The Neverhood


Dreamworks Interactive

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Dreamworks has recently made possible the release of three new games into the game market. One of these three is The Neverhood. This is a brain-busting adventure game with over sixty puzzles, many rooms to explore and hidden trap doors in the classic "Zork" genre. However, any further resemblance to anything made before this simply does not exist. Exclusive use of clay animation gives The Neverhood a visual look that is unique. The game features dozens of photo-realistic environments, a load of hilarious animated characters created with over 50,000 frames of stop-action animation, and an engaging, quirky story line.

Originally from the mind of Douglas TenNapel and from seventeen pieces of art that depicted a whimsical clay town, the idea was taken, seven years later, to Stephen Spielberg and pitched as "The Neverhood, An All-Clay Video Game". With Spielberg's blessing and backing, TenNapel's team, now calling themselves the neverhood, began working on the project with story-boards and rough artwork. From there, enormous sets were created and covered in about three tons of clay. The clay was also molded into smaller puppets representing all the zany characters that populate The Neverhood. Then began the painstaking work of animating and shooting the clay puppets, posing the clay models and repositioning the cameras for the thousands of still shots that make up the animation sequences. This done, all the work was computerized and fine tuned. By 1996 a test game was created which proved that the idea was viable. Work continued until the final product was finally ready for release. The result is one of the most amazing games to come around in a long time. Looks like all that hard work has paid off.

In the game, your job is to help Klaymen find out who he is and what he needs to do. You'll have to help Klaymen dodge savage beasts, and use exotic machines and mysterious artifacts. An extensive history, you'll find it, don't worry, outlines that the king of the land was betrayed by his evil assistant. It is now up to you to help make things right. Right from the start you're solving puzzles. Using your clay pointer, yes everything is made of clay, wake up Klaymen and you're off to adventure. Press the button and pop open the window. Take a look outside. Turn around and try to leave. No luck? Try pulling the lever. Ahh! OK, bash the door down then leave. Guess there's more than one way to open a door. Moving from room to room, you will face solving increasingly difficult puzzles. Be sure to explore EVERYTHING. You may end up walking past the very solution you're looking for, so be careful. Don't worry about dying anywhere in the game. Klaymen is made of clay, after all. There's just one place where Klaymen can die and it's very clearly posted. Be ready to laugh, smile and be amazed at what you see. When you come across a jack-in-the-box, the scenes that follow are a hilarious romp into slapstick comedy. Worth seeing again just for the chuckles. Ultimately this is a game that must be played to be truly appreciated.

Only limited instructions come with this game. The manual that comes with the game only states that you are to use your mouse to move Klaymen or to have him pick up and/or use objects. The manual also explains that the space bar is used to skip through areas that you've already been through. The only other key is the ESC key that brings up your options menu. They do say that if you need a clue, read the letters from Willie Trombone. With this cryptic message, the rest is up to you. This minimalist approach means that there is nothing to detract from your exploration of the Neverhood. No extra key-sequences, maps scores or inventory items to keep track of in this game. The player is totally immersed in the action with nothing to distract or detract from the game. If an item is needed to solve a puzzle, and Klaymen happens to have it, he'll automatically use it. All you need to do is concentrate on what's happening. A refreshing approach to the game-playing genre, I would think.

Your options menu includes: new, load and save game, resume playing, credits, about, delete game, and music on/off. All of which is fairly obvious. I would recommend viewing the movie contained in the about option. This might give you a better idea of just what you're doing with Klaymen and what the creators had in mind when they created him.

The installation of The Neverhood is very easily done. All you have to do is to insert the CD-ROM into your drive, and the rest is taken care of. The installed files will take up about 6MB of hard-disk space, which does not include the installation of DirectX 3.0. The game is played from the CD, minimizing the space used on the hard drive. The dedicated website for this game did mention a slight glitch that is from using the DirectX. You'll probably need to update your display driver. The glitch can usually be remedied by reducing the acceleration value for your driver in its setup. Full instructions can be viewed at their site, listed below.

The Neverhood is probably the most visually pleasing game I have ever played. The 3D surround action is seamless and the animation flows effortlessly. High praise needs to be heaped on those whose hard work made this possible. One has to consider that each movement of Klaymen and of all the other characters represents thousands of still photographs integrated into the seamless whole. The music chosen for this game is mostly Dixieland Jazz/Blues, and changes from room to room. The music only adds to the total effect. It is never boring or annoying.


The Neverhood is one of those rare must-own games. If you don't buy another game, at least buy this one first. You won't regret it. Generally rated for late-teens and up, this is such a visual treat that even children would appreciate certain parts of this game. A little supervision would be recommended for young children as some scenes might be a little scary. Otherwise, the visuals, the music, sound effects and overall story line mark this as a superior product. I can't wait to see what the neverhood has for us next.

Written by Glenn Soucy

System Requirements

Pentium 75Mhz or faster,
Windows 95,
Min 8 MB RAM (16 Mb recommended),
Hard disk with 10Mb free space,
SVGA Video Graphic Card with 1 MB RAM,
Quadruple speed CD-ROM drive or faster,
8-bit sound card & speakers (16-bit recommended),
Microsoft Mouse or 100% compatible.



Developers & Publishers

In North America:

Dreamworks Interactive.

Technical Support:206-635-7134 Monday through Friday 8:00am to 6:00pm Saturday 9:00am to 3:00pm PST
Hint line: (USA Only)1-900-288-KLAY $0.75 per min

Internet Support: Dreamworks Interactive Technical Support
Web site: Dreamworks Interactive
Dedicated web site:The Neverhood

Outside North America:

Contact your local Microsoft office.

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