Which isn't to say that I didn't try. I inflicted a whole lot of violence upon the demon hunter, most of it actually self-inflicted. Within just the short demo, I pulled off limbs, electrocuted him, set him on fire, blew him up, dropped a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton on him, let him be mauled by a demon, ripped his head off (and threw it in a fountain), and just generally tore him apart. But each time I did, he relentlessly persisted in living, re-assembling his limbs either just by rolling over them, or clicking in the L3 stick. You just can't kill this dude.
Before you pass up NeverDead for a lack of challenge, however, know that just because the hero can't die doesn't mean there isn't trouble to be found. Bryce is an immortal demon hunter, and the mission I played had him trying to get inside a museum of natural history with a female companion named Arcadia, having to get past a whole lot of demon puppies to do so.
Basic combat is a combination of ranged and melee, switching between two pistols or a blade with the Y button. Each pistol can be fired separately using either bumper button, and it's possible to just blow away the demon puppies with your standard weapons as they rush towards you. But Bryce's immortality comes with benefits, apparently -- with the trigger buttons, you can rip either your left or right arm off and then throw it at your attackers.
This turns out to have two results: One, the puppies will start going after your arm instead of you, granting you a momentary refrain from their assault. Second, you can hit the trigger again to detonate your arm, blowing up any demons dumb enough to hang around it. You can regenerate arms, or any other limbs you lose, just by hitting the R3 stick at any time.
If that sounds like a lot to do during combat, you're right, but there's still more. Bryce can electrocute himself, which not only adds an electric element to his attacks, but also gives him a "charge" which he can carry around to any explosives in the level, blowing open new areas or hitting enemies. He can also catch on fire, which will boost his attacks with a fire element, used in both puzzles and general combat.
Some enemies are resistant to gunfire, which means Bryce needs to pull out his ridiculously large sword and get swinging. Just like the limb combat, sword attacking is also very tactile -- you hold R2 or L2 to prep your swing, and then fling the right analog stick around to actually swing the sword. Motion controls, as it were, without a motion controller.
And there's even more! Pressing up on the D-pad lets you rip your head off, which you can then throw up into unreachable areas (at one point, Bryce and Arcadia hit a dead-end, and he's got to place his head on the water jet of a fountain so the water pressure can fire it off into the higher floors of the museum), or just roll around on the ground. You're more vulnerable as just a head (demons called Grandbabies can come and eat you whole, which is as good as death), but you also have an explosive attack that hurts enemies and can jump you out of danger.
NeverDead is full of things to do, most of them crazy. Not only is the controller overloaded with all of Bryce's bodily functions, but once inside the museum, you can break nearly everything and use it to attack your enemies. That T-Rex statue? Drop it on the bad guys (or accidentally drop it on yourself, as I did). Columns fall down when you attack them, various items in the world explode when you hit them, and there's just generally a bunch of unbridled chaos, all of it exceptionally fun.
After quite a bit of trying, I did finally fail the game. Thanks to the title's wicked sense of humor, Arcadia finds her way into the museum even without Bryce's help ("I tore my head off for no reason?"), and while he can't die, she can. If you don't keep the demons off her, the game does fail, so even without a vulnerable protagonist, there are consequences to losing.
Still, I couldn't wait to jump right back into the craziness. NeverDead is a game packed with fun, and I'm looking forward to playing – and dismembering – more.