Thursday, October 12, 2017

Review: Neon Chrome


There was once a game made by Origin (before EA acquired and ruined them) called Crusader: No Remorse and I absolutely loved the insane action paces that it would put you through. Facing hordes of enemies, you alone were on a mission to survive using your weapons, your tactics, and often your ability to improvise. For me, playing Neon Chrome is like a window back to those same feelings with it’s sometimes completely insane firefights, ample opportunities to use the environment to your advantage, and need for tactics in order to be successful. While the level of challenge can be intimidating at first your ability to improve your stats and unlock new abilities and weapons as you progress will ensure that the more time you put in the better you’ll be able to do.


In the spirit of its roguelike nature every time you make your way into Neon Chrome to attempt to take down the Overseer you’ll be given a choice between three classes with varying advantages. Over the course of each run you’ll also be able to choose between weapons you’ll find, potentially change out your grenades, and choose among a variety of abilities. All of these will help you cater the game as much as possible to your style and to compensate for your weaknesses. Initially these abilities will mostly involve adding health or to your ammo capacity but as you have more success you’ll begin to unlock some much more powerful and often sinister abilities that will encourage you to experiment with your builds quite a bit more. Weapon and grenade selection isn’t merely about raw power as some have better accuracy, some will have a broad area of effect, and some will even catch your enemies on fire. It is your power of choice, when used effectively, that will make the difference between making it only a few stages in and getting much deeper. Best of all, if you find it to be a bit overwhelming and have friends available they can join in for the fun as well!

Moving through the floors that take you to the top to face your final battle the game is segmented with a few levels at a time before you’ll face off against a challenging boss. These battles will test your skills, your load out, and your tenacity as the first time you’ll generally face them, without having had the opportunity to bolster your stats, you’re likely to feel a bit out of your league. That said, if you’re able to keep your head and are quick these fights are possible to win, you just may not be able to recover well enough from the fight to last much longer. Opportunities to heal do show up, but they’re rarely going to do more then renew a portion of your health. It is a game that’s meant to challenge and not coddle you, and in order to get further into the game you’re likely going to have to die quite a bit. The longer you’re able to survive the more money you’ll be able to accumulate and the more stations you’re likely to encounter that will permanently unlock new abilities and weaponry. Even when you die you’re still then always making progress.


Between runs you’ll have the opportunity to invest that money in improving your core stats or opening up additional slots for skills. I’d tend to recommend the slots since as time goes on and you have the more powerful options available to you they can be game-changers. In addition you’ll have the option to spend some money in order to guarantee which gun, grenades, and skill you’ll start your run with. This can be a wise investment, particularly where the grenades and abilities are concerned, since having to deal with ones that don’t suit you will tend to put you at risk. The gun can be tempting but realize that you’ll likely be wooed regularly with more powerful weapons and at some point, even if it is a less ideal choice for you, you’ll likely switch things up. The point is, no matter how much you may struggle on a given run, the further you go you’ll be able to feed your success into further success.


I’ve actually been enjoying Neon Chrome for quite some time on the PC and am thrilled that it has finally made its way to the Switch, even moreso that it has come over quite flawlessly. Beating the Overseer is no easy feat but what I love the most about the game is that it continues to scale itself up even past that initial victory and you’ll be able to continue to test your skills and your load outs against consistently formidable resistance. In some ways it is when all of the skill options are finally available to you that the game most comes to life, throwing exciting challenges at you and demanding that you give it your full attention to persevere. While I’ve played many roguelike shooters and enjoy them all I hold Neon Chrome up as one of my absolute favorites for multiple reasons.

Score: 9

Pros:
  • Intense and varied shooting action
  • Each run presents new challenges and opportunities
  • Your efforts are never wasted, every time you die there are chances to improve your odds on subsequent runs
  • Even more chaotic and fun with a friend!

Cons:
  • There’s no getting around the fact that the game was meant to be difficult initially, though in theory as you upgrade yourself the game could become accessible to anyone with time
  • In handheld mode everything is still easily visible but the scale can be less ideal at times

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