As someone who used to have a daily two-hour commute on the subway, I think I understand the value of mobile games better than the typical gamer. Sure, they tend to be light on content and heavy on money-grubbing, but they beat pulling out a 3DS or Vita on the train and begging someone to rob you; instead, you’ll just get robbed for your phone, which was probably going to happen anyway. Anyway, while you’ve still got a phone and are able to play it, let’s talk about mobile brawler Never Gone from Zhuhai HippieNetwork.
Never Gone has you controlling a demon hunter who spends most of their time beating up skeletons. You’ve got a melee combo, ideal for slicing up said skeletons, and you can also dodge, block and parry; that last one is key to doing well, as successfully parrying an attack results in a deadly counterattack that can turn the tide in battle. Attacks feel nice and have a solid sense of weight behind them, which is unusual for a mobile brawler. It’s also a fairly nice-looking game, with striking Gothic visuals; it’s probably best to ignore the game’s text, though, since the English script could have probably used another five to ten passes.
What’s not unusual for a mobile brawler is that movement and combat are handled using a standard virtual button setup. That means you can expect the equally standard cheap hits and deaths common to trying to play this kind of game on mobile. In particular, those melee combos are flashy but tend to have a fair amount of recovery, so if you start swinging and happen to be facing the wrong way you might be in trouble. A handheld or console port would do a lot for Never Gone.
The game is split up into a series of bite-sized levels consisting of a few battles each. Once you’ve murdered everything you’re done and can move on. Victory earns you loot, and you’ll need plenty of that in order to craft better gear, which rapidly becomes the most significant contributor to your success as the game proceeds.
Never Gone takes off the kid gloves very quickly, y’see. You can expect to be stomped as early as the first half-hour or so if you don’t stay on top of gear upgrades, and that’s going to mean grinding – lots and lots of grinding. You’ll grind for crafting components, you’ll grind for weapons and you’ll grind for armor; you’ll even grind for consumables, which remain used up if you attempt a stage and fail. While there’s no time-gating system in place here as in most mobile games, that doesn’t mean the game is going to let you progress without a fight.
You can expect to replay levels plenty of times looking for crafting materials in order to stand a chance against the baddies, and if the best gear you can craft still doesn’t cut it, you’ll have to grind for levels as well. This is a mobile game, so of course throwing money at Never Gone to get some extra help is an option. Despite being only a dollar, though, this is already a paid app, so when the game’s difficulty spikes like something out of a free-to-play cash-guzzler it stings a bit.
Still, Never Gone offers up pretty solid fighting action for a buck, and as a rule it’s not like mobile gaming is known for offering deep and involving gameplay. If you look at the insistence on grinding as just a means of extending the game’s content, then I suppose you’re really getting a decent value for your dollar. If you’re looking for a mobile game (and for whatever reason that game isn’t Pokemon Go), there are definitely worse options out there vying for your digital cash.