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Video Game / The Neverhood

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The Neverhood is part of the creative issue of Doug TenNapel, creator of such games as Earthworm Jim. It is a claymated puzzle adventure Point-and-Click Game starring Klaymen, who wakes up in a locked room with no knowledge of what he's doing there or where he came from. There are very few other characters, and for most of the game Klaymen is alone, but fairly early on you begin discovering videotapes, apparently some kind of weird fairytale narrated by one Willie Trombone, the same person whose letters keep showing up in your mailbox...

A PlayStation port of The Neverhood was released exclusively in Japan, under the title Klaymen Klaymen: Neverhood no Nazo, where the game became unexpectedly popular. This eventually led to an unofficial Gaiden Game, Klaymen Gun Hockey, made by the the Japanese publishers, River Hill Soft, and not released outside Japan.

The game's developers, also known as The Neverhood Inc, produced two other clay-animated games for the PlayStation before disbanding: Skullmonkeys, a sequel to The Neverhood but in a different genre, and the Fighting Game BoomBots, unconnected to their other games aside from the presence of Klaymen as a Guest Fighter. Years later, the game's Spiritual Successor, Armikrog, was released on September 30, 2015.

Many years later, the original creators came back together to create a sort of reboot (maybe; it seems, in fact, to have very little to do with the original): Return to the Neverhood, a comic and album, both of which can be bought (digitally) here. There is also a short fangame by Denis Galanin aka "mif2000," which was originally intended to be the first episode of a series; it can be downloaded here.

Not to be confused with Everhood.

Willie know that once you know these tropes, then you know what to do! Listen, I tell you...

  • Affectionate Parody: Of the Creation story in The Bible. Given that Doug TenNapel is himself a Christian, the "affectionate" part is easily understandable.
    • There's a tale in the Bible about a man named Joseph who saved his reputation by being able to interpret dreams; one character (Klee) mentioned in the Hall of Records does the same by reading portents in people's bedhead.
    • There’s also a reference to the tactic Joshua/Jesus Nave used to conquer Ai.
    • Let's just say that a great deal of the Hall of Records is a Shout-Out to one Bible story or another.
    ...they turned trembling to one another, saying "What's up with that?"
  • All There in the Manual: More like "All There in the Hall of Records." Sift through the bizarre jokes and surreal stories, and you actually get a few important clues as to what the game's universe is like, where Hoborg came from, where Willie came from, and why Willie's even in the Neverhood in the first place (since Hoborg didn't actually create him).
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Klaymen's hands (one has brown fingers, one doesn't) switch sides every time he turns around, as does the chest button he pushes to open his stomach compartment.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Good ending—reviving Hoborg. Bad ending—taking the crown for yourself.
  • Beautiful Void: It's a long time before you meet any people, and even when you do they're few and far between. It's also a fair amount of time before you're given much idea of what's going on. Also, the game's music consists mainly of eerie ambient stuff in the first-person areas (it's more tuneful in third-person areas and cutscenes) and the sky is a featureless black nothingness, for that extra touch. Hoborg thought so too.
  • Berserk Button: The Clockwork Beast ripping apart Bil's teddy bear makes him very mad.
  • Beta Test Baddie: Klogg. It turns out that he was one of Hoborg's creations, who stole the crown for himself. As Willie's story shows, he looked just like Klaymen did before the crown transformed him.
  • Bigger on the Inside: No exterior view of the Neverhood has anything resembling the continuous straight line that is the Hall of Records.
  • Biblical Motifs: The "Making Of" commentary outright admits that most of the story's plot is based on that of the Biblical fall of mankind.
  • Big "NO!": Klogg gets out one of these right before you revive Hoborg in the good ending.
  • Body Horror: In the credits, there's an illustration of Klaymen proudly opening up his malleable chest to display his guts.
  • Book Ends: The game begins in a big empty room with a door, and a one-way path to a room with ring switches and a flytrap. The final puzzle also uses ring switches and a flytrap, and it's a one-way path to a big empty room with a door.
    • The game begins with Klaymen waking up alone. The game ends with Klaymen waking up surrounded by new friends.
  • Bottomless Pit: There is one. It is clearly marked. Don't leap into it. You'll die. It's the only way to actually die in the game (other than that, you always just barely escape or, if eaten, get spit back out unharmed).
  • Brick Joke: There's a joke in the Hall of Records that doesn't pay off unless you read the whole thing — it's the same story told from two wildly differing perspectives, placed about a dozen "pages" apart.
  • Cain and Abel: Klogg being Klaymen's quintessential evil older brother. Although the evil did come before he even HAD a brother.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Well, call a smeerp a "Weasel," more or less. There's also Willie's pet flytrap, which resembles a giant mouth with four tiny legs. They don't even eat flies, they only eat ring food.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • When you first enter the building with the mouse/memory puzzle, the first thing you're likely to do is to step on the floor-pad, which causes the actual mouse on the floor to be sucked away. Nothing interesting happens after that. Seeing the same mouse under a similar device inside Klogg's castle much later on might clue you into what the thing actually does and how it can be used to your benefit.
    • Nearly EVERYTHING in the game counts as one—often, you'll see a seemingly innocuous button, pattern, or landmark that turns out to be vital to solving another puzzle later in the game. To wit:
      • The triceratops-skeleton fountain near the ballbush turns on a similar fountain near the Pipe House.
      • One of the rings in the Nursery is vital to turning on the radio found later in the game.
      • The potions seen on the empty riverbed wall are needed to brew a drink a few puzzles later.
      • A seemingly-random sequence of glowing symbols near the cannon turns out to be the key to opening a hidden door.
      • The weird glowing symbols on the Hall of Records are one of the cannon codes. Similarly, the extending spikes in the same area are needed to create a ladder in the Pipe House.
  • Chromosome Casting: Every single important character is male. Female characters are mentioned in the Hall of Records, but they (along with most of the male characters mentioned in there) are pretty much irrelevant to the game's story.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land: The entire game, from start to finish, has one of the strangest game worlds this side of Super Mario Bros..
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Seven Crowns forged by Quater, which give life to each of his seven sons.
  • Cover Version: Regarding a large part of the soundtrack from the first game - There is a whole album of metal covers. Listen to it here
  • Creation Myth: The player slowly discovers that the Neverhood was in the process of its own creation myth before getting interrupted by Klogg taking Hoborg's crown. As a result, the world they explore is finished, but it's almost devoid of life.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: You need to blow off Big Robot Bil's head with the cannon in order to progress with the story.
  • Curse Cut Short: Klogg, moments before his defeat. Although given how is defeated, perhaps he was going to say "Son of a gun!"
  • Dance Party Ending: The good ending. "And now it is time... to GOOF OFF!"
  • Deal with the Devil: Klaymen is offered to take Hoborg's crown at the very end of the game, a choice given to him by the sickly-sweet-talking villain who also took that crown for himself... and became horribly disfigured in the process.
  • Defeat by Modesty: In the good ending, Klaymen distracts Klogg by pulling his pantaloons down.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • Throughout the game, Willie will provide you with hints in the Nursery. When he is thrown off the Neverhood by Klogg, you can go back to the Nursery to find Klogg sending you notes instead.
    • If you wait too long to make the Last-Second Ending Choice, Klogg comments on it.
  • Dumb Is Good:
    • Willie isn't all that bright, but he's a pleasant fellow. He even aids the player by giving them the key to Klogg's fortress.
    • Klaymen could be seen as a downplayed example. He's got a demeanor not unlike that of a child's, but he's smart enough to solve the puzzles that lie in the Neverhood.
    • Subverted in the Hall of Records. At least one story describes a smart and honest guy fooling his dumb, lazy and greedy brothers multiple times in a row with the same trick.
    • Also subverted by Hoborg. He's The Good King who seems like he's got more braincells to go around than Willie and Klaymen.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Skullmonkeys are mentioned in the hall of records, and one even appears in the game's animated intro, but it wouldn't be until the sequel where they would feature more heavily.
    • The Ynts, who appear in Skullmonkeys as well, are first mentioned in the Hall of Records.
  • Easter Egg: If you go all the way to the end of the Hall of Records with the lights turned off, Mark Lorenzen's name can be seen faintly near the floor.
  • Enter Solution Here: Several puzzles are done by inputting codes into screens.
  • Everyone Is Related: All four of the game's important characters are related. Hoborg is Klaymen and Klogg's creator-father and Willie is their cousin.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: As a direct result of Klogg's greed for the crown, and Klaymen's greed if the player chooses so, he is cursed with a hideous appearance to match his personality.
  • Evil Overlord: Klogg, of course. He resides in Hoborg's castle, plotting against Klaymen.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
    • Bil's "Jump Out of Hole" button. That's not all it's used for though...
    • Big Robot Bil himself is... a big robot named Bil. Yep.
    • Klaymen is a clay man.
    • The Clockwork Beast is a beast made of Clockwork.
  • Fake King: Subverted by Klogg. He technically is the king of the Neverhood, but only because he stole the crown from ruler Hoborg; since the crown was the source of his life, he froze solid.
  • Feed It a Bomb: Klaymen defeats the first Weasel by making a dummy shaped like himself out of dynamite and feeding it to the beast.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Hoborg's crown. It's introduced as the sole thing Klogg cannot have in his new paradise, but it's all Klogg seems to want. When Klogg takes the crown for himself, it transforms him into an ugly-looking creature, symbolizing how his greed has corrupted him.
  • Foreshadowing: Pulling a lever inside the Hall of Records shows moving glyphs of a giant robot having its head blown off by a cannon, foreshadowing what you must do to Big Robot Bil.
  • Gag Dub: One of the two existing Russian translations, which is basically a huge Take That! to Microsoft Windows 95, love letter to the Tuborg beerBy the way , all that mixed with random references to Russian/Soviet culture and the entire Hall of Records replaced with anecdotes. The general mood of the more emotional parts stays due to the game having very little dialogue, and the game itself is weird enough that most of the changes do not seem that much out of place...
  • Gaiden Game: The Japanese publishers of the game made one, called Klaymen Gun-Hockey. Klogg comes back (again) and challenges everyone to air hockey played with guns.
  • Giant Robot: Robot Bil is big enough that there is a whole room inside his chest cavity which Klaymen, Willie and his controls comfortably fit into. The Clockwork Beast matches him in size.
  • Good Morning, Crono: The game begins with Klaymen asleep, and the player has to click to wake him up.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Not present within The Neverhood, but the Gaiden Game Klaymen Gun-Hockey involves Klaymen playing air hockey with Klogg and the Weasel, who both tried to kill him.
  • Guide Dang It!: You're pretty much guaranteed to run into one sooner or later. Hands up if you figured out the mouse maze by yourself. ...Yeah, didn't think so. You're much more likely to bruteforce the puzzle instead of solving it as (apparently) was intended (by letting the mouse follow its nose). Also, in the same area, you'll encounter an unsolvable "memory" game. It's not a memory game at all. You're supposed to write down symbols and how many times you find them, and then use this on the crane holding Big Robot Bil's teddy bear.
    • About midway through the game, you find a radio sitting in a small room with no door. You figure it must be important, but there are no buttons to press or puzzles in the room to activate it. The trick is to pull on the fifth ring in the Nursery—which you left hours ago. This one seems deliberately planted by the developers: if you're totally stuck, you might go back to the Nursery to check the in-game hint system... and thus be right next to the ring you need to activate.
  • Heroic Mime: Over the course of the game, Klaymen never speaks outside of burps and a Stock Scream. In both endings, he does say actual words.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: This is what happens to Klogg in the good ending. He attempts to stab Hoborg, but he accidentally steps on his remote, causing the cannon he used to shoot Bil and Willie with to fire on him, knocking him out of the castle and into the void below the Neverhood.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted, despite Klaymen's lack of any sort of luggage. He keeps items in a compartment in his chest.
  • I Can Rule Alone: One of possible endings for the game. Klaymen knocks out Klogg after he puts on Hoborg's crown, declares himself the new ruler and the game ends from there.
  • Identity Amnesia: Subverted. You have no memories prior to waking up in the room where you start because you were created there.
  • In-Game Novel: The Hall of Records. Its size, length and general structure is comparable to that of the Bible. Read it here, if you still couldn't make yourself do it in-game.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Played with. Each key has one and only one lock in which it can be used, but they vanish after use.
  • Kick the Dog: The Clockwork Beast has an entire subsystem devoted to detecting and retrieving bears. It uses this for the sole purpose of tearing up Bil's teddy bear in front of him.
  • Large Ham / Evil Is Hammy: Klogg hams it up quite a bit, both during Willie's tapes and the two endings, likely to contrast with the more soft-spoken Hoborg.
  • Last-Second Ending Choice: As you approach Hoborg's throne, you can either make two decisions: Bring Hoborg back or take the crown for yourself. These choices happen at the game's tail end.
  • List Song: One of the radio songs, "Coffee And Just Other Desserts." ...which ends by throwing accordion into the list.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: The Japan-only PlayStation version has a lot more annoying loading times. However, the Hall of Records is way shorter in the PlayStation version.
  • Man-Eating Plant: There are two of them. But they just spit you back out, they only eat ring-food.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: The bad ending: Klogg successfully corrupts Klaymen and declares that he's won, but Klaymen isn't exactly interested in sharing the Neverhood with his big brother...
  • Minimalist Cast: Within the game itself, there are only about five characters who contribute to the plot in a worthwhile way. However, the game's lore discusses several other characters not present in the game, subverting this trope. Also, this is subverted in the game's Good Ending, where Hoborg creates several more creations to act as friends for Klaymen.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: The Neverhood's full of these here and there. For example, do you remember the BOBBY machine? The title is all you need to know to get shrinked.
  • Morality Dial: Big Robot Bil has one inside his body. All it takes for him to switch from evil to good is for Klaymen to pull a lever inside his chest cavity. In the Hall of Records, Hoborg theorizes why the robot has a Morality Dial.
    "Hoborg dared not find out what the "bad" setting did, but he thought it must be a poorly thought-out attempt at dealing with the same problems he had when he was planning the making of beings that were capable of doing right and wrong."
  • Morton's Fork: One that applies to the villain. If Klaymen returns the crown to Hoborg, Klogg loses all the power he previously had and he falls off the Neverhood. If Klaymen puts on the crown himself, then he turns evil as well and immediately kills to become the sole ruler of the Neverhood. Either way, Klogg loses.
  • Multiple Endings: There are three ways The Neverhood Chronicles can end, although one of them is more of a Non Standard Game Over, or rather, it would be one if there were a standard Game Over.
  • Narrative Filigree: The majority of the Hall of Records, which was removed from the PlayStation version. The only part with any real relevance to the story is Hoborg's section, and even then, Willie's videos tell you all you need to know. However, it does explain some of the things from the sequel—mainly, the Skullmonkeys and the Ynts. Everything else, though, is mostly just extraneous world-building.
  • No Fourth Wall: Willie's discs. Not only does he talk directly to Klaymen, he also becomes a literal subject to this trope by giving him the key to Klogg's lair right through the screen.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: The Clockwork Beast and Bil are built in a completely different fashion from everything else in The Neverhood, being made from metal and plastic instead of clay.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: One of Klogg's own letters has undertones of this:
    We are from the same mold.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The Battle of Robot Bil ends with Willie and Bil, your only allies up to that point, falling off the Neverhood. Klaymen has to explore Klogg's castle and the game has little in the way of humor, and the in-game hints from Willie are discontinued and replaced with Klogg sending letters to taunt you.
  • Now Which One Was That Voice?: The credits for both the original game and the Japanese PS1 port do not list who played who. The "Making Of" video clears up the confusion by explicitly stating that the staff provided the voices, but the Japanese voice cast remains uncredited.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Klaymen's reaction when he accidentally summons a Weasel crashing through the wall behind him by playing with a musical toybox he found just seconds ago.
    • During the chase sequence, Klaymen briefly stumbles backward and smiles as he finds a comfortable place to sit. Said comfortable place is actually the Weasel's lap. His eyes bug out as he realizes exactly where he is.
    • In the Bad Ending, Klaymen realizes that he's messed up once he puts on Hoborg's crown and hears Klogg laughing.
  • Ontological Mystery: The game begins with Klaymen waking up in a strange room with no backstory or plot explanations whatsoever. Willie's tapes reveal that Klaymen had been created in the room just a little while ago and he has no backstory.
  • Orphaned Punchline: An orphaned setup, in this case. One of the houses has a TV monitor with a face sticking out of it. The face greets you with, "Hey, Klaymen! Say 'knock-knock!'" The joke goes no further.
  • Overly-Long Gag:
    • The Hall of Records. Emphasis on "hall". Although the records themselves can constitute an Overly-Long Gag at points, especially in the bits that parody The Bible.
    • Eating the fruit on a certain tree will cause Klaymen to burp. Do it multiple times and the burp will last for practically a minute.
  • Overly Long Scream: Klaymen, if you choose to have him fall down the Bottomless Pit drain.
  • Pants-Pulling Prank: Done in the good ending by Klaymen to distract Klogg, so he can take the crown back and give it to Hoborg.
  • Plot Coupons: The game can't be completed without recovering all of the videotapes.
  • Press X to Die: There is precisely one way to die in the game, and there is a sign clearly warning you not to do it.
  • Quest for Identity: You won't be completely sure of who you are or what you're doing until very near the end of the game.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: This is Klogg's color scheme.
  • Regional Bonus: The Japanese version makes Klaymen's walk speed faster, adds a tutorial at the beginning of the game and it has an opening featuring a letter from Klogg. Interestingly enough, the Japanese version actually cuts out most of the Hall of Records, saving the player a long trip at the cost of losing most of the lore in the process.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Just in case you missed the blatant Garden of Eden/Forbidden Fruit thing going on, the included Making Of states right near the beginning that the story is drawing from the Biblical fall of mankind.
  • Robo Cam: Is object a bear?
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • The Bottomless Pit is clearly labeled as such by no less than 3 signposts.
    • Close to the pit with Big Robot Bil, you can hear Willie calling you: "Klaaaaymen, up here!" If you look up, he drops a flowerpot on Klaymen.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Klaymen at one point during the weasel chase, where a female Stock Scream is used.
  • Shattered World: At the beginning of the game, the game world is split into two halves; to access the second half, you must first rejoin it with the first by releasing the chain that's keeping them pulled apart.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Many of the stories found within the Hall of Records are allusions to The Bible, such as the story's creation myth.
    • this track, a reference to "Revolution #9" by The Beatles, if the title wasn't a hint.
  • Shrink Ray: The BOBBY machines shrink you, but mixing a chemical cocktail can make you grow again.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: Averted for the most part, with the majority of puzzles simply running on moon logic but otherwise very clearly blocking your progress, but there are a few. In the area with the lake and the cannon, there's a single room with a puzzle where you have to match symbols on blocks to the engravings on the previous block you picked. Only after you've finished the puzzle is it revealed to you that the finished contraption lets you lower the bridge outside into stairs.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: In theory, the theme to The Neverhood Chronicles has lyrics. In reality, it's a bunch of gibberish in the pattern of Something Something (Character Name). the NEVEEEERHOOD! NEVEEEEERHOOD!
  • Songs in the Key of Lock:
    • The door to the Pipe House can only be opened when the pipes on the bottom match the tones of the pipes on top. The trick is to spit water into them, which changes the notes.
    • One door's locking mechanism is a radio; you have to choose the same song that's playing on a larger receiver playing outside.
  • Spanner in the Works: Klogg would have gotten away with everything had it not been for the single Life Seed Hoborg was holding when he froze in place. Willie stole that Seed and used it to create Klaymen, who in turn defeats Klogg.
  • Speaking Simlish: Pretty much, most of Terry Scott Taylor's tracks for this game consist of nothing much but muppet speak. And sometimes, it's so cleverly disguised that it will be hard to tell whether it contains a Shout-Out or really is gibberish.
  • Stock Sound Effects: The game uses numerous familiar sound effects from the Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Even Klaymen's footsteps (which are heard very frequently throughout the game) are an old Hanna-Barbera effect.
  • Stop Motion: The game is animated entirely in this style.
  • Story Branch Favoritism: There are two endings, a good one and a bad one. The good ending is an involved five minute long cutscene, while the bad "ending" is less than half a minute long and has an extremely abrupt end.
  • Suddenly Speaking: Klaymen has exactly two lines in both endings of the game.
  • Take a Third Option: This is actually the solution to one of the Moon Logic Puzzles. Near the end of the game, you come across a room with five ceiling rings and a flytrap, nigh-identical to the room in the Nursery. There is a door to the right, but it's blocked by spikes and a drawbridge. One of the rings lowers the drawbridge, and one removes the spikes, but there is only one flytrap to hold a ring down and make the choice stick. The solution? Hang from the rightmost ring and fall into the flytrap, which will spit you out to the other side of the door.
  • Take That, Audience!: If you keep sifting through Willie's letters, you can find two letters telling Klaymen (and the audience by extension) that he reads too much.
  • Taken for Granite: Without his crown, Hoborg can't move. Klogg remarks that he's now frozen solid.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Transporters are found in the second half of the game.
  • Themed Cursor: The cursor is your standard arrow— but, like everything else in the game, it's made of clay.
  • Third-Person Person: Willie Trombone, narrating his story.
  • Treasure Chest Cavity: Klaymen can press a button on his torso to open it up. He can store items inside through there.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "The Battle Of Robot Bil" gets a slow and brief one in the Good Ending when Hoborg brings Bil and Willie back.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Klogg killing Willie off, then taunting you about it when you get close, alongside making desperate attempts to lead you away from good by promising you a 'present' if you rule with him. He doesn't get any better after you save Hoborg, outright breaking down and attempting to stab Hoborg after his back is turned.
    Klogg: DIE, YOU OLD FOOL!
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: One of the sheep-like creatures reacts to seeing one of his peers accidentally crushed by the spinning mushroom house by puking on-screen.
  • Walls of Text: Done literally (it's a wall, and there's a lot of text engraved on it) in the Hall of Records. Backstory, humor, worldbuilding and (in particular) enormous amounts of randomness. Reading the Hall is optional; unfortunately, traversing it is not. However, the cheat code *enter* fastforward *enter* allows players to move through the Hall more quickly.
  • We Can Rule Together: At the end of the game, Klogg offers Klaymen Hoborg's crown with the promise that the two can rule together. If you take Klogg up on his offer, Klaymen betrays him the first chance he gets.
  • You No Take Candle: This is how Willie speaks.
    Um... hellooooo! Me Willie! Me Willie Trombone!


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Neverhood


Pop Goes The Weasel

Klayman is chased by a hideous green monster. While the player can't do anything at this point (barring the ending), we watch Klayman acts in many ways that the player normally wouldn't.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / CutsceneBoss

Media sources: