Solo developer, Neil Jones, has come up a cropper with Aerial Knight’s Never Yield, even if it stumbles at times.
Aerial Knight’s Never Yield is a really basic game. So basic, in fact, that you only need one hand to play the entire game from start to finish, and that’s something you can do in just a couple of hours. That’s not a slight against the game, though – the simplicity is brilliant and for me at least, it opened up the possibility of using the PS5’s remote play feature on my phone without getting frustrated with pairing a controller/on-screen buttons; as the game only uses the d-pad, booting the game up for a few minutes via my phone was a very viable option. And, taking just a couple of hours to complete, the shortcomings are easier to overlook as by the time you’re done, you’ll have forgotten all about them.
So what is Aerial Knight? You know, I had a hard time coming up with an explanation for this but I think I’ve settled on something.
As a kid, before we glued our faces to phones during car journeys, I’d sit in the back of the car, gazing out of the window. I’d imagine myself running on top of the trucks on the A55 in North Wales (represent!), jumping and dashing between vehicles, swinging off the light poles, running 80mph alongside traffic. We’d get to the village and I’d see myself leaping across the Victorian-era buildings of Penmaenmawr before kicking the chavs in the face outside of Spar, the convenience store.
Aerial Knight’s Never Yield is this little boy fantasy as an easy to play, difficult to master video game. I like it, too, but it’s not without its flaws.
For one, it’s a bit too simplistic. I get that the idea is you only need to press up to jump, down to slide, forward to dash, and backward to do a smaller jump and that keeps everything simple, but by the halfway mark I longed for just a bit more variety. To be fair, this complaint didn’t rear its head often as I typically played the game in short bursts; each of the game’s 13 levels are just a few minutes long on the default difficulty, so perfect to play for a few minutes between jobs, or while I’m in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil.
Each level is filled with obstacles as the Wally (who looks a lot like the game’s developer, Aerial Knight) runs, jumps, and slides his way to escape the drones and gun-wielding agents. On the default difficulty, it’s not that hard but you’ll still cock it up, much as I did. The game gives visual cues as to what’s coming next. So, a few red lines slashing the right corner of the screen means a big jump is coming next. Purple slashes mean a slide, yellow a small jump, and blue a required dash of speed. Again, simple stuff but smart design. It gave me a clue without slapping me around the head and saying “hey, dummy, do this” which I appreciated. However, it does take some of the challenge away. If you really want a challenge, you need to up the difficulty.
Playing on the highest setting removes the helpful slo-mo and the colour cues, meaning you’ll need the reactions of a Jedi to guide Aerial Knight to a successful escape. I do not have the reactions of a Jedi and I killed Aerial Knight many, many, many times – and that was on the normal difficulty! Sorry, Aerial Knight…
While the level design is generally good with some interesting locales, it does feel a little repetitive, especially towards the latter stages of the game with familiar obstacles being reused again and again. I suppose what I’m saying is that I’d have liked more obstacles to smash Aerial Knight into. Sorry again, Aerial Knight…
Something I have zero complaints about is the game’s soundtrack by Danime-Sama. I love it. There’s a bit of everything, and at one point the music is used as part of the gameplay as you dodge the musical blasts of a guitar-wielding enemy. The smooth jazz in one level reminded me of Streets of Rage 2, while another took me back to a dive bar I wandered into in Las Vegas. It’s brilliantly varied, then, and the soundtrack will be joining me and the family on our long drives this summer, that’s for sure.
Unfortunately, the soundtrack will probably stay with me far longer than the game will. I’ve finished it and I’m not inclined to go back for more; I could play through again on the higher difficulty, but I know my limits and I’m not going to break a DualSense controller proving otherwise.
I’m hopeful that this solo effort is the first of many, though, and if developer Aerial Knight (Neil Jones) does a Never Yield 2, I’ll be there. I’ll yield and rage quit many times, but I’ll still be there.
Aerial Knight's Never Yield PS5, PS4 Review
- Overall - Very Good - 7/107/10
Aerial Knight’s Never Yield is a good game with a great soundtrack and loads of style. It’s short, sweet, but a bit too simple to sustain itself for more than a few short hours unless you crank up the difficulty.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS5. Reviewed using PS5, PS4 Pro.