Even before starting the game, I decided to do some research as to why it is called Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield. I found that Aerial_Knight is the username for Neil Jones, a 3D artist and game developer who has created games like cliQue, Armored and Murder the Reaper in the past. For Never Yield, Neil did almost everything on his own including all of the art, the VFX, game design, marketing and even creating the trailer. This was truly a passion project.
As soon as the game starts, you are treated to an upbeat high-energy soundtrack and a cutscene of your main character being experimented on. He manages to break free and is on the run out of the building into the surrounding area. You play as Wally, and he never stops running. It is up to you to avoid all the obstacles in his way in a futuristic Tokyo-style Detroit by jumping, flipping or sliding your way out of danger. Wally is out to save what is left of this future by saving items from the past.
On my first playthrough, I never realised that the cutscene was over and the game had started. So within the first minute I failed twice before catching on. On the game screen, depending on whether you are playing with a keyboard or controller, a D-pad image or keyboard keys will show up informing you of what you need to press to get past the hazard in your way.
When you first start playing, you have to play in normal mode until you unlock harder difficulties. Normal mode has slow motion which slows down the action for you to react to fences, pipes and enemies to avoid. The extra second is really helpful when you are first starting. Never Yield has the obstacles colour-coded in this mode to give you a heads up on what move you need to perform. Jumping is red, flipping is yellow and when you have to slide it will be blue.
If you are not successful getting past that hazard, you will be asked if you want to give up and yield or if you try again. Never Yield keeps track of the number of attempts and your time to complete this run. Once you complete the first level, two other difficulties will be unlocked. Hard mode and insane mode will be there for you to try to challenge levels you have already completed, but this time with less slow motion and obstacle warnings. Any of these levels that you have previously gone through are available to challenge again without having to play through the rest of the game. If you are trying to get the best speedrun possible, this is incredibly handy. It gets frustrating if you want to improve on only one part but have to keep starting over.
The soundtrack in Never Yield is great. It was done by Detroit artist “Danime-Sama" and features a huge variety of tracks, ranging from instrumental upbeat music to jazz with a lot of horns and songs with vocal tracks from black artists all over the world. I found the music so enjoyable I didn’t mind hearing the same parts over and over if I failed an area. The visuals have an artistic cell-shaded look to them which works well with the speed of the game. You are moving so fast it’s almost impossible to pay attention to small details, so the less distractions the better.
Never Yield also has a large collection of outfits for your character to unlock as you play. At any point when you are in the main menu, you can look through all the lockers to find the new outfit you will be donning for your run. My favourite is “The Boseman”, this outfit is a tribute to the late actor Chadwick Boseman. The pants say “Kings Never Die” for his portrayal in Black Panther, the shoes “RIP”, and the jacket has the number 23 on it from his portrayal of Jackie Robinson in 23. It was really neat to see all the references to films I’ve seen in this tribute.
In the 13 levels of Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield, you can see how much care and love was put into it. Every move you had to make felt like it was planned and the variety of different levels and cool boss battles worked very well together. It made sense to start inside a building then have an outside level, where you jump a chain-link fence to go through a construction site. All the levels flowed together great. The action never stopped or slowed down, you are always on the run. The full game will probably take you less time to play through than watching a high-adrenaline action movie, but the whole point of the game is to go back and keep replaying the levels to get the best times you possibly can. Once you find the challenge too easy, just ramp up the difficulty and try it again. It would have been great to have an online leaderboard to compare your top times with your friends.
Aerial_Knight's Never Yield (Reviewed on Windows)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
If you love speed-running type games, Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is a must-play. Who would have guessed that running through forests, on top of buildings, through offices where you are jumping over photocopiers and sliding under desks would be so addictive and so much fun!