Relax and Solve Puzzles – What Never Was Review

7.9

This adventure game is a reminder of how enjoyable the genre can be with a good story. Made by Acke Hallgren in the Unreal Engine, this brief point-and-click allows players to explore an attic that has some unexpected items. With puzzles that are just challenging enough, it is both relaxing and frustrating in a way that only adventure games can be.

The main menu screen for What Never Was

Narrative

The premise is that you are a young woman named Sarah on her way to clear out the belongings of your recently deceased grandfather. All of this is through an opening scene where Sarah is on the phone with her mom. Its portrayal, or lack thereof, is through a black screen where the usage of sound effects and voice acting say to the player everything they need to know. It is in this moment that the voice acting seems less than convincing as some lines sound hollow.

Once in the game, exploring the level brings light to the relationship Sarah and her grandfather had. It is clear she is in mourning, but other in-game observations show the protagonist to being optimistic and whimsical as well. All of these qualities make her a likable character to play.

Gameplay

There is no mistake that the game looks beautiful. The number of objects a player can interact with is surprising for taking place all in one room. There are some small issues in the user interface and level design, but these do not detract from the core concepts of the game. Perhaps the biggest frustration is when left-clicking or right-clicking on objects. In most other adventure games, a left-click means to interact whereas a right-click is an observation. However, this reversed in What Never Was and only explained once a player picks up an item.


One of the puzzle pieces of the game highlighted on a globe.

Conclusion

Even though it was a game I beat in less than an hour; I still enjoyed it immensely. I love that it is an adventure game in every sense possible. From the puzzles to Sarah’s remarks to the intriguing story that we don’t get enough of, I am excited to see what Acke Hallgren develops next. Hopefully, it is more of the above with polish.

Who Should Play?
For any adventure game fan, it's a must, while for others it's a good introduction to the genre.
Design7
Narrative8
Graphics8
Music8.5
Reader Rating2 Votes9.7
Pros
Good story and gameplay
The credits pay homage to other developers
Awesome music
Cons
The layout of items in-game could be improved
The left/right clicks being reversed is not the norm in the genre.
Felt more like a demo than a game
7.9

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