Overall - 65%
Near DEADLine's twitch-based action is an acquired taste, but those that can get used to its loose controls can find a short-but-sweet time waster that puts the pressure on.
A cautionary tale on the dangers of crunch, Dumb ****ing Horse and Scarecrow Arts task players with finishing an animation project in just five shorts days in Near DEADLine. With time running short and money on the line, should players get to work?
Near DEADLine Review
Kicking the action off in Near DEADLine is a brief comic-style cutscene that shows how our hero has slacked off with his Nintendo DS instead of working. After getting a text from Bossy Mc. PayMaBills, he must finish up a project from start to finish in just five short days – not a big ask in the slightest.
This is where the player comes in. As this procrastinator gets to work, players make use of two different paddles to literally fight off the Zs coming off his way. Divided between the arrow keys and two other keys of their choosing, the resulting action feels like a defensive game of Pong played with two paddles. The loose nature of the game makes this incredibly difficult – it is far too easy to overshoot where you want to go, and the paddles magically appear at the top from the bottom (and vice versa) if one scrolls too long.
The end result is something of a tall order. Trying to keep track of so much with the tools given to you feels like walking and chewing bubble gum at the same time. One can get acclimated to this system in due time, but some tightened controls would have made the package much more cohesive and user friendly.
This is somewhat remedied by hitting the space button after blocking enough threats – things slow down and the paddles get much larger, helping players navigate whatever life throws at them from there a bit easier. One’s tiredness is reset at the beginning of each day, making things a bit easier overall.
As a result, each playthrough is a tense affair. A successful run of the main Story Mode isn’t the longest – think between five and 10 minutes – but getting to that point will take a lot longer. Rather, this is one game where the deck is intentionally stacked against you, and it is up to the player to gain the skills necessary to overcome this challenge.
Those that do overcome the challenge of its Story Mode will be able to unlock Near DEADLine’s Endless Mode, which is exactly what it sounds like. For those who thought five days was too much, Endless Brings the heat with weeks upon weeks of activity. There are achievements for those that hit the two week and one month milestones, but we were unable to accomplish this goal during our time with the game.
Near DEADLine’s twitch-based action is an acquired taste, but those that can get used to its loose controls can find a short-but-sweet time waster that puts the pressure on.
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