Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield caught my attention at last month’s Nintendo Indie World Showcase, with the exciting auto-runner gameplay and stylish vibe ticking plenty of boxes for me. What was more impressive was the fact that it was coming from a solo developer, with Neil ‘Aerial_Knight’ Jones proudly including his name as part of the title. It certainly makes it more eye-catching, that’s for sure.
Is the game actually any fun to play though? The answer to that is a big yes, even if it does lack the replayability to keep players coming back for more once they’ve beaten it.
The story of Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is pretty straightforward, with the player taking on the role of a young man named Wally after he recovers some items that were stolen from him. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that, right? Well, it actually sees him going on the run from all sorts of futuristic baddies, so maybe there’s more at stake than it might initially seem…
The narrative has never really played a big role in games like this, but it was nice to have some context to the adventure. It adds a fun twist to the formula and the short cutscenes in-between levels kept me interested, even if it did never get too deep.
“The cel-shaded visuals add some slick and stylish flair that fits the vibe of the adventure perfectly.”
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield utilises the auto-runner gameplay loop, meaning players don’t have to worry about actually traversing through levels as the running protagonist but instead have to make sure they perform quick actions in order to evade any obstacles in his path. These actions are assigned to the face buttons of the controller, with Wally able to slide under obstacles, do a high leap over them, do a shorter backflip, or simply sprint ahead with speed – all with a quick button press. It’s simple stuff really, but with the quick pace of the game and the unpredictability of what might be ahead of you, you’ve got to be sharp with your button presses. Fortunately, checkpoints are plentiful, so it never gets too daunting.
One thing that is obvious from the get-go in Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is just how damn pretty it looks. The cel-shaded visuals add some slick and stylish flair that fits the vibe of the adventure perfectly. The bursts of colour within levels add to the vibrancy of Wally’s journey too, whilst the futuristic Detroit setting is packed with neat sights and action-packed moments that really help bring each area to life. It’s just full to the brim with excitement.
Add to that a brilliant soundtrack from Detroit musician Danime-Sama and it’s clear that Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is the full package as far as presentation is concerned… I was REALLY impressed.
“There’s something satisfying about the hypnotising gameplay loop of evading obstacles and Wally’s actions slowly become imprinted into your muscle memory.”
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield’s gameplay is fairly simple in design, but there are additional difficulty settings that vary things up. The easier difficulty gives players a bit more of a nod when they need to pull off each manoeuvre, whereas the higher setting ups the ante to keep your skills tested. There’s no room for error, with crashes and smashes aplenty. In honesty, the higher difficulty actually offers the best way to experience the game, with the genuine need for quick reactions adding an extra dose of tension to each run. It definitely makes a second playthrough worthwhile, if only to see how good you really are at the game…
There’s not really a whole lot of variety to be found in Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield’s core experience, but it still manages to be enjoyable throughout. There’s something satisfying about the hypnotising gameplay loop of evading obstacles and Wally’s actions slowly become imprinted into your muscle memory. Levels bring with them different ideas too, so it’s not as if you’re ALWAYS doing the same thing. It’s surprising how creative the game can actually be despite the simplistic nature of its setup.
“I managed to beat it in around eighty-minutes on my first attempt, which is fairly short but ensures that it didn’t outstay its welcome.”
It does help that the game isn’t too long mind, so you won’t grow tired of doing a lot of the same things over and over again. I managed to beat it in around eighty-minutes on my first attempt, which is fairly short but ensures that it didn’t outstay its welcome. It felt like the perfect length for this sort of game.
That being said, those who do want a bit more bang for their buck might expect a little bit more, especially since the main replayability comes from playing on the higher difficulty. Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield doesn’t feature online leaderboards to compete against others, whilst there isn’t really a scoring system in place for single player either outside of the time it takes you to complete levels. It could have delivered a little bit more here, if only to keep players coming back for more. That being said, it’s available for under a tenner, so it’s not like you’re paying over the odds for what you’re getting.
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield’s auto-running gameplay makes for an exciting time, whilst the slick audio and visuals are top notch throughout. It is a little lacking on replayability after you beat the relatively short campaign, but at the same time the length ensures the gameplay doesn’t get too repetitive.
Still, it’d be nice to see online leaderboards or some form of scoring system added in the future, if only to keep players coming back for more. As it stands though, Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is certainly one of the more impressive auto-runners I’ve played, with the futuristic adventure offering plenty of running, jumping, and sliding thrills… just don’t expect to spend too long with it.
Publisher: Headup Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Click here to visit the official website.