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The Neverhood is an amazing game, created by one of the bastard off-spring of Steven Spielberg.

Playing it is like living in a Claymation world. The entire game is done completely with clay. Several tons of it, in fact. And the occasional wire.

The game world is simple and varied. I think what struck me most about it was that there was no sky. Just black going off into infinity. It contrasts wonderfully with the vibrant colors of The Neverhood, which is done in a marvelously simple and innocent style.

The plot of the Neverhood is revealed in two ways. The deep backstory is revealed by a parody of the bible, written on the walls of a very long hall which you must walk down to get something. I wish I had the text of that wall, because it's a pain to read it off the wall - although it is well worth it. The backstory is revealed by a series of, if memory serves, 20 videos narrated by a guy named Willy.

The plot is nifty. It's similar to many things, and because it is never explicitly stated, you are free to form your own conclusions. All you get is a backstory and events in the game.

I think the plot of The Neverhood is the same as the Bible's - man's fall and redemption. But who knows?


About The Neverhood

The Neverhood was created by a number of talented developers. You could learn more at www.neverhood.com , which is now mostly dead; I'll save you some time lurking through dead links and put some info up here.

The Neverhood was made for Windows 95 - it was "A Microsoft/Dreamworks SKG joint venture", according to the box. Quotes from the box:

  • Point and click your way through more than 60 hilarious and twisted puzzles.
  • Effectes created with more than 3 tons of clay and over 50,000 frames of animation.
  • Total immersion. No need to keep track of maps, scores, or inventory. (This is true - The Neverhood is one of those rarer types of adventure games that succesfully does away with _all_ status indicators. Either you have something, or you don't. There aren't a lot of inventory items, and the puzzles and doors are simple enough to solve from memory. This is impressive.)
  • For ages 17 and up
  • "Embark on a clay adventure that breaks the mold."
  • Immerse yourself in the strange clay-animated world of the Neverhood, a challenging adventure chock-full of mind-wrenching mysteries and an onslaught of odd-ball humor.
  • Born into a Neverhood that may never exist, Klaymen explores a land of terrifying creatures, extraordinary machines and mysterious artifacts. Long ago the king of this world was betrayed by his trusted assistant. You must save the Neverhood by navigating Klaymen through a twisted plot of ancient secrets, witty inventions and monstrous puzzles to defeat your nasty foe.
  • System Requirements: Pentium 75 MHZ, 8 MB RAM (16 MB recommended). Quad speed CD-ROM, SVGA monitor. 8 bit Windows-compatible sound card and speakers (16-bit recommended). 10 MB hard disk space, requires Windows 95

There is a marvellous Making Of video on The Neverhood CD - I'd advise you to watch it. Very nifty animation on some parts. Love those spiders. And watching the junior programmer smash the senior programmer's computer.

In addition, The Neverhood has a crazy sound track. It's hard to describe, but it's very whimsical, much like the game itself. Terry S. Taylor is responsible for it - I recommend you locate it and listen to it. It's excellent.

Related Games

Warning! Don't jump into the writeup! You will have the adventure spoiled!

In the beginning, Father (an omnipresent being very similar to God) created Quater, who created seven offspring - from memory, the order is Ogdilla, Bertbert, Numeron, Ottoborg, Homen, Hoborg and Arven. Hoborg (a name that is supposed to mean "big heart") was created to be kind, creative, and caring. Perfect for the creator of the Neverhood.

Willie and Big Robot Bil were both created by Ottoborg, and they went off with Hoborg in order to find the finest 'klay' in the universe. While they were there, they were chased by a monster, and had to offload most of the klay to escape. But they had enough to create the Neverhood, "a world which would last forever, so long as nothing went wrong" (at which point, Hoborg's story in the Hall Of Records suddenly stops). So, it transpires, Hoborg created the Neverhood from this 'klay', and was very lonely (although goodness knows why - he had Willie and Bil still around), so he created Klogg, who became greedy and stole Hoborg's crown.

Klaymen is the hero of the Neverhood. He was specially created by his own cousin (no jokes about incest, PLEASE!) in order to save the Neverhood from Klogg, and help it become complete. To do so, Klaymen must navigate himself through the weird, wacky world, solving puzzles, remembering symbols, and trying not to die in the process.

Aside from all of that, The Neverhood is actually quite a delightful game with some very interesting puzzles to solve. I can remember I was given it as a gift many years ago, and missed out on the simple puzzle of turning on the water from the skull-like tap (rhino? triceratops?). I picked up on this a couple of weeks ago, when I dug it up again and started using it. It was then that I started getting things together, and finally managed to win and see both the endings - a short one, where Klaymen takes the crown for himself, and the substantially longer one, where Klaymen, through a marvellous display of agility, puts the crown on Hoborg's head, where it belongs.

This game is especially good because, unlike other adventure games, it is virtually impossible to die - "unless your boss comes around the corner and busts you for playing this game. There is only one place you can die in the Neverhood, and it is clearly marked". (Those who are curious and want to see Klaymen meet his demise, SAVE THE GAME FIRST! ...of course, this is common sense anyway.)

The Neverhood has been impressively made. It is one of very few games to be made completely out of claymation - others including Wallace & Gromit: Cracking Animator. The Neverhood gets its laughs from its non-PC style and unrealistic scenery - and yes, seeing a blue goat being squashed. Funny, challenging, colourful and appealing - a good game, although not really a must-have in this world of almost perfect 3D rendering.

Three out of five.

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