Making its way to PC after starting life as a web-based Flash game, Swords & Souls: Neverseen is a simple but enjoyable RPG that is modest in both its demands and accomplishments. It has a little more depth than might be apparent at first blush, but its gameplay loop doesn’t evolve much over the course of the game.
That loop could be described as having three components: training in order to increase various stats and earn upgrades, semi-turn-based combat in the world, and accessing various merchants, mercenaries and quest-givers in the town. Every moment in Swords & Souls: Neverseen will be spent doing one of those things, but the good news is that there are interesting aspects to all of them. Instead of being class-based, players can train in various weapon proficiencies and spend coin upgrading preferred weapon types or magic. There is a wide and satisfying array of melee, ranged and magic weapons from which to choose and of course, different enemy types will be weak to different weapons. This is pretty baseline for the genre, but handled clearly and cleanly.
Combat itself is in 2D and turn-based but without the ability to pause to queue up the next attack type, so the action is fast-moving and reactive more than thoughtful and deliberate. Battles are generally short, too, with a limited number of enemies in any one encounter. That’s not to suggest that combat is easy. Especially early on the fights can turn ugly pretty quick, which means a trip to the training camp is in order. This does mess with the balance, as it’s pretty easy to spend so much time training that one can over-level for the next mission.
Everything about Swords & Souls: Neverseen is true to the aesthetic of simplicity, so the art style is bold, colorful and cartoony, not lacking in character but not incredibly imaginative, either. Combat animations consist of a few fundamental moves and effects and the enemy types are variations on fantasy animals and characters seen many times before. The music is good, there is no voice work and the dialogue is snarky and rooted in a post-modern twist on fantasy. It never goes for big laughs, and settles on a mildly humorous tone throughout. On the down side, it also stays on that one note with little variety in approach.
The hub town is conveniently made up of merchants and other NPCs that as they unlock, move the story and character progression along: training hall, weaponsmith, tavern keeper, a bank, etc. Upgrading the training grounds unlocks new or more advanced training mini-games which, it should be noted, have little to no literal muscle-memory bearing on the turn-based combat.
From its price to its story to its demands on the intellect and reflexes, Swords & Souls: Neverseen is modest. Likewise, it’s modestly successful and moderately fun. Training, upgrading and short and fast-paced battles are great ways to spend a few minutes but in the long haul, the game’s limitations become a little more apparent and concerning. If I knew anything about sports, I might say that a good, solid stand-up base hit is better than swinging for the fences and whiffing it. Swords & Souls: Neverseen makes a good case for itself as a fully-formed PC game.