Better out than in!

Title: Neverout
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
Developer: Gamedust
Publisher: Gamedust
Price: PC £5/$7, PS4 £6.50/$8
Release date: Out Now
TL;DR: Cube based puzzle game similar to horror movie “The Cube”.
Family Focus?: Click here for more information

Way back in 1997, a little horror-flick called “Cube” was released, where the plot centred around a group of six complete strangers, with widely varying personalities and backgrounds, involuntarily placed in what seemed like an endless maze of cube-shaped rooms, each containing a deadly trap of some sort. It was a bit of a surprise hit and quickly garnered a cult following for its unique story and gory death traps.

Flick forward to 2018 and we have Neverout, which I can only describe as the closest thing you can get to having a game based on the ‘Cube-Maze’ idea of the movie franchise. The game starts with you awakening in a room, it’s dark, claustrophobic, with flickering lights and the muffled voice of another distressed person coming from nearby. As you take a look around to try and gauge your environment you notice that one panel is slightly different from the others and has ’02’ marked upon it.

This seems to be the only exit out of the room, but its placed high upon one of the walls out of reach. As you walk over to take a closer look you realise you can scale the wall, almost as if wearing some kind of magnetic footwear, and when you start to clamber up, your viewpoint changes and gives the feeling that the whole room has rotated. But, you can now stroll over to the panel marked as ’02’ and as you do so, the panel opens like a pair of ‘swishing’ Star Trek doors to reveal an opening that drops you into the next puzzle room.

The first 20 levels act as a tutorial, with simple puzzles from each variety of room which introduce you to all the different types of traps. Each room has one of four themes; Magnetic, Electric, Box, or Teleport, with some of the rooms also incorporating traps such as spike pits, electric fencing, or falling boxes. As the rooms rotate you realise that gravity aligns itself with whichever wall you are stood on, and this can be either the way to navigate past the traps or solve the route to the next level.

I like the way the different types of rooms have distinctive challenges to solve the puzzles. This offers up some unique ways of keeping the puzzles fresh whilst also challenging your logical and spatial reasoning. Where the electrical puzzles have you trying to avoid getting shocked, the magnetic puzzles have you thinking more about how you are going to rotate the room to get the boxes to glide over a magnet. For me, the teleport levels gave me the most trouble as you have to have the room turned the right way to use the artificial gravity to get the teleporter to drop you in the right place, but it’s highly satisfying when you figure it out.

Although not as deadly as the traps in the film, there is still the chance to die. Death can come in the form of electrocution, falling into a spike trap, or losing awareness of your surroundings and having a box squash you as you rotate the room. The good news though, is that it’s not really all that punishing; all death does is restart the level and the puzzles aren’t overly long to solve so it only takes a few seconds to get back to the point you were at before your untimely demise.

Graphically the game isn’t much to write home about, the textures are simple and we’re only really dealing with cubes here. However, it does do the job and it honestly goes unnoticed due to the gameplay taking precedence. The sound is also simple, with no music, but the footsteps and slight clanking of moving objects do give the impression that you are isolated in a lonely sterile room.

Neverout, let’s not forget is also a VR game, that can immerse you further if you have either a Hive or Occulus for PC or a PlayStation VR headset for the PS4. I’m not sure if there would be any advantage from using a VR headset as I conquered the game in the standard format and unfortunately was unable to test the game out in VR. There were some issues with motion sickness for some of our other reviewers who tried the game, so if you do have a slight weakness for lots of rotating camera movement this might not be the game for you.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Neverout as it had the same addictiveness as the Portal games. The puzzles get progressively more difficult as you progress through the levels, but unfortunately, don’t really offer that much of a challenge. The game is also very short and can be easily completed in under 2 hours, but for the price of the title, that’s more than fair for the entertainment it gives.

The Good

  • Great idea for a puzzle game based on an iconic movie.
  • Isolated atmosphere at the beginning.
  • Can be played in VR or normal mode.

The Bad

  • The game loses its atmosphere and sense of any story as time goes on.
  • No rewards or sense of completion.
  • Puzzles aren’t that difficult and soon become repetitive.

Family Focus

ESRB: E Everyone 10+. PEGI: 7 or above.

Set in a claustrophobic atmosphere, there is some mild violence from deaths to traps, but other than that it’s just a puzzle game.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.