Even if you’re an avid fan of twin-stick shooters, chances are you’ve not played anything quite like NeverAwake before.
Developed by Neotro Inc., NeverAwake has you fighting monsters inside a girl’s dreams. Or should that be nightmares? You see, there’s nothing cute and fluffy about about NeverAwake. Nothing wholesome and good. Instead, trapped inside perpetual sleep, you’ll be battling against horrific renditions of the things Rem hates such as vegetables, dogs and and even dentists.
Being a twin-stick shooter, the controls here are simple: the left analogue stick moves Rem around the screen, and the right analogue stick aims and fires in any direction around her. Aside from that, you have a nifty dash manoeuvre that allows you to move through hazards without taking damage, and a special attack button for when you need a little bit more firepower. Pretty typical, huh?
What’s unique about NeverAwake, however, is the way the stages are played and completed. It’s not just a case of reaching the end of a stage by surviving its onslaught of enemies, or indeed defeating them all. Instead, it’s all about collecting enough souls to break the dream cycle. And so if you survive long enough, you can expect to reach the end of a stage and have it loop around again until you have collected the required number of souls.
In some stages you’ll earn souls by killing enemies. In others by shooting a giant crystal that you can also use as a shield. When it comes to boss battles, shooting bits off them often releases souls. You’ll also find that each loop is essentially a phase, with the boss’ attacks getting more fearsome as you progress. And so it pays to grab as many souls as you can before they float offscreen. In fact, some stages can be completed in one loop if you’re skilled enough.
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Souls act as a a currency in NeverAwake, too. With them, you’re able to buy accessories and special attacks, which can then be equipped to improve your odds of survival or simply tweak your playstyle. Only a few are available at the beginning of the game, but many more become available as you progress.
The basic special attack, for instance, is essentially like a bomb, dispersing a hail of bullets outwards. But you soon unlock an alternative that allows you to constantly fire bullets at high speed in the direction of your choosing for a prolonged period of time. Needless to say, your choice of special weapon can change the gameplay up considerably, but with its use limited, you’ll have to employ it strategically.
Another thing we like about NeverAwake is that it’s quite welcoming to newcomers. It eases you in gently, giving you a chance to learn the basics before slowly ramping up the difficulty. If you fail a stage, you’re not taken right back to the beginning of the game, either. You can simply retry as many times as you like. Or leave the game and retry the stage at a later date.
With over 80 stages to complete spread across numerous themed worlds, NeverAwake is quite a sizeable game, too. And thanks to leaderboards, you might find yourself replaying stages to try and better your scores. There’s even a fairly interesting story to follow, complete with numerous endings to discover.
Everything adds up to make NeverAwake one of the most inventive and interesting twin-stick shooters we’ve played in some time. From its meticulously-created enemies to its responsive controls, everything here has been tuned for your enjoyment. And so once you’ve started playing, chances are you’ll have a hard time pulling yourself away from it. If you’re a fan of twin-stick shooters, make sure you check this out.