Never Give Up is a fantastically frustrating game that wants you to succeed. It tests your memory and resolve throwing harder challenges as you try to master each level.
Never Give Up is a hardcore platform game developed by Tasselfoot and Massive Monster, and published by Armor Games Studios. Building upon the successes of their original Flash games Give Up and Give Up 2, Never Give Up released on Steam and Nintendo Switch on August 13, 2019 and has been breaking hearts, minds, keyboards and controllers ever since.
You play as Blue, a ridiculously good looking dude who rocks an optional red scarf as you embark on an adventure to find oneself. Blue is voiced by Arin Hanson, known as Egoraptor on Game Grumps, an online show focusing on comedy and video games. His entertaining voice heckles you like crazy as you repeatedly throw yourself to the whim of the gaming gods. You need to traverse across multiple game worlds, each with several rooms and challenging bosses while dying over and over and over again. It may sound like a horrible game but I laughed so hard, as did my wife next to me and viewers as I streamed the game. It’s a lot of fun if you don’t let the failures get to you and learn from the mistakes.
Each world has several rooms and each room has a number of levels that you need to pass. The first time you complete a level, you may think, well that was easy. Yeah, don’t. After completing a level, you will do that same level again but this time with more traps and things that can … no, will kill you. After conquering that harder level, it gets harder. And harder. And harder… until you finally triumph and complete that damn stage. There are six unique worlds and bosses to conquer with over 30 level sets totalling over 150 levels. There are easy, hard and insane difficulty levels. The only difference between easy and hard is that easy has checkpoints, but the difficulty and challenge of the levels is still there. I’ve never appreciated checkpoints more than when playing Never Give Up!
You may have to double-jump to cross a wide expanse, land on a platform then jump up over an obstacle and run to the finishing door. The next level is the same room with the wide gap, platform and obstacle to jump, only now there’s a spike at the top of the obstacle so you need to jump higher. The next level has the spikes, but also has a turret that shoots a homing missile at you. Oh and there’s now spikes on the roof so you can’t jump as high as before, so there’s added intensity to get to the door quickly. The next level includes the homing missiles, but also a laser beam that fires right as you attempt the double-jump. This is just a small sample of the crazy things that can happen. Did I mention there are killer charging rhinos?!
There are blocks that will fall if you stay on them too long, buttons to pass which will drop barriers, hidden blocks that only reveal once you get close enough, hidden passageways with items and coins to collect as well to distract you. The coins collected can unlock some of the 21 great costumes available for Blue which adds to the humour of the game. Some of those coins cost me many deaths, and some were just too hard for me to get. This was especially so on stages where a spike wall is constantly moving across the level meaning you have to make perfectly timed moves to be able to escape in time. The game’s music also keeps up the tempo and ensures you don’t get complacent.
Like most platform games, patterns start to emerge and the more you play, the better you get at the game. This is certainly true for this game, and more. Muscle memory and twitch reflexes are your best friend, and your worst enemy in Never Give Up. The developers want you to succeed, hence the title of the game, despite you wanting to give up again and again. The game even tempts you after a certain number of deaths with a big red “Give Up” button that is frustratingly tempting to press. I admit, I’ve pressed it more than once. If you do in fact give up, the game taunts you for it. Your split times are saved and there are global leaderboards to measure yourself against other like-minded fools attempting this game. Speed runners would excel in this type of game with practice.
In previous games where I’ve hit a difficulty wall that I cannot surpass, I would ordinarily rage quit the game and more often than not, not return to that game for years. However despite me dieing an embarassing number of times, in Never Give Up I learned with each death and felt myself getting better all the time. The hilarious comments made by Blue as he dies, such as “Ow, my spleen!” and the sometimes grotesque but funny ways Blue dies helped me to see the humour in my mistakes and I whooped for joy everytime I cleared a stage. The initial boss fights took me ages to conquer, but like most platformers, you just need to work out their patterns and their telling signs.
Overall I gave the game 8/10. Never Give Up is a fantastically frustrating game that wants you to succeed. It tests your memory and resolve throwing harder challenges as you try to master each level. Just when you have the perfect path mapped out in your brain and muscle memory through the controller, the game will throw multiple curve balls at you, tempting you to give up. As the name of the game suggests, Never Give Up and you will eventually triumph. I highly recommend this game for fans of platform games and anyone wanting a good laugh at your own misfortune.
This review utilised a Steam key provided by the publisher. Never Give Up is available now on Steam and Nintendo Switch.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis