I am probably biased toward the game because the main character is female, and it seems there aren't many games with strong female leads in the fantasy RPG genre. Agavaen is a young, strong minded and tough bodied mercenary type who starts out the day on the wrong side of a stolen chest of treasure. She's thrown out of her camp and sets off to find who really did steal the treasure, along the way finding that the world around her isn't a nice place at all. As this story progresses, Agavaen learns more about herself, discovering that she has magical powers beyond her imagination.
I'm going to pause here in telling the story to talk about one portion of gameplay, that being spells. I have no CLUE how to use spells in this game. At least, not yet. The game doesn't really have a tutorial, just a book manual, and from having read the manual I still can't tell how I'm supposed to use spells. You see, there are these scrolls. And they say that they have a certain number of uses. And I can put them in my spellbook. And there are runes that somehow get combined to do something. But, well, that's about as much as I've been able to figure out. I have yet to successfully cast or use a spell, which seems like it would be rather important to be able to do given that Agavaen is a magician. It was because I was trying to figure out how magic worked that I went looking for a walkthrough. Didn't find anything, unfortunately. However, I can say with confidence that this hasn't stopped me from both playing and enjoying the game. I just have to use the best weapon I can find, and rest after combat, that's all. At least, at the level I've reached it works.
So back to the storyline for a moment. While the main story is rather linear, there are many more side quests in this game than I have found in most RPG's. And during these quests there is some variety in how you complete them as well. You really can, at least to some extent, develop Agavaen to be roguish and tough, or more feminine depending on how you respond to the various NPC's in game. None of these side quests are needed to complete the main storyline of the game, either, but they help. You'll gain items and experience while doing them, which makes completing the main quest easier. And besides, it is fun to figure out who really stole the statue from the center of town. Or solve the mystery of what happened to the blacksmith's son.
I am incredibly impressed with the voice acting in this game. Every single character I have met so far has a different voice to it, and the voice fits the personality and look of the character. From the merc captian with his gruff, tough voice, to the red-headed tavern keeper who sounds like he's straight from Ireland, every character has their own sound. Agavaen is feminine without being too soft or too “weak”, and fits the mannerisms given to her very well. Background sounds and music does tend to get repetative after a short time, but thankfully you can turn them off seperate from the voices. This is one of few games that I've played where I turn the system volume up on my computer (to be turned off again immediately after of course) and what I heard has added to the gameplay.
And the graphics are simply amazing. The towns I've been in have a look of being real, alive, with people going about their daily business. There are some glitches with the camera, but that seems to happen with every third-person RPG I've played. There are times when you just can't put the camera where it needs to be. For example, in one of the towns you have to run far to the right along a path. The problem is that your camera locks a good distance behind you when you start into the city, and there's a huge banner that covers much of your path, so you're just trying to guess how you have to turn. And there's times when tree cover blocks your view, so you have to pretty much guess how you're stuck. Thankfully the combat scene is always in one of a small handful of seperate backgrounds, so the area is always clear when you enter combat, and there the camera is rarely becomes an issue. Sometimes it will swing around to behind the enemy in these combat scenes, but I've never had trouble targetting or seeing what was going on due to the camera during combat. The game does pause pretty often to load the next area, too. I'm not sure if it is loading combat encounters and such, or loading graphics, but while running around outside it would pause to load quite frequently it seemed. To me it was worth it, though. The details on the characters and in the game world in general are great. I'd rather really know what my character looks like, see her look change with what she's wearing and carrying, and have to spend some time loading different scenes than have everything run super smoothly if it is just a single player RPG game, which of course, this is.
I like that you can save the game at any point, and have multiple saves. If you mess up and have hours of gameplay to repeat, the only one you have to blame is yourself. And you can lose the game by being defeated in combat. There's no second chance other than going back to an earlier save and moving forward again from there. Yes, this is something I found out the hard way. When little Agavaen dies, she really dies. You have to return to the last point she was living to continue your story. So learn from my mistake and save often, either in a new slot or overwrite a previous one if the game is going well.
What makes Neverend different as far as I'm concerned is the storyline, and after all, that's what is important in a roleplaying game, right? The voice acting and graphics only add to a great story making the game as a whole a true winner in my book. I'll return to it often until I've finished the whole game, and recommend it highly to anyone looking for a game with a great story. The combat system isn't at all complex, there's no major loot hoarding, or having to worry about great gear. There's a spell system, but as I said, I haven't used it because I can't figure it out. Quite simply the game is what, at least to me, a RPG should be. A fun way to hear and experience a story.
The “glory days” of computer gaming for me were when games like Spectre Supreme, Pirate’s Gold, the Might and Magic series, the original Prince of Persia… those sorts of games were coming out on a regular basis. Back then I owned a Macintosh and was a die hard Mac fan. I was one of the first in my area to buy an iMac and on it learned the joy of playing games on the internet like daily crossword puzzle and “mind bender” type puzzles. My first online RPG was given to me for Christmas the year EQ was released, and I was hooked from day one. I played EQ for about a year. I started playing DaoC during late alpha testing, and was hooked on it.. well, to be honest I still am. I’ve tried pretty much every MMORPG I can get my hands on, from big names like EQ, to more obscure ones such as Underlight. I’ve been writing for IMGS since the first DaoC guide, and find I love the challenge of learning a game and presenting what I’ve learned (and sometimes my opinions), to other players.
I’m not a very strong player as far as learning PvE or quick reaction times, so I tend to stay away from games where I’m pitted against someone else in a way that requires physical (rather than mental) response. I still enjoy story and puzzle games, and in a way that’s how I still approach online games. I would much rather spend hours working through a quest than 5 minutes in combat against another player. I still get lost in simulation type games, obsessing over them until I’ve gotten them beaten. And I like being able to sit down at the computer when I’ve got less than half an hour and playing through a few levels of a puzzle game. I tend not to like first-person shooter type games, or anything with person to person violence, so I steer away from them unless they are fantasy based settings. All in all, I enjoy computer gaming so much that my life feels incomplete somehow when my computer is down.