Once upon a time, a young girl with fire in her hair lived in the woods, and went on an adventure into the dark forest of Neverliria. The only ways of protecting herself from the shadows and the darkness is light itself.
That is the premise of Neverliria, by the developer SmartHart Games. You are the last hope the survivors of Neverliria have as you use light to resist the creatures of the night.
This survival sandbox game is designed to test what you learn from each failed attempt at surviving the night when trying to light as many fires as you can against your enemy.
Into the woods…
Neverliria starts immediately at night, with one lit fire helping you stay alive through it as you explore your whereabouts. A plaque on the stone wall gives you a brief tutorial which should be enough to find out where to go from there.
At the top left of your screen, you see two lines: one with five hearts and another with seven circles. The heart determines your health whilst the circles indicate your hunger level.
On the top right of the screen, you have a clock that indicates important moments throughout the day, from when the sun sets and the sun rises, to when a glowing orb sets its location every night.
There are trees that you can cut down to make wood (by using Q to interact and E to pick up), corn crops that you can harvest, herb bushes where you can collect aid, and stone walls that you can break down for stone. All of these can help with building constructions and surviving.
There are twenty different types of buildings available for you to choose from, with many different functions. There are crop areas and sections you can build to have a constant supply of different sources such as corn and wood. There are furnaces and windmills that you can use to make beer and bread. In terms of defenses, you can build walls and fireplaces that can help you with your defence.
When travelling Neverliria, you come across different ruins left by previous landowners fleeing from the creatures, architecture with hidden lights and statues, trees with hanging skeletons, and finally settlements of survivors who are trying to find refuge.
By donating resources or offering gifts, you find out cool new features that you can use to build up your camp defences.
However, when you die, you die. When your health runs out, you return to the beginning with a clean slate.
It’s Okay To Fail
For the first few hours of playing this game, it’s rewarding to try out multiple attempts in surviving because you are learning from each failure. The first attempt will always be a learning curve.
When wandering through the forest, you have a basic understanding of how things work but do not have a strategic plan to help you through it. From personal experience, the first death was caused by starvation.
What is great about Neverliria is how easy it is to understand the function of the game and the different controls. Even without the tutorial, the rest of the information can be discovered by yourself.
Whilst the function of collecting resources to make buildings that help with creating more resources is a common theme in survival games, in Neverliria it flows with ease.
Got No Chance?
However, it feels like there are certain features that make Neverliria impossible to complete. Firstly, there is the issue with the creatures.
The difficulty of each monster increases after each night, from ones that are not equipped with weapons to those blindfolded and immune to light, and then those who have weapons that can knock down walls and are immune to light.
The issue is with this last creature because there seems to be no way to defend yourself, even with light. Some nights are easier, whilst others are so difficult to survive because you’re bombarded with different types of monsters. Aside from killing you, they also steal and damage your chests, resources, and buildings.
If there was a way to time these attacks and have specific defenses for the most difficult monsters, then it would be helpful to get through it.
Time Is Running Out!
There was also the issue of time in the game. Starting out in the game, it’s always tempting to walk around the whole map and collect all the resources you possibly can. However, it’s difficult to do that when you’re carrying a large chest and daylight only lasts five minutes. It takes a third of the daytime to travel to one of the far ends of the map, and a third to travel back to the plaque.
It seems that most of the time of the day is spent carrying the chest and running to get back to your camp. You have to make sure you choose only one task to focus on in the day to give yourself travelling time. The way that they could have improved this is by adding another share to day and night, to total eight instead of six.
Give Neverliria A Chance?
As a general tip for anyone interested in Neverliria, which is a game that does stand out from the genre, it’s always best to invest in chests and growing crops and herbs from the very first night.
Neverliria is a challenging survival game that stands on its own with its beautiful pixel art and strategic placing of different resource and building unlocks. You may lose interest in the game out of frustration or continue to the bitter end to finally defeat the creatures. Either way, this won’t happen unless you take that step forward into the darkness…into Neverliria.