What is Nefarious?
I had seen trailers floating around for a while now on a little game called Nefarious. It seemed fun, a modern platformer with a twist that would shake up the status quo. That twist? In Nefarious you take control of Crow, a descendant of a long line of villains. As Crow, you’ll have to infiltrate the castles or homelands of five different princesses, kidnap them, escape their guards, then face off against that world’s hero in a climatic boss battle in which you are the boss.
Nefarious plays (most of the time) like your standard platformer. You’ll guide Crow through various stages avoiding obstacles and sticking perilous jumps. Crow is outfitted with a Power Glove allowing him to punch everything, and he punches everything. From making the elevator ascend or descend in his lair, to steering the wheel of his airship, everything can, and should be, punched. The Power Glove is good for more than fisticuffs though as it can be upgraded, changing the way you use it. Grenades, sticky bombs, rockets, and even a machine gun can be added to your arsenal at the outset of a stage, provided you have the moolah to purchase the enhancements.
Crow’s Power Armor is also special. The armor will absorb the shock from a tossed grenade and allow you to use that shock to propel you higher. It’s like a double jump, but requires a bit more finesse to execute, especially when you get different versions of the grenade. One upgrade will eliminate your ability to use the grenade boost entirely. While this move is essential for getting some just out of reach collectibles, the grenade boost wasn’t something that you had to use to beat the game.
When you kidnap the princesses in their stages, most of them will give you a new move or other enhancement while you liberate them from their homes. Infinite grenades, a higher jump, and even changing the way once familiar objects behave mean you’ll have to switch up the way you play to finish out the stages. It keeps the long stages from becoming monotonous and adds a little spice.
Being the Boss
The most unique thing about Nefarious are its boss battles. Reversing your roll and giving you the chance to be the giant robot, flying death machine, or even a JRPG baddie will keep you invested in seeing the challenging stages through to the end.
All the boss battles are like the one above; Clever little nods to classic games. I had a lot of fun with every one of these fights as it finally made me understand how difficult it is for enemies like Robotnik to smash Sonic with a wrecking ball. Except in this game you fight a speedy bee after you infiltrate the hive and kidnap their princess.
Each boss battle presented a unique challenge and really makes you see how hard the bad guys have it when it comes to world domination.
I was surprised to learn that there was an actual story in Nefarious. Admittedly I was just expecting a shallow excuse to plow through stages and wrest princesses away from intrepid heroes. What I got however was a story full of character development, a few twist, and peppered throughout, some moral choices that actually impact the ending.
At one point you’ll have the opportunity to visit a museum of villains and I can’t recommend interacting with all the memorabilia enough. Nefarious’ clever dialog and wit shine throughout the game, the museum however is a highlight.
All the characters in Nefarious have their own agendas and are involved in the conflict of good vs. evil in their own way. I don’t want to spoil it here, but there is definitely more than meets the eye going on in this world, and exploring every nook and cranny of the brilliantly designed levels is worth it to see how it all unfolds.
Nefarious is a very entertaining platformer that will strike chords of nostalgia while not completely relying on it to entertain. Top-notch writing delivers legitimate laugh-out-loud moments and sets the tone for the tongue in cheek adventures of Crow. Clever level designs hide secrets and offer a multitude of ways to get to the end of the stage dependent on your skill. This game seems tailor made for speedrunners.
It took me about five hours to see the credits roll, and each stage took 6 or more minutes to complete. I still need to go back and get a few more collectibles to 100% the game. I will go back too, a testament to how much fun this game can be.
When and Where to get Nefarious
If you geeks want to check out Nefarious—and you really should—it releases January 23rd on Steam for Windows. Visit the game’s Steam Page and download it here. Below are a couple of trailers to help you get an idea of what Nefarious looks and plays like.