PC/Mac Reviews

Nevermind Review: The Bollocks

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The concept of dealing with psychological trauma by probing into the subconsciousness of an individual has been attempted to be shown in media for a long time, to varying degrees of success. Films like Inception and The Cell have all attempted to deal with the subconsciousness in their own ways. This concept if the main point behind Nevermind. When we first looked at it in Early Access, there were some solid concepts behind a fairly large pay wall. Now that the game has fully released, it seems that those concepts have not really been expanded upon and the pay wall is still the same.

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You play as a neuroprober, a person who accesses the subconscious mind of psychologically traumatized individuals. That idea is actually not terrible. It harkens back to a number of science fiction tropes explored throughout the years. As you begin, though, you are shown the number of “clients” you will be treating. Aside from the tutorial, there are all of two different clients.

Again, though, that isn’t terrible if each of the clients are designed well and there is meaningful content within each of their areas. The first client is an individual who is struggling with some severe neurosis following the death of her parents. As you delve into her mind, you begin to find repressed, and actually fairly dark memories buried under the surface. Had more of the game focused on things like these and actually expanded upon the concepts in this level, there would be far less to complain about.

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The first client’s mind is a twisted mess of a world when you first begin. Environments are wrapped around in strange and unique ways. There are small messages hidden in the environment and, for at least the first half, it gives off a creepy tone. However, eventually you end up playing a real life version of Frogger, go through a maze where the only real challenge is not laughing at the jumpscare animations that try to be creepy but fail miserably and have to pass by a wall of beings who move like they are on a foosball table.

This was all in the initial Early Access release. The new client is a homeless person who has a number of psychological issues, much of which is whispered to you in an opening text crawl. In fact the volume is so quiet that it feels like the designers didn’t care about this part of the games narrative.

You will likely realize the twist of this individual fairly quickly. There are a number of hints that basically spell out exactly what happened to them, leaving little mystery. At least with the first client, you had to guess what happened and the reveal was fairly shocking. Here, it’s almost a clichéd story being told to you.

This section is also filled with absolutely terrible puzzles. Many of this area’s puzzles require you to travel from one end of a map to another to put a thing in another thing. When recycling is an actual mechanic in your game, you might want to think of a new mechanic. Moreover, if you press the right trigger once you are holding one of the items, you don’t just drop the item; it travels all the way back to where you found it.

The puzzles are split into two different categories. There are your traditional puzzles and the overall puzzle of each level. As you travel throughout the environment, you pick up pictures. At the end of the level, you’ll need to put them in chronological order. However, some of these pictures are false memories, so you need to sort through them to figure out which is real and which aren’t. Almost all of these picture puzzles are incredibly simple to figure out and they are supposed to reveal the story of the world.

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However, the story already had been revealed in a more effective manner in the environments. You see the trauma, you see the damage, you see through their eyes. However, then each patient has this “Ah-Ha” moment where everything makes sense to them. These are individuals who have undergone severe trauma and, just like that, all of their issues seem to vanish. The concept of discovering these problems is interesting but it is almost all undermined when you realize that these deep psychological problems really can’t be dealt with in this manner.

After you do this, the game just kind of ends. There’s no larger pay off, no real ending, You just walk out and that’s it. There is more time spent building set pieces for Kickstarter backers than there is in creating any kind of narrative for the player. In that sense, this feels more like a tech demo than a video game.

It’s clear that this game was designed for the use of a biometric feedback device. This is, in fact, one of the main selling points; the game reacts to your heartbeat and stress levels. However, there’s nothing really stressful or scary for most players. Aside from a couple of brief glimpses of horror in the first patient, there’s nothing really worthwhile as a horror game here.

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Moreover, the game’s price point is way too high to justify the minimal content. As a $20 horror game, there is little excuse for the content of this game to be this bad. The bright flashes are so minimal that even at $10, there wouldn’t be much justification for it. It feels like a tech demo for something larger and better. However, Nevermind never delivers on any tension or scares and feels like a chore. There was a brief glimmer of hope but with the barebones content, it is hardly justifiable, even at a lower price.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 10

A code for Nevermind was provided to Pixel Related for review. 

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