Video games have long claimed to be helpful when it comes to developing a player’s hand-eye coordination, visual-spatial skills and even memory. Some games, however, are much better at reaching for those cognitive development goals than others. The indie release game Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield kinda hits it out of the park in those areas. But when it comes to something like a fun, immersible story … it stumbles.
Right out of the gate, Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield, uh,hits the ground running with a cyber-enhanced guy named Wally scampering ever forward, running for his life from a group of pursuers.
If you read the game notes, you learn that young Wally is in a futuristic Detroit carrying important information away from the bad guys. We don’t really know anything other than that except that the baddies will throw missiles, men, cars, drones, fiery refuse and anything else they can think of in Wally’s path.
Wally runs ever forward, leaving the player with only four possible inputs: small jump, big jump, low slide, and sprint. With those inputs Wally must hurtle and tumble past everything thrown his way.
Players choose from three difficulty levels, which determine how many obstacles will come streaming in Wally’s direction and if he’ll get a brief slo-mo moment or advance warning icon to help determine which action choice will help him clear that obstacle. That may sound easy, but it can be a challenge, and as players make their way through the 13 levels, it gets steadily more difficult.
Bashing into an obstacle, or being hit by a vehicle or pursuer, brings up a screen with an option to yield or keep running on. But, hey, this game is all about never yielding, right? So, then Wally is set back on his path with a bit of a running start.
Well, I mentioned the visual cognitive skill development, and that comes through with aces in this game. It has a great, color-saturated animated presentation and a wonderful, jazzy, soundtrack (with some interspersed light hip-hop) to help players slip into their hand-eye coordinated groove.
And there’s really nothing else to do but challenge yourself to run error free for as long as possible and chase higher scores on the different levels.
There’s a bit of violence and an occasional splash of red when Wally hits an obstacle, sets off an explosive or smashes through a window in the wrong way. And there are some dangerous looking areas that Wally speeds through containing the likes of fires, exploding oil tanks, rocketing missiles and whirling saw blades. (And in the final chapter a character is, oddly, hit with a sword.) But there’s never any gore and Wally always returns unharmed if you choose to continue.
In the long run, Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is what it is. On the plus side it’s a colorful skill challenge with a very enjoyable musical underscore. And it’s the sort of game that young gamers and casual players can pick up and enjoy, too. If you want anything more than that—such as a compelling story or some kind of gaming variety—well, you may feel a bit like you’re jogging in circles.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.