Anyone remember Cube? The rather exciting and unusual film from 1997 about a group of people stuck in a labyrinth of cube-shaped prisons which moved around as they tried to escape, each one filled with rather elaborate traps and even a hint of time travel and parallel dimensions thrown in? Well, if you’ve not watched it, make sure you do, as well as it’s two sequels, but before then, why am I bringing it up? Neverout, from Polish developers Gamedust, follows a similar concept, only with much less blood and gore!
Playable in both VR and non-VR on the PS4, your mission is to solve the gravity-defying puzzles as you walk up walls, move around blocks, jump off platforms and avoid death traps. Can you escape or are you destined to Never(get)out?
The story is simple in Neverout – there is none! You have one goal, get out. As you fall into an exit, you’ll drop into a new claustrophobic cubic puzzle room which has only one exit present. Usually, this is obstructed by one of a number of different hazards which I’ll come to later on. To aid you in your puzzle-solving duties, gravity lends a hand. As you approach a wall, you’ll instantly begin to walk on it, however, it appears the whole room shifts and not just your perspective. Blocks will fall in the direction gravity is now pulling and instantly creates a new hazard to avoid – death from above!
There are four zones to work your way through, with over 60 puzzle rooms. Some of these will take less than a minute to overcome and some of them up to five, or more, depending on how quickly you grasp the concept placed in front of you. I personally got stuck on a number of the puzzles and had to come out and try another one for now as I was getting quite confused. As such, I can honestly see this game lasting you a decent amount of time, certainly over 2 hours without any sort of guide to help you out, which is pretty good for the price and the fact you can play it all in VR if you wish too.
First things first, the controls. These operate differently depending on your mode, so let’s look at that:
Non-VR (Flat mode):
The controls in Neverout operate like a dungeon crawler, the left stick moves you forwards, backwards, and strafe left/right. The right stick allows you to look around freely (inverted or not) and if you turn to your left then push forward on the left stick, you’ll move in that direction. You move in set increments on an invisible grid as the whole game is grid-based. When you approach a wall, pushing forwards will cause the screen to go black momentarily as the whole room rotates and gravity takes place on any cubes within the room.
PSVR mode (normal):
This is very similar but with more options. First up, you can only move forwards – no strafing. The left stick or L2/R2 will move you forward one step. If you physically turn to your left or right and push forward, you’ll step in that direction, this is a replacement of the strafe command. The right stick this time just turns you around at 90-degree increments – as you’re free to move your own head to look around naturally. Just like before, if you push forwards at a wall, your character will ‘blink’ so the screen goes momentarily black and then come back as gravity moves the blocks around.
PSVR mode (comfort settings):
These can both be enabled individually or disabled as you please. First of all, we have the option to teleport. This disables the left stick and highlights the floor panel you’re looking at. It can only be in the directly forward or left/right orientation, but it can be as many squares forward as you wish. Pushing L2 or R2 will transport you to that spot and the right stick rotates as normal. The second feature is the rotations of the room. Instead of blinking and things falling, you can have the game create a ‘Portal’ like portal on the wall which you step into which smoothly moves you into the already rotated room. This option will help if the rotating of the walls makes you dizzy or nauseated.
I think the controls work really well in Neverout and are easy to get to grips with. I played it all in VR and really enjoyed it.
Okay, so I mentioned above that you’ll encounter certain hazards along your way. The first set of 20 rooms (which I have a video of below) takes you through all the various types you’ll encounter. There are standard puzzle rooms where you just have to figure out where to place blocks in order to proceed by using gravity. These rooms’ hazard is the fact that if you’re below a block as gravity pulls it down, you’re gonna get squished! Some of these rooms have red magnets though, using these will allow you to lock the block in place to help you progress. Although, some rooms have magnets which make it impossible to solve if the block gets stuck to one – so be careful…
Other rooms have hazards such as electrified fences which fry you to a crisp upon impact, big pits full of spikes that are bound to hurt, and there are even padded cells with teleporting orbs which moves you from one to the other. I’ve even seen some rooms with a combination of a few of the above hazards which you must figure out how to correctly line things up so that you don’t fall to your death or end up with a nasty shock! Gravity only impacts the blocks and nothing else, but lining up the block into the perfect position can sometimes be tricky as one wrong turn of the perspective could either crush you or render the puzzle useless if it happens to fall onto a magnet it shouldn’t have.
Neverout fully supports the PS4 Pro with Pro support to offer a better overall experience. As such, when you’re in the game within VR, the game looks super clear and immersive. I’m quite claustrophobic and being in these small (6×6 squares) rooms was starting to get to me after around an hour of gameplay. In flat mode, I was fine, but VR offers a new level of immersion to all of the games which run in it. The textures are of decent quality and the game runs silky smooth – although, you would expect it too seeing as it’s literally a very small area being rendered at a time. There isn’t any music, but there are ambient noises coming from the various traps and lights which makes the game a bit more intense at times.
I had a lot of fun with Neverout, as you can see from my video below. I went into the game thinking it would just be a small puzzle game in VR with simple puzzles and a short lifespan. What I came back with was an experience I really enjoyed, some really cleverly put together puzzles, I realised you can play it both in and out of VR, and every death made me more determined to try and complete the room I was in. I’m going to my parents this weekend and they always love trying out the new VR games I’ve received for review, so I’ll be sure to get them to have a go of this as they’re a fan of puzzle games so it’ll be good to see if they think this is too tricky or just right.
I had a few issues with a couple of puzzles, mainly the gravity-based ones with the blocks, as I couldn’t figure out where the game wanted me to place the blocks so I could proceed. However, in each occasion, I soldiered on and managed to come up with the solution, either by thinking about it or getting lucky with a random rotation! I would actually strongly recommend this to all puzzle fans – both with and without PSVR, even though it’s much better in VR if I’m being honest. It’s very cheap and without using a guide (as all puzzle games should be played), it’ll offer a decent amount of challenge. Although, for those wondering – there is no platinum trophy.
First 20 levels:
Neverout is a well thought out and tricky puzzle game which is playable in both VR and Flat mode. With a similar concept to Cube, the film from 1997, each new ‘room’ you fall into offers a new challenge which you must overcome in order to progress further and get out of this prison! It offers a decent challenge and some of the puzzles are rather cryptic which may take you a while to work out the solutions for. Puzzle fans will love the challenge and casuals will enjoy the experience, especially if you don your VR headset and play it fully immersed within the 6×6 grid-based environments. Either way, Neverout is certainly one to pick up if you like your puzzles!
- Playable on both the PS4 (flat) and PSVR
- Very immersive once in VR with a few comfort options
- Various hazards with every room being a different solution
- Well thought-out puzzles
- Cheap price
- Would have liked more variety in the hazards
- Some people may not like the grid movements (I didn't mind it)
- There are quite a few really easy <1 min levels