App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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It can be tough to make a runner that stands out these days, but that is the least of Aerial_Knight's Never Yield's concerns. With a distinct visual style and energetic original soundtrack, this game constantly works to grab your attention, but it only manages to do so in fits and starts. So many of this independently developed project's many pieces just don't quite gel the way you expect them to, making it hard to fully appreciate all of its cool ideas.
Aerial_Knight's Never Yield has you play as Wally, a man on the run from a facility where he was seemingly cloned. This kicks off what is essentially an extended chase sequence that takes you into the heart of a futuristic version of Detroit, complete with drone armies, robot legs, and a genetically modifed arch rival who can shoot swords via telekinesis.
As Wally runs along, there are all kinds of things that get in his way, but you can tap on the screen in different places to have Wally sprint, jump, vault, or slide to avoid injury and keep moving forward. The further you get into the city, you learn slightly more about Wally, though only through wordless cutscenes that don't truly spell anything out.
The most standout quality of Aerial_Knight's Never Yield is definitely its audio/visual style. With a low-poly--almost cel-shaded--look and a soundtrack of propulsive beats, the game evokes iconic experiences like Jet Grind Radio while never feeling like it's cribbing material from them.
Unfortuntely, Never Yield almost never quite feels as good to play as it looks. This starts with the game's controls, which awkwardly (and invisibly) divide your device screen into four buttons (though you can opt to play via swipes). Neither of these schemes feels quite right, though, particularly because Never Yield also has a slow motion mechanic designed to help you read and react to obstacles more easily but sometimes activates so early ahead of a hazard that you end up vaulting right into a low table or slide just ahead of a tunnel instead of smoothy traversing them as expected.
Never Yield isn't a terribly long game, but that's honestly probably a good thing. By the time you're about halfway through it, obstacles start looking more than familiar. Once you dial in how to time maneuvers around the slow motion windows, you can easily sail through levels without having to retry at all.
It's in this state of familiarity and flow that Aerial_Knight's Never Yield's starts to shine. Stringing together long combos of parkour while buildings explode around you and a jazzy hip-hop beat plays in the background can be pretty satisfying. That said, it's just not that easy to find this state of being in the game, primarily because of the controls. If you hit an obstacle and have to restart, Never Yield does quickly pop you back to a checkpoint, but as those get further and further apart between tons of obstacles, dying because you reacted to a cue that was too early gets more and more frustrating.
The bottom line
I wish more of Aerial_Knight's Never Yield came together to feel a little tighter and well composed. Almost everything going on in it is fine, good, and even cool on paper, but they just don't seem fully realized and stitched together seamlessly here. As a result, Aerial_Knight's Never Yield is certainly a memorable experience, but not necessarily one I can fully recommend.