After Ragnarok, with all the Gods dead, Yggdrasil slowly bleeds dry. In a last-ditch effort, it calls forth the souls of the strongest women from history to undergo the challenge of the Neverinth, an ever-shifting labyrinth that, when conquered, will grant the champion who survives its halls the title of Valkyrie. Here, you enter as one of these women and must face down the hordes of evil lurking within its twisted halls.

Neverinth from CreAct Games (@neverinth) and Another Indie (@AnotherIndieS) is a Soulslike ARPG roguelike featuring stark, gritty architecture contrasted against very anime character designs. Recently released on Steam in Early Access, Neverinth tasks the player with delving into the procedurally generated titular dungeon, utilizing fast paced combat, and a light customization system allowing for refinement of a character based on your playstyle.

Character creation is not something present here, rather, players choose from a handful of women who are unlocked by completing challenges during runs. Each features slight differences that change how you might approach combat: the Aspirant you start with is your standard Dark Souls fare, her dodge is a roll and she’s equipped with sword and shield which come together to provide a balanced way of tackling opponents. There’s also a character who wields a greatsword, another a katana, their dodges being a leap and quickstep respectively. Unlocking these characters also unlocks their weapon class as a spawnable within the dungeon, allowing each character to utilize the differing movesets across equipment while maintaining their base builds and dodge abilities.

Strong art direction creates memorable, foreboding spaces.

As expected of a “Soulslike”, your main manner of stat progression revolves around defeating enemies for a duplicitous experience/currency called “Essence” which can be spent at Statues to raise things such as Health, Defense, Agility, and so on. Each stat increase, however, also grants a random Rune tied to the stat which can provide bonuses ranging from passive health regeneration to increased damage after a dodge. Shops are also found in each run of the dungeon where Essence can be used to purchase extra health items or new equipment, which can also be found strewn about in the various rooms of a dungeon for free.

Sadly, it never plays too much with the bog-standard expectations of the roguelike, following firmly in the footsteps of other Souls/rogue-like hybrid NECROPOLIS. Levels are generated, loot is randomly placed, and there’s a boss to be fought after preparing yourself against myriad grunts populating the level. Hints of other games tangential to the genre eek into the design too, such as being able to start a run with a handful of randomly generated weapons to choose from before taking on the dungeon itself, a la Dead Cells.

Some shops also allow you to engage with risk/reward by selling max health for power-ups.

However, standing out from these others, Neverinth presents impressive production values with its gruesome monsters and halls lovingly rendered. Its combat feels juicy, impactful, with verve to it that many games fall short on providing. Occasionally, it can be intensely reminiscent of time spent within Bloodborne’s proc-gen Chalice Dungeons. As time goes on for its development, Neverinth proves that it’s on the right track. With a striking, solid foundation, the game can really only improve from here. Souls enthusiasts would be remiss to pass this one up, and will find themselves an enthusiastic challenge well worth undertaking.

Neverinth is currently available in Early Access on Steam.

Catherine Brinegar is a trans game developer and filmmaker who explores the surreal and abstract in her work. Beyond her creative endeavors she enjoys losing herself inside other worlds, interactive and not. Finding inspiration in everything, Catherine aims to see all the world has to offer, through the continual conversation of art. You can keep up with her on twitter @cathroon.