Let’s Play NeverAwake!

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This week, we’re taking a look at the demo for NeverAwake, an upcoming shoot ’em up that is part of Marvelous Japan’s new Indie Game Incubator programme.

NeverAwake is a horror-themed shoot ’em up that combines elements of twin-stick shooters with traditional forced-scrollers. You have the choreographed stages of scrolling shooters, but you can fire in any direction thanks to twin-stick mechanics — and special attacks add a further layer of depth to the gameplay.

The concept of NeverAwake is that you’re exploring the subconscious of a girl who has been in a coma for some time, and that you’re fighting off her nightmares. Because she’s a little girl, a lot of her nightmares are relatively mundane in nature — the levels we see in the demo represent her distaste for vegetables, for example, and later parts of the game are set to explore school-related matters, her fear of the dentist and all manner of other things.

We don’t see a huge amount of plot in the three-level demo for NeverAwake, but it gives us a good idea of how the gameplay is going to go. It involves shooting enemies and collecting the soul fragments they leave behind; mastery of the game comes from not only achieving high scores, but setting quick times for completing each stage. As you defeat the bosses throughout the various areas in the game, you’ll loosen the “shackles” on the girl’s unconscious self, presumably with the ultimate aim of allowing her to awaken from her coma.

The full game of NeverAwake is set to include more than 80 levels with plenty of challenges to take on, plus an unfolding narrative as you work your way through the stages. While we get only a small hint of what to expect from this short demo, what is here looks immensely promising. The visuals are striking and beautifully animated, the mechanics are solid and the structure of the game looks to be intriguing and unusual. Plus there’s doubtless going to be plenty of emotionally engaging story to ponder as you make your way through — and the promise of different endings according to your actions.

NeverAwake

NeverAwake’s development is being supported by Marvelous Japan’s Indie Game Incubator programme, which connects creators with a team of experienced mentors from across the international games industry. The programme isn’t a publishing deal, but it is intended to help small, independent creators bring their work to market — ideally internationally. It seem that developer Neotro Inc. is already committed to an international release for NeverAwake, since the demo is fully in English, so with any luck the Indie Game Incubator programme will enable them to make it the best it possibly can be.

NeverAwake’s demo is available right now on Steam, so you can try it for yourself. When the full version releases, it will also be available for Nintendo Switch along with PlayStation and Xbox platforms. The release date is currently pencilled in as “early 2022”.

If you want to see more of NeverAwake, give the demo a go for yourself — and on November 26, 2021, the Indie Game Incubator programme will be hosting a livestream showing more footage and information about all the games participating in this first round of the initiative. If you miss the show live, there’ll be a video on demand archive to enjoy after the fact, too. Find out more at the Indie Game Incubator website!

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Pete Davison
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