Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield doesn’t mess around. Right out of the gate your avatar Wally blasts out of containment, jumps through a window and is immediately being chased by mercenaries and drones. At its core the game is an endless runner, but one in which its presentation, its soundtrack and unabated action meld together into a wholly unique experience that is much more than the sum of its parts. It is so undeniably stylish that any attempt to explain it on my part would completely undersell the experience.
Wally’s move set is simple but succinct; pushing up on the analog stick makes him jump; pressing down has him do a slide. He also has what I like to call a parkour leap, which you activate by pressing back and which you need for negotiating mid-ranged obstacles, and there’s a forward dash that will have you smashing through certain things as well as moving you faster in general for those all-important high scores. While that all sounds a bit par for the course, the genius of Never Yield comes from the subtle visual cues – the game gives you just enough of a warning that you can start to pick up a sweet cadence. Each of the aforementioned moves correlate with a different color that catches your eye and often gives you more of a heads up of what to do than seeing the actual obstacle. This allows the game to throw a variety of things your way that might look entirely different from each other, but you’ll know what to do for each one because of that telltale color burst. In short, this makes you look and feel like a badass as you careen under flipping cars, shoot through broken barriers and leap oncoming missiles.
The game can be ‘finished’ from top to bottom in roughly and hour and a half, but the point of Never Yield is to refine your skills and keep challenging yourself. The game offers a trio of difficulty levels that are all unique and ultimately fair to the player. At the lowest rung you’re given an admittedly cool slow-mo affect that triggers before doing a move to get you acclimated to the game, whereas the highest setting eschews the safety net and gives you extra obstacles that are a nice treat for folk who have played to the point of memorizing levels. I ran through Never Yield on all three difficulty settings, a rare occurrence for me, but it attests to how brilliant the game is.
The ambiance around Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield in combination with the stellar mechanical design make it a game worth playing. Its neon rendition of Detroit mixed with its exotic aesthetic and killer soundtrack give it a style all its own. It’s one of those rare instances where a game legitimately has an auteur’s touch and is all the better for it. I don’t know what’s next for Aerial_Knight (a.k.a. Neil Jones), but I can’t wait to see what he does.
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is an amazing experience as it stands, but the cultural richness that surrounds it makes it one of the most memorable games I’ve ever played. It’s a gateway drug to a world of myriad games created by interesting voices all around the world, not just the US coasts and Japan. Here’s hoping that Detroit becomes the next hotbed for rad new developers, with Jones leading the way.
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield was developed by Aerial_Knight (Neil Jones), and it’s available on Switch, Xbox, PlayStation and PC. We reviewed the Switch version.
Disclosure statement: review code for Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield was provided by Headup. A Most Agreeable Pastime operates as an independent site, and all opinions expressed are those of the author.