And now for something completely different. Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is certainly refreshingly so, feeling like a cross between Bit Trip Runner and Jet Set Radio. What we have here is a 3D side-scroller where your character does all the legwork automatically. Your job is to ensure he dodges the various obstacles that come thick and fast.
You play as Wally, who is being pursued by the authorities throughout a city he is trying to save, whilst at the same time rediscovering his own past (I think). He instantly reminds of Travis Touchdown from No More Heroes, quite the cool customer indeed. It’s not the easiest narrative to follow (partly because there’s no dialogue), however there are brief cutscenes in between each of the thirteen levels which move the story along. All in all, you’ll comfortably beat the game in around 90 minutes on your first run through, as playing on the normal difficulty is your only option to begin with.
As Wally runs by himself, you’re just left to control his jumps, slides and dashes in order to avoid obstacles. Each of these is mapped to a direction on the D-Pad, or A, B, X and Y if you prefer. There are two types of jump depending on the hazard, slides will enable you to pass through low spaces and dashing will see you safely break through windows.
All obstacles are colour coded, so you can learn to associate the moves to the type of obstacle to improve the speed of your reactions. You’ll also get colour coded warnings to give you a heads up of what kind of obstacle you’re about to encounter. Not only this, but as you approach them time itself will slow down to give you a small window to pull off the correct move, which on the normal difficulty is fairly forgiving if you’re a tad slow on the uptake.
As you run, jump and dodge your way through the neo-futuristic city, the later levels start to play across different planes and angles, which make things more challenging. For example, you’ll be vertically running up buildings and facing hazards head on at times, requiring you to re-think which button you need to press to pull off the right move. Things even get totally inverted at one point, testing your ability to think on your feet (quite literally). Thankfully, there are a generous amount of checkpoints in Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield, so death is never too much of a setback.
If you happen to find the hidden “N” coins in the levels, you’ll be thrown into a bonus stage. This arcade Tron-style affair is much more challenging than the regular levels. Whilst collecting coins you’ll have to quickly react to avoid pesky green blockades of all heights, in a battle to survive as long as you can. As in the main game, if you make contact with just one of the obstacles your run will come to a premature end. There are no checkpoints here either, giving the bonus levels an endless mode flavour to them.
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield certainly oozes style, and this is evident in the look and feel of the game. The cel-shaded, neon-coloured visuals match the futuristic city setting perfectly (it’s a futuristic Tokyo-inspired Detroit if you’re wondering), reminiscent of Blade Runner and Altered Carbon. It also sounds brilliant too, backed by a funky but varied soundtrack created by Detroit artist Danime-Sama.
It’s not just the obstacles that come thick and fast in Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield. Achievements are easy to come by and you’ll be raking in the Gamerscore for completing levels, pulling off moves and even simply for watching cutscenes. You’ll also earn different costumes for Wally as you beat each level, which can be accessed from the main menu. Groovy.
Despite the game being so short, there is some replay value to be had. Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is designed to be played through multiple times as once you complete it, you will unlock the hard and insane difficulty modes. These will reduce your reaction times, warning times and throw more obstacles at you to boot. Beyond this, you’ll be replaying levels to beat your personal bests (if that’s your sort of thing).
However, despite this there’s no getting away from the fact that Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is a very short game. Thankfully, it’s a truly enjoyable experience that will likely tempt you back to play more than once. It offers something different from the vast amount of games that are released in today’s market, and deserves full credit for it. One thing is for sure, developer Neil Jones (A.K.A “Aerial_Knight”) is an exciting talent. I cannot wait to see what he works on next.
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield offers something different, which is no easy task these days. Despite it’s short, ahem, runtime it’s well-crafted enough to warrant multiple playthroughs.
Run through Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One