There were plenty of exciting announcements in this morning’s Future Games Show at Gamescom: a shadow drop of an English update for the Steam version of Wizardry: The Five Ordeals; an intriguing-looking climate change-themed city builder in Floodland; the release of a demo for character action game Soulstice; among many others. Amid all that, there’s one particular reveal that stood out: NeverAwake, an indie twin-stick shooter that takes place within the nightmares of a girl trapped in an eternal slumber.
In lieu of the typical enemies you might expect to fight in a game like this, NeverAwake pits you against… vegetables, dentists, homework, dogs, and anything else that protagonist has had a bad childhood experience with. While that may sound like the premise for something humorous, the nightmarish designs suggest anything but, instead blending the strange and surreal into something grotesquely mesmerising and downright creepy, with stylised hand-drawn art to really bring that effect to life.
The game promises 80 levels, dozens of bosses, multiple endings based on how you play, and a unique gameplay system that means each level loops, getting progressively harder, until players are able to destroy all the enemies within it. It’s a design intended to create a shoot’-em-up that’s both approachable and challenging, according to developer Hiroshi Sawatari:
“I aimed to create a shooting game accessible to all, and a neverending nightmarish loop of the same stage repeated over and over again seemed like an ideal way for players to progress at their own pace. By designing the enemies from elements we all have feared or loathed in our lives, we hoped to create a setting that is both horrifying and sympathetic.”
NeverAwake is the latest game from Neotro, a two-person studio based in Yokohama best known for horizontal shmups Vritra: Complete Edition and Vritra Hexa for eXA-Arcadia. It’s coming to Steam on September 28, with a demo available now, and there are plans for a console release early next year, too.