Neverliria takes a page straight out of fairy tales. You play as a small girl stuck in a dark forest full of spooky creatures. You're far too weak to fight these monstrosities and there's nowhere to run, so you'll do the only thing you can do. Survive.
In this particular title by no_rest, you begin standing next to a stone monument with a lit torch. Dark creatures with glowing green eyes emerge from either side of the screen. When they get too close to the torch, their eyes change color to orange and they are utterly paralyzed. You're safe for now, but your challenge truly begins when dawn comes and the monument's torch goes out forever.
Much like Minako, you have a number of practical problems to solve. The most pressing danger is the shadow people who start to appear every night. At first, you'll have to deal with simple melee warriors who smash your buildings and unarmed creatures that steal your stuff. Later on, you'll have to contend with archers, beefier melee fighters, and much worse. Thankfully, campfires or a trusty phoenix can keep them at bay. The challenge gets all the more intense as your hamlet grows in size.
The secondary element of danger is going hungry. Corn is abundant at first, but the world of Neverliria is a fixed size. You'll have to get to farming once you've grabbed up all of the plants that the map begins with and those farms will need to be defended.
As you explore the map, you'll discover interesting events that unlock new buildings and present new opportunities. The first phoenix you find will be a godsend - a permanent source of illumination. This allows you to protect a building or two without having to worry about it. It would certainly be handy to have more than one and it's entirely possible to get them. Still, I'd prefer not to go into too much detail. Part of the magic of Neverliria is discovering these things on your own.
Like many survival experiences, my first two attempts ended because I made a stupid mistake or I didn't quite yet understand the game. The third go-around was my most successful. I was just a few days away from repairing an important building in the wilderness and moving on.
Unfortunately, I failed to understand an important mechanic. I was quickly overwhelmed when the enemy made their way right into the heart of my base.
In a way, Neverliria is a puzzle game. You'll need to do A to be able to produce B which will let you produce C. Going in with this mindset is arguably the key to success. You're also under a serious time pressure - new enemies pop up every few days and they will provide new challenges that you'll have to mitigate if you want to live.
I realize the mistake that led to my third death (and the conclusion of my preview session). I think that I can prevent it in a future attempt, but I half-wonder if I would have survived even without having made that mistake. One gets the sense that there is a grand mystery to unravel, but I'm not quite certain if I've figured out how to do it before things go sideways.
That is, perhaps, one of the most wonderful things about the game. It's a challenge, but most importantly of all, it's a fair challenge. I've spent a little under four hours with the game. I can already hear the gears turning in my head trying to make everything work.
Graphically, Neverliria is a simple affair with clean pixel art similar in style to that of Gods Will Be Watching. I enjoyed the aesthetic and liked the simple, spooky designs of the shadow people who assaulted my base every night.
As for the sound, the daytime music track is wonderfully calming. Sunset replaces it with a haunting sound that makes you wish you had a heck of a lot more protecting you than a simple campfire and a couple of walls.
I find myself struggling to criticize Neverliria. The fact that it doesn't explain many of the game's elements well can arguably be viewed as a downside. Personally, I enjoyed the sense of discovery and viewed the mystery of the understanding game's creatures, buildings, and mechanics as a big part of the fun.
If you like to know how all of the moving parts of a game work before going in, Neverliria probably isn't for you. If you prefer a strategy survival game that can throw you a curveball and challenge you to figure things out on your own, you should pick up this game right now.
TechRaptor covered Neverliria on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.
What do you think of Neverliria? Do you want your games to spell everything out or do you like to figure things out on your own? Let us know in the comments below!