Aerial Knights Never Yield is the epitome of cool. From the outset, you’re thrown into a seemingly neverending runner where you have to escape drones and maniac drivers, through to somersaulting and sliding under obstacles.
It’s not a proper rhythm game as such, but with the fantastic soundtrack by Danime-Sama, the gameplay and beats melt into one big boiling pot where I, and many other non-cool dad-types, can say ‘I have rhythm’.
There’s no spoken dialogue in the game, and to be honest, I wasn’t wholly following it as this is all about the gameplay. A bit like a cooler version of Inside, Aerial Knights Never Yield (aware of the missing punctuation) is a side-scrolling runner where you have three main commands at your disposal and a fourth option to speed things up.
Aerial Knights Never Yield Review – PS4/5
You play Wally, who has legs like tree trunks and lungs like dustbins: not only does he never yield, he never stops running. It’s primarily running left to right, but a few switch-ups go the opposite way and vertically. There are also a couple of boss battles that follow the same design as the main mechanics.
Up is a high jump, left is a side somersault, and down is a slide for going under objects or drones. If you hold right, you can improve your overall ‘lap time’, but at the risk of bailing out as you’re naturally moving faster. The dash does have another function which is to outrun the odd assailant.
If it isn’t blatantly flashing in the top left pictogram of your d-pad, then you’ll see an outline on hazards and which button to press. Red represents the high jump, orange for a somersault and blue for a slide. The best part is you can experiment a tad, and there might be two approaches to an obstacle.
My first experience with Aerial Knights Never Yield was on the normal, default setting. Here you have a few stabilisers to see you through, and one of the standouts of this game is that it’s very likely that everyone will finish this game on this setting. There are so many chances with the colour coding system, but also, in this setting, you’ll get a slow-motion option, giving you a fraction more time to execute your move.
Insane Feels ‘Right’
While the game never feels that easy that you’ll get a clean run every time, this is one of the few titles where the harder modes are more appealing. We completed Aerial Knights Never Yield in one sitting. When I say we, my family. The control system is so straightforward, casual gamers can play, but repeat plays are just so intoxicating, I restarted the game immediately after finishing.
The longevity here is the challenge to set a better time, to not yield and crash into an object – a perfect run. Shifting to the last of 13 levels, I must have got about 13 minutes in on insane mode and had to bail. Least, that was my excuse. Insane mode is doable, but there are more obstacles and no slow-mo. In short, it’s a lot more fun.
When trying to set fast times, you’ll undoubtedly be holding the dash, which is what I would do. Upon crashing into something, I’d still have that muscle memory and end up shifting the selection to ‘yield’ and exiting the stage.
This was infuriating as you could have a decent run but inadvertently exit out. The argument could be less ham-fisted, but when you’re so into the game trying to shed seconds, I think I’d have preferred the option to respawn and continue instantly. Perhaps there would be a menu option to exit. I mean, who yields? Losers.
Tango And Cash
Aside from the 13 levels and replay value for setting better times, there’s not much else to Aerial Knights Never Yield. You can unlock additional outfits, but they’re purely cosmetic, and you don’t have time to be watching Wally anyway. Despite the lack of features, I couldn’t recommend this enough.
What makes this game though, is the soundtrack. Without it, it wouldn’t be the same. The two go so well together that you’d think that this solo dev also made the music, but that’s the Detroit artist Danime-Sama, mentioned earlier.
There’s a fusion with Japanese culture throughout Aerial Knights Never Yield (I’m sure that Goku was an inspiration for some scenes) – neon signs all over the city in kanji and katakana. The tunes feel the same, bordering on Nujabes and Samurai Champloo type vibes, which is a big compliment.
But in short, whether 100 developers or just the one made Headup Games new title, Aerial Knights Never Yield, is such an achievement. My daughter said that it reminded her of Jet Set Radio at first. After giving her a slap for such blasphemy, she had a point. It’s super stylish, has a superb soundtrack and is utterly ‘pick up and play’.
Yes, it’s a runner, and if you strip down the elements, there’s not much to it, but should there be? Mission accomplished. Aerial Knights Never Yield gets a big thumbs up from me and highly encourage you to pick this up on whichever platform is best for you.