It feels like by this point in time, after many many years of flooding mobile devices, the side-scrolling runner needs to do something pretty special to stand out. Can that something special solely be a tremendous style and a kick ass soundtrack? The answer to that, for me at least, is yes as evidenced by Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield. This stylish runner launched on console and PC about a year ago, with a massive update hitting those versions this past February. Now Headup has brought the game and its major update to iOS and Android devices where it feels right at home as a mobile game.
Mechanically, Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is solid. You have 4 actions available, each assigned to one quadrant of the screen. Tap left to vault over objects or otherwise to a mid-sized jump, tap the top of the screen to do a full sized jump, tap and hold the bottom of the screen to slide, and press the right side of the screen to sprint. Nothing groundbreaking, but a fun mix of moves that demand quick thinking when determining which one to use on each object or situation you encounter.
There are a few things that I thought were pretty clever that help you with what move to use when. First is that objects have a colored outline around them basically telling you which move to use. Yellow is vault, red is jump, and blue is slide. This might sound like it makes things too easy, but trust me, it does not. Next is a difficulty selection that gives you 3 different levels of assistance in the forms of a warning when an object is coming up as well as a bullet-time-style slowdown that gives you more time to react to said upcoming object.
The reason I find this so clever is that Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is a level-based runner, and you’re timed on every level. Slowing things down may give you more chance to react, but it’s a bad move if you want a time that’s somewhat respectable on the leaderboards. Also, while I found these assists helpful when first learning the game, the slowing time really messes with the rhythm of the game, and I actually found myself doing much better on the “hardcore" mode with no assists at all. Another clever touch is your 4th move, the sprint, which doesn’t have any color-coded indicator of when you should use it, but if scoring good completion times is important to you then you should pretty much be using it whenever you have the chance.
So in explaining the gameplay in Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield, I’ve sort of contradicted my own statement in the beginning. This game actually is pretty darn mechanically interesting after all. But when you step back and look at the incredible visual style, the interesting story (in a runner!), and the absolutely killer soundtrack tying it all together, then yeah, these elements really would have been enough to carry an entire game even if it was simply average on a mechanical level. Thankfully, Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is the full package, delivering both style and substance.
While I love that a runner would be story-based in the first place, and with an actually interesting story to boot, Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield isn’t the longest game around to complete. That’s where that previously mentioned big update comes in, as it added an entire Endless mode as well as a number of bonus levels that will seriously test your skills and challenge what you thought you knew about this game. All this for just a few bucks. Even if you think you might be totally burnt out on runners, Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield might just change your mind, and even if it doesn’t, at least you can bop your head to its amazing soundtrack for a while.