Review: Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield

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By Josh Nichols on May 19th, 2021

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I first learned about Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield from Nintendo’s Indie Showcase. I try to keep up with as many indie games as possible but still miss stuff sometimes. There are just so many creative indie titles released on a regular basis that it’s hard to be aware of everything, even if it’s my jam. It’s one reason I’m always so happy about Nintendo and Microsoft’s indie programs. Both companies help provide visibility to super rad games created by creative groups of people or even just a single person, which was the case for Never Yield’s game development.

Before I tell you about this special game I would like to highlight something Neil Jones, also known as Aerial_Knight, said during Nintendo’s April 2021 Indie World Stream. It’s important. It’s from Neil and about his game and the video game industry, which can sometimes be cruel and indifferent.

Demand a better industry with your voice and wallet

In the stream while announcing the upcoming Nintendo Switch release of Never Yield, he said, “I created this game in Detroit, to make space for myself in the game industry, which previously refused to make space for me. And with the help of some of my amazing friends, we created something that represents much more.”

I’d like to see the industry be better in all areas; developers and publishers have recently started getting better at pushing for diversity and inclusion but we still have a long way to go. I’d like to encourage everyone to demand a more inclusive industry and one big way you can do that is by supporting unique and creative titles like Never Yield.

If this game doesn’t sound like it’s your jam when you’re finished reading this review then that’s totally fine but you can share this game with people you know offline and online. The industry is better when we lift up cool and good people and push for a more inclusive space for developers, games, and content creators. Even if you don’t like every game: if it’s unique, rad, and created by good people then lift them up and share their game with everyone you know. You’ll not only introduce someone to their next favorite game but you’ll also be doing your part to push for a better world.

Never Yield was absolutely my jam which is why, despite receiving a review code, I’ll still be buying a copy. I want to play this game on more devices and I want to support Aerial_Knight and games as refreshing as Never Yield.

Running with style

Never Yield is a 3D sidescroller runner game, which means you’re controlling protagonist Wally by moving up, down, and around obstacles while moving quickly across the screen. It’s a sidescroller so you’re moving left to right or right to left while keeping your eyes a few steps in front of you to make sure you react accordingly. It’s fast paced while also fun and fair. There are a few different difficulty options to choose from too so you can adjust until it feels right, which will be especially helpful as you improve and try to up your game.

The default difficulty has a slow-motion effect as you get closer to enemies and obstacles so you have more than just a split second to hit the right button but you also have the option of removing that if you increase the difficulty. I’m not super good at runners, or at least not initially, so I completed my first few playthroughs on the more forgiving difficulty. I’ll be increasing that though for more challenge as I start to master and memorize sections, which is kind of what the whole gameplay loop is about in this game and the genre as a whole. You’re always moving in the game and the same applies to those completion times as they continually improve.

It’s all about running as fast as you can without failing and having to start over. Not only is it fun and addictive shaving seconds or maybe even a few minutes off of level and game completion times but it’s also just stylish and tight. I didn’t fail a single time from the game itself. Every single time I failed, I immediately knew what I could have done differently. And this didn’t frustrate me at all; it motivated me. I knew I could do better and decided to try to do better when the game reloaded my position.

The clock doesn’t reset after you fail and respawn. But you as a person do! You know exactly what you did so you can make the correction on the next run. You can start over immediately if you really want to but I find that hard to do since it not only disrupts my rhythm but also the ridiculously rad soundtrack.

When I first start this game I let it sit on the Main Menu for several minutes. It’s not because I’m intimidated or afraid to start. It’s because this soundtrack is seriously amazing start to finish — and it all starts the second Never Yield begins.

The music is from “Danime-Sama”, a Detroit artist with vocals from black artists all over the world, according to press information on Never Yield. It’s legitimately one of my favorite video game soundtracks. My neighbors have been listening to it too because I always play this game loud. It’s impossible not to do so because it’s just that good. The music is a fusion of hip-hop and jazz and works in harmony with the graphics to create atmosphere for the mysterious and ominous setting.

Look and listen

There’s a story within Never Yield happening all around Wally as he runs from start to finish, dodging enemies, explosions, and debris to stay alive. It’s there if you look. I’m still piecing it together myself, which actually works out alright since not only does it make me feel like a part of it while I’m deciphering and exploring the meaning of everything around Wally, but I’m also going to be playing Never Yield for a long time. I don’t think I’ll ever really stop playing it. I might take breaks to spend my limited time playing other stuff occasionally but I’m going to be replaying this off and on for years to come. I can’t imagine a world without games as special as Never Yield and you shouldn’t either. Play this game if you’re into runner games and consider playing it if you’re usually not a fan of the genre. It’s among the best in the genre. Maybe you like runners but just haven’t played a good one or one of the best. There’s a demo on Nintendo Switch at the time of writing and if that isn’t an option for you then the trailer below may help you decide if it’s something for you.

Even if runners aren’t your usual jam, Never Yield might change that. The soundtrack, compelling story, stylish graphics, and customizable difficulty can help make your experience as special as mine. You don’t have to be good at it to enjoy yourself and you’ll get better as you play it. I’m currently replaying it non-stop to experience the game again and again while also improving my times. You’ll no doubt be in the same spot if you give it a chance.

Neil Jones aka “Aerial_Knight”

I can’t recommend this game enough and am going to be checking out previous games Aerial_Knight has worked on, as well as games he creates in the future. This is a special game deserving of your attention and money. It’s available on Epic Games Store, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Steam, and Xbox.

9
Great
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is a great example of how special indie titles can truly be. It’s my jam and it’ll probably your jam too. Tune in and check it out as soon as possible.

Josh really likes video games. Horror is their favorite but they also like other stuff.

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