Neon Chrome (PlayStation 4) Review

By Nikola Suprak 11.06.2016 1

Review for Neon Chrome on PlayStation 4

10tons Ltd. isn't likely a company many people have on their radar. It isn't that they haven't developed games before, as they've started growing a fairly sizable catalogue of titles on various handheld devices. Still, these aren't exactly the sorts of games that are going to catch on with more hardcore gamers, and they tend to feel more like the kind of time wasters people put on their phone to get through their morning commute. Thus, when they announced a rougelite by the name of Neon Chrome, it was easy to become skeptical. It was hard to imagine a more casual company delving headfirst into the most hardcore of hardcore genres without any major issues, and yet that is what they did here. It might not be a perfect rougelite, but it does enough to warrant consideration.

Things aren't going to well for the people in Neon Chrome. This large, dystopian city is run by a man known as the Overseer, who has a bit of an issue with the hero. He no longer "trusts him," so he takes the only sensible solution to the issue, which is ordering every soldier and machine in his enormous tower to go out and kill him as quickly and bloodily as possible. Things go south pretty quickly when the Overseer accomplishes his goal and has this guy killed almost immediately, which would lead to a pretty unsatisfying ending if the game just ended there. Luckily, our hero has a seemingly endless supply of clones at his disposal, which he can remote control at his leisure to send back into the fray as soon as one falls. It sort of makes one wonder why he is considered the scrappy underdog, since most scrappy underdogs that I know of don't have an army of meat suits they can throw at their enemies without leaving the confines of their chair.

The story never really gets much involved beyond that, probably because the game is too focused on making sure there are enough bullets and bad guys to paint this entire tower red with a nice new coat of blood. Neon Chrome is a top-down rougelite that is all about frantic shooting action and murdering the player as often and mercilessly as possible. Being a rougelite, death is a near constant companion and the game will require multiple restarts in order to make it to the very top level. Fortunately, this one is a bit more forgiving than some other, similar titles in the genre and there are ways to improve your chances on future runs, and checkpoints make sure the whole thing doesn't need to be started over from the absolute beginning. Four to six standard levels need to be completed, but after beating a boss floor, the option opens up to start all future runs from that point instead. Make it all the way to the very tippy top, and finally, there will be a chance to enact some measure of revenge against the Overseer for all the trouble he's caused.

Screenshot for Neon Chrome on PlayStation 4

How much Neon Chrome will be enjoyed is probably largely dependent on how fond the player is of the rougelike genre, but some things are done to make this more accessible and less frustrating than a standard rougelike experience. The aforementioned checkpoints are a nice touch to keep things from stagnating too much, and it is nice that not every single run needs to be restarted from the bottom. The challenge is still there, as a handful of levels always need to be completed at once before the next checkpoint is hit, but it at least serves as some measure of progress to keep genre novices from becoming too frustrated. Additionally, enemies and certain crates will drop loot, allowing the player to stockpile a small fortune that can be used on permanent upgrades. Health, attack damage, luck, and other stats can all be upgrades after enough cash is collected all the way up to level 100. So, not only is progress given in terms of where the player can start, but also on their base stats as well. It definitely feels like a more fluid experience than most rougelikes offer, because each and every run feels like it is building to its final goal.

Screenshot for Neon Chrome on PlayStation 4

These small tweaks are great additions for newcomers, but at the same time, it does undermine the appeal of the genre a bit. A lot of the fun always came from finding that one run where the perfect amount of skills and luck were combined to finally make it through to the end, all the while stressing out that a single mistake could undo all the work that's been done up to that point. The stakes aren't quite as high here due to the changes that were made, and while dying does happen, it isn't as much of a setback, and the journey up becomes less intense because of it. It has the same general gameplay, but the trip up feels just a little less rewarding because the game holds back a bit when it comes to implementing the difficulty. This is not an intrinsically bad thing, as there are benefits for this very deliberate design choice, but it might appeal a little less to hardcore enthusiasts of the genre because of it.

In addition to the money, there are plenty of other things to grab along the way to keep things interesting. There are numerous different weapons that have varying effects. A shotgun deals significantly more damage, but other weapons provide higher accuracy or rates of fire. As an additional punch, there are plenty of secondary weapons that can be used at the cost of a certain amount of energy. This is a great way to get a quick boost in a difficult situation, but it could have been slightly better implemented. The very first secondary weapon that is provided is a homing missile, and none of the other ones that can be unlocked seem to improve upon this one to a significant extent. It is weird to give out the very best toy first, but even with this complaint, the system still works fairly well. Whirling around, firing off a series of quick shots and then firing off the secondary weapon to clear out the rest of the crowd is all good fun, and the action here is certainly fast-paced and well-executed.

Screenshot for Neon Chrome on PlayStation 4

Perhaps the biggest issue is just how formulaic things feel after a while. While this is a problem inherent to the genre at times, the best games in the category figure out ways to subvert the issue through clever gameplay decisions, but Neon Chrome falls short here. There is some level of randomness to the rooms, weapon drops, and enemies, but there isn't enough to distinguish any of these things from the others. The floors all feel the same, with the same basic floor plan and rooms, and mixing these up hardly changes the action from level to level. The visuals certainly don't help here, as the futuristic theme is ran into the ground after the third level or so, and everything is just going to start blending together. There are a handful of bosses that are fairly enjoyable, but most of the smaller baddies really don't do enough to distinguish themselves. They feel like the generic foes from any number of games, and both the enemies and the guns don't feel unique. There isn't enough variance between runs, not enough fun things to discover, and because of this, there simply isn't the staying power that the best rougelikes have.

Screenshot for Neon Chrome on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Neon Chrome clearly doesn't want to get too deep into true roguelike territory, which winds up being both the game's greatest strength and greatest weakness. The checkpoints, the permanent upgrades, and the simple approach to the genre make this one of the more accessible rougelikes in recent memory. At the same time, this winds up taking out a good chuck of the addictive punch that defines similar, better titles. Too much repetition and too little variability makes this the kind of title that is fine to come back to sporadically, but won't find its way into many people's long-term plans. Still, it is good fun while it lasts, and is worth a couple (dozen) runs through to the Overseer to see what he has in store.

Developer

10tons

Publisher

10tons

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

good review, but I do not like this game

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