iOS, Android, tablet, cell phone, none of these things bring to mind Gaming when I think about them, yet they are some of the largest platforms for gaming today. With games like Clash of Clans being purchased for over 9 billion dollars, it’s no wonder so many game makers are doing what they can to get their games on iOS and Android alike. Mobile gaming is the largest gaming market, period. Yet I still resist the idea of playing games on my iPhone 6 Plus. Sure, it has the large screen, sure I have the Mophie Juice Pack so it has extended battery life and I can actually hold it, but still, it’s a work device more than anything else.
Until I got my hands on Never Gone. Having never been a mobile gamer, this game is fun. This game is something I didn’t expect to have as much fun playing as I have since I got it. As an old school side scrolling, button smashing RPG, Never Gone did something only Hearthstone has gotten me to do in the past, play a game on my phone while watching TV with my family. The great thing about the game is that it’s perfect, giving bite size chunks in which I found easy to get in and out of the game, make progress, and be able to pick up right where I left off and not feel confused or need a few minutes to get reacquainted with what I was doing. 5 minutes here, 15 minutes there, doesn’t matter, you can get in, have some fun, and put it down when you need to.
Where this game excels for me on my larger phone is the “button” spacing. My largest complaints with most games is that it’s not real buttons, it’s hard for me to know where I’m pressing, I have fat fingers so I would press buttons I often didn’t mean to, and I would feel like the experience was missing a game pad. Surprisingly, Never Gone did not do that for me. With a D-Pad on the left, and in a comfortable spot, not too in the way but not too small to be unusable for my fat fingers, and with 3 primary buttons, this game struck a balance of size, location and amount of buttons that gives both great game play but also left most of the screen for the game itself.
The graphics of the game are both effective and decent to look at, and have a slight tone of Darkest Dungeon, at least that’s a game that has similar graphic feel to me. It’s been a darker game from a color palette so far, but that’s okay as the color isn’t over done in one way or the other. The art style is very JRPG inspired, too. Overall, the mix of an older gothic European setting and the JRPG influenced character designs make an overall compelling game to look at.
How does the game play, though? Well, there are a few things that Hippie Games did right for me. The first is the side scrolling aspect of it. Begin simple in design makes it simple to play. Being simple to play makes it enjoyable on my phone. If this was on a PC, I would be wanting more, because I would be able to do more, but on the mobile it’s perfect. With a main town/quest hub, you have access to things like a blacksmith, inventory, and other magic upgrades, along with quest givers and a merchant.
On the subject of the merchant, there is both gold and gems used in game. Gold and Gems can both be purchased in app, and both can be earned through game play. Having a starter set of gold and gems is nice though, and a total investment of about $10 makes this game really playable without feeling too constrained.
The RPG elements are here, and they’re done surprisingly well. With the ability to find schematics for weapons and armor, collecting crafting materials as you finish each battle, and crafting weapons that get stronger as you upgrade them, everything felt right and natural from that perspective. Also, the way experience is earned and you can level up is natural feeling as well. I don’t know if there is more to the game so far than just leveling up over time, such as a talent tree for example, but even with the progress I’ve made so far, the leveling feel satisfying, and is the constant goal to keep me playing. With a talent system of some sort, this might just be perfect from the RPG standpoint.
Gameplay is fun. Get your quest, go to the location, and slash away. There are three primary buttons to go with your D-Pad, Attack, Jump and Block. Of course if you combine them in different ways, you can vary the game play to fit the situation, which is good because most of what ends up happening is button smashing your way through hordes of mobs. That wasn’t meant to be a slight against the game, either, because a game like this needs to have lots of mobs for me to hit, it feels better. When you start with only a few, it’s not as satisfying, and as the horde grows, the feeling of power and fun grows, until you end up with only a few left, and then I find myself ready to finish them off because only a couple isn’t nearly as fun. The ability to execute combos is great, and the ability to have a big attack if you combo enough felt very satisfying. When I think about, talk about, or play this game, the main word that comes to me is “surprisingly fun”. Again, this is mostly due to the fact that I am NOT an avid Mobile gamer, in fact I’ve been quite against mobile gaming. But, Never Gone accomplishes what so many other games have not, to get me to want to play it again after the first couple of times of trying it out.
So, Never Gone, is it perfect? No. Have I come across any bugs yet? No. Is it a mobile game that has a base price $2.99 and in app purchases of Gold and Gems? Yes. Have I finished the game entirely? No. Is there a lot more to play? Yes. Is the game FUN? Absolutely. Will I finish this game? There’s a really good chance that I will! Hippie Games has accomplished something that nobody else has on mobile, keeping my attention with solid game play, and I look forward to finishing the game. If you’ve got $3 to spare and want a good game, then I can say with certainty, this should be at the top of your list of games to get.
Disclosure: This game was provided to TheGWW.com for review by Hippie Games but in no way influenced my opinion of the game.