Nevermind deserves credit for doing some very cool and original things. The biggest issue revolves around value, and how thin the content actually is. A lot of VR games have been accused of being little more than tech demos, and admittedly that almost but not quite rings true here as well. However, I can't be completely down on Nevermind, because it delivers a very cool experience that is right in my wheelhouse, and as such I personally got more out of it than others might.
At its core, Nevermind is an adventure / puzzle game with a mystery at the center of its narrative. As a doctor of expertise in the field of neurology, you are asked to treat patients in a new way. This new method consists help patients access repressed memories and help them resolve these deep issues through the use of new technology. The idea is a fantastic mix of science and horror, not unlike some of the very good suspense movies of the last couple decades that often ask questions of what happens when one allows science to take use further than ever before.
Stages change and present myriad obstacles that can damage you on your way to an end game with the patient's mind. Along the journey, you will encounter ten images or moments from the person's life. Half of them actually are relevant to the trauma you are tasked with resolving, establishing the puzzle portion at the end of the stage.
With this premise in mind, Nevermind does a great job of creating an unpredictable field of play. The way these minds and memories get twisted up and folded upon themselves is actually really cool, and you get a variety of surprises along the way. Some of the challenges are more intuitive than others, but none of them are particularly difficult thanks to a fairly lenient checkpoint system which does drain some of the tension away as there is little in the way of punitive risk. Luckily the audio design and visuals do a great job of ramping up the creepy atmosphere all on their own.
With a VR headset on, the visuals are really pretty trippy. There is no other way to describe it, but I mean that in a good way. Nevermind can be played without the virtual reality visuals, but their impact is muted on the flat screen somewhat. There is one other feature however, that is overwhelmingly awesome about this game. Nevermind makes use of biofeedback that impacts the game. The more stressed you are, the more it shows up in the title. This can be achieved using devices that can monitor heart rate and be connected to the game - I find this to be the most effective method and it works really well because it can be used in conjunction with the Oculus.
The second method is by using a webcam. This doesn't seem to do quite as well - perhaps I am just a bit too stoic in my expression for the webcam to really pick up on changes in my expression and facial movements. This also means you have to play without a VR headset, so there is that additional drawback as well. In fact, I suspect that with the immersive aspects of VR to help ramp things up, the game is probably going to impact the player a lot more than just playing on a flat monitor, creating quite the feedback loop. Still, this is an awesome bit of technology and I've never seen it leveraged in a video game in this fashion. It challenges you to try and stay calm and control your emotions, or else the game will turn on you in more aggressive fashion - almost like how some titles play into an insanity meter. Except instead of relying on arbitrary moments, Nevermind takes it cues from the player. I cannot stress this enough, but that is very cool and it works pretty darned well.
So why the somewhat reserved stance towards this title? The biggest thing is the relative lack of content. Excellent use of VR visuals and sound when coupled with biofeedback creates a unique experience, but unfortunately Nevermind is a somewhat short game that could use even more content. I was excited to play more, but ran out of patients to work with. To the development team's credit, if you look over the game's extensive update history, you can see they probably released a little too early but have been actively patching and updating the title since its release. Everything from adding new controllers to remastering content to adding new patients has taken place and there was an update as recently as a few days ago. I am already willing to give this title a recommendation to suspense fans, especially if you can make use of the VR and / or biofeedback mechanisms, but if the development team continues to add content? This becomes a must-have for the right audience.
Nevermind has just enough content to allow it to skirt the dreaded 'tech demo' moniker that can be applied to so many different virtual reality titles out there. I loved Eternal Darkness when it first came out on the GameCube in part because it was a game that at times felt like it was playing me, not the other way around. That was the feeling I got from Nevermind during my time with it, teeing off on cues from me and altering my gameplay experience because of it. There is plenty of room for growth and polish, but what there is already makes a pretty compelling offering in my book.
PC - Oculus Rift
Provided by Publisher
Article by Nick