Nefarious – It Feels So Good To Be Bad

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The Nefarious
High production value: stellar art, remarkably good writing and kickass soundtracks
BOSS BATTLES, as the boss!
Easter eggs and references all over the place.
The Bland
Functionality as a game is limited.
Functionality as a game is limited.

Boss battles ooze terrorising pleasure, and we’ve all been made complete wimps out of by villain bosses in games. Nefarious by Josh Hano was made to let you live life on the other side, as a villain with all the killer tech you need, hoping to gradually achieve world destruction by kidnapping princesses and destroying pesky heroes despite their seemingly unending supply of health potions.

You live through the eyes of Crow in a side-scrolling, platform world where princesses seem accepting of their plight because getting kidnapped is routine to them. You have entertaining henchmen, and a penchant for all things tastefully wicked and typically ‘villainous’- not forgetting marvellous music to take you through your life of crime.

Not to mention, you get to live through brilliant references and the most iconic boss battles of all gaming time.

The game uses a clean, 2D SNES-type graphic style, and animation is fluid and seamless. The character script is incredibly witty, and the soundtracks made for all levels are good enough to appreciate without the game.

Even Crow loves them, and you can direct him to collect hidden vinyls on every level that’ll expand the track list on his jukebox at his lair. It is these elements that bring novelty to a game that is ultimately, about games.

There are also numerous minor plot points that constantly breathe life into the platformer: the eccentric princesses that you kidnap allow you access to new powers for the level, and among many other things there’s a villain museum that honours generations of villains in the game. The constantly surprising method of execution adopted veers the game steadily away from what could have possibly been just, tacky role-reversal.

Although the concept of Nefarious is one that’s relatively interesting, the charm of this game lies less in its mechanics but rather in all the elements that go with it.

Though it’s ultimately a combination of the two that creates a gaming experience, it’s arguable that in the case of Nefarious, the quality of creative elements surrounding the execution of the game’s mechanic obscures any lack of engagement that the game’s mechanic execution may offer.

For all of its beauty, the experience that the game leaves you is very reliant on what you look for in a game.

If you’re all for an intense, predictable gaming experience, Nefarious may disappoint you – for one, the game is extremely reliant on physics, which can get especially annoying with a platform game. Jumps may sometimes seem inconsistent or slippery because they’re very specific to your combination of running and jumping controls.

The reliance on physics of this game is particularly visible in a level that clearly pays homage to a boss battle against Dr. Robotnik’s Egg Mobile from Sonic The Hedgehog. The amount of time you spend controlling the movements of the hammer ball against your miniscule enemy may dash every fantasy you’ve had of creating mass destruction with the Egg Mobile. By the end of it, you emerge almost a master of pendulums and equilibrium. Like I mentioned previously, you could find this a pain in the ass, or something that adds realism to your adventures as a villain.

There’s also no real learning curve, and difficulty sometimes hike unexpectedly. Upgrades can be experimented with, but to very limited extents. While this is somewhat of a bummer, they’re all you need to get through the game, and they have different limitations that seem to add to the balance of the game.

If there’s one bummer that’s actually a real bummer that couldn’t possibly add to the realism or challenge of the game, it’s that you can finish the game in a day, and long-term playability is highly dependant on whether you appreciate the art and concept surrounding the game.

If you’re not looking for a typical game mechanic, Nefarious is bound to get the thrill of evil coursing through your veins. The content and concept are most definitely laudable, and the quality of production is arguably higher than most games in the market, presenting what’s a very tasteful parody of the most classic games.

Nefarious is out now on Steam (for Windows, Mac, and Linux) and has now launched a Graphic Novel sequel on Kickstarter today!

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