You wake up inside a metal cube with vault hatches on each wall. All of them are locked, save for one at your feet which opens to reveal an airlock chamber. Another cube. Another hatch. This has become my life.
Tread carefully in Setapp’s Neverout, a unique puzzler available now in the Gear VR store, because while gravity is on your side, obstacles and traps won’t be.
Like a cube-shape hamster ball, the walls rotate so you can maneuver into place – the ground of course always solid beneath your feet. But early-game traps like rusty blocks aren’t so steadfast as they conk around the room, acting as both as tools to get you to your next hatch, or head-smashing reminders of your own myopic stupidity.
While Neverout is clearly inspired by the Canadian sci-fi cult horror film Cube (1997), where a group of captives find themselves thrust into an series of torturous cube-shaped rooms with multiple hatches, the game presents you with a decidedly linear path – a single exit for each cube, and a single solution to get there. Although there’s no narrative to speak of, the puzzles almost entirely make up for it in complexity.
The knack of the game lies in positioning yourself just right so you can either drop, or walk your way into the next exit hatch. The next cube. The next trap. I’m sure I left my wallet in the last room.
The doom you feel early on in the game is quickly replaced with idle head scratching as you ping blocks around in your imagination before making the next move, forcing you to think spatially and plan ahead as you use fence grates and magnetic floorplates to position the rusty blocks in place. For a death trap it provides a surprisingly fun mental exercise.
The game relies on the headset’s touchpad for forward motion, sending you one block at a time in the direction you look. When your flip the cube a clever animation bridges what could be an unsettling lurch of scenery, successfully keeping the player’s lunch squarely in their stomachs. These are all excellent bypasses of some pretty heinous, sim sickness-inducing phenomenon normal to first-person games, and Setapp deserves some recognition for playing by the rules.
Not being a big fan of heights though, the drops from airlock to the ground below really started create a pit in my stomach. Standing up mitigated this somewhat, but I’ll never get used to the sensation of falling to my death. Go figure.
Spoiler Alert: Can you get out? I’ve been assured by the developers at there is an end to the game, but you’ll have to see it for yourself. I haven’t personally seen it based on the insane difficulty in some of the later cubes, but there was a moment early on that clues you into just how long the game really is. Really. 20 cubes in and I was tossed back into the starting area with multiple hatches. Flipping the room around to find a new hatch at my feet, I plunged into a new set of puzzles, a new set of woes. This is when my neighbors started pounding on the ceiling to get me to stop cursing.