STAFF REVIEW of Nevermind (Xbox One)

Monday, January 30, 2017.
by Adam Dileva

Nevermind Box art I absolutely love games that break the norm and that take risks to try something new, even if it’s completely way out there. Sometimes this works wonderfully, giving you a truly unique gaming experience that is memorable, while other times, not so much, falling flat and almost feeling too niche. The more abstract and interesting the better though. Where does the recently released Nevermind fall into this spectrum?

Nevermind’s narrative places you in the role of the newest doctor at a specialty facility. You’re what they call a Neuroprober, a therapist of sorts that helps patients deal with their emotional traumas that they are enduring in their lifetime. What makes these specialists unique though is that they actually venture into ones mind, seeing an abstract version of one's thoughts and feelings. To add to this, since you aren’t directly talking with a patient like a normal therapist, you will need to figure out what much of the symbolism and surroundings mean on your own, but that’s why you’re one of the Neuroprobers that people come to see.

I absolutely loved the premise once I read about Nevermind. Truth be told, I never heard of the game when it originally released for PC back in 2015. I wasn’t a fan of smaller titles like this back then, so I’m glad my tastes have changed over the years, and even more so that I got to try Nevermind, as there really is nothing like it.

While it has puzzle elements to it, Nevermind is more akin to a walking simulator. You begin by entering your facility as the newest addition to the team. You log into the roster with your name, whatever you want it to be but not that it makes any difference in game. There’s a training level that simulates being inside a patients mind, but don’t let that opening stage fool you, as it is interesting, but it’s nothing like the experiences inside an actual in-game person’s mind.

You’ll find yourself walking through a forest area in the training level, and while it may give off a horror game vibe, it’s not. Sure, there are times where the imagery may be creepy and a little spooky, and there’s no combat whatsoever, you’ll simply be searching for photographs which will help you close out, and hopefully mentally heal each patient.

The greatest strength of Nevermind is its imagery. There’s nothing like going inside of a patient’s mind and seeing how seriously screwed up the things their subconscious can look. You’ll see city blocks tipping over, creepy mannequins, a desert of metronomes, spiraling corridors and more. I’d honestly love to give a detailed description of each patient’s psyche, but some of the best parts of Nevermind is experiencing the truly unique surroundings. Some of it is clearly disturbing, as it stems from a seriously screwed up situation in each patients life, but that’s what makes Nevermind so unique, as it feels like you’re seeing things about a person that they would never share otherwise.

There’s only a handful of patients, and with each one only taking roughly an hour to complete, you’ll get roughly 6 or so hours of gameplay. Your goal is to usually help the person realize something traumatic they’ve been through, or how to come to terms with it. Because you’re in a person’s subconscious, many of the puzzles you’ll be dealing with are very obtuse. While I do enjoy that they have a representation and meaning, the obscurity of the meaning behind each can make it difficult to figure out what to do at times as there’s no clear explanation of what you might need to do or how to do it.

The main goal of neuroprobing is to find and collect 10 different photographs, each of which has a picture and writing that relates to their backstory or situation. Since the game is essentially linear you can’t progress to the subsequent area without collecting everything you need to. It’s impossible to miss these photos as long as you’re looking for them for the most part.

The most important thing to remember is to pay attention and listen to everything going on around you. Once you collect all 10 photos you’ll need to choose the 5 “correct” ones and place them in order to tell the story of what tragic event happened in their life or their backstory. While I get the symbolism for these end-level puzzles, these sections are the most frustrating part of Nevermind. You aren’t told which pictures are wrong if you don’t choose the correct 5, and even if you have the correct ones you won't be told which ones are in the right or wrong order. So, many times you’ll be trying to solve these sections with trial and error rather than logic. It’s frustrating, not fun at all, and the ‘solution’ doesn’t always make sense.

If you were following the PC release you’ll know that the game originally had support for ‘biofeedback’, a device that allowed the game to react to your heart rate and emotions, supposedly making a more terrifying experience. I would have loved to try this feature out, but unfortunately it was not possible at this time to bring the biofeedback to the Xbox One version of Nevermind.

What Nevermind excels in is immersing you into a world that seems like only someone tripping on bad drugs could come up with, which is a great setting for the subconscious mind. The themes and stories are incredibly adult based and deal with some serious issues, one of which kind of hit home with me and made me choke up a bit given the events that played out. The individual stories are meaningful and deal with very touchy and sensitive issues, so those that are very emotional about certain topics might want to take heed.

What’s lacking is an overall narrative. You simply help one patient after another, but there’s no overarching storyline aside from getting a thank you note once you’ve helped them via your neuroprobing. You don’t even see anyone in your facility, making the setting feel a little too sterile at times. If you can deal with its' obvious flaws, obtuse puzzles, and lack of meaty ‘gameplay’, Nevermind is truly a unique title worth checking out if you want to see some astonishing imagery, some of which there is a good chance that you've never seen anything like it.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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