Saturday, September 2

Nindie Preview: NeuroVoider

As a fan of both twin-stick shooters and roguelikes NeroVoider is in a sort of sweet spot for me, as it provides a feast of arcade-like shooting mixed with tough choices and challenging enemies. While it is bare bones in areas like story (there is none) the experience is about digging into the action (with up to 3 of your friends), searching for loot (upgrades), deciding what weapon and gear loadouts suit you best, and then trying not to die.

Every game you’ll start out with two pretty substantial and crucial choices. First, you’ll choose the “body” you’ll be starting with, essentially deciding to go light, middle of the road, or heavy. This choice isn’t inconsequential as different gear and attribute potentials come along for the ride, but if you collect gear for different classes as you progress through the game (and don’t immediately sell them) you can actually change your class as you progress if you’d like. The second choice is the tougher one for me, and you’ll need to stick with it, choosing your special ability. The options for this are a bit overwhelming at first, there’s quite a list. Depending on your play style there should be options that will suit you, whether choosing an active skill or even a passive one. Experimentation will likely be the name of the game when you play alone but perhaps the skills that will benefit other players will be where you’ll want to focus if you’re playing with friends.

Once you’re botted up the next choice you’ll make, especially early on, could be the difference between life or death… though generally the more dangerous decisions you make the greater the rewards. What I’m talking about is your choice in what level to go to next. You’ll have a choice of 3 and they’ll each have their own rating for size, elites, and loot. While many times you’ll want to go for the most loot an overly large area could wear your HP down and put you at risk (or get expensive to repair) but an area that is smaller with a lot of elites could just turn into a kill floor. To shake things up there will also, periodically, be special levels available that are generally high risk and high reward to select as an option. Typically I’d say they’re worth the trouble but with it being a roguelike you never will really know. Every few levels you’ll also face a boss and those battles range from challenging to downright unforgiving so to survive you’ll need to be prepared!

That brings us to probably the most critical part of the game and that’s your upgrade screen. Truly, what you find in random drops, what you choose to forge for yourself to try to fill gaps, and how you manage to balance you offensive, defensive, and mobility choices is the difference between success and failure. The tricky thing is there’s no set guide to success, you’ll need to check everything over very carefully, use your comparison screen to help you size things up, and simply get to know what works best for you to make the most of it. When it comes to your defensive equipment it is important not just to consider how much armor or power equipment give you but also their added stats. Sacrificing a few points to get a bonus could really help you out so don’t only look at the base numbers in front of you. The same can certainly be said for mobility, where the choice between something that will keep you aloft versus on the ground can make a tremendous difference in the heat of battle where you may need to be worried about conveyor belts or other things slowing you down if you’re on wheels or legs. The most critical choices, though, will be weaponry.

There is a staggering level of diversity in weapons you’ll find. First, by class, you’ll have a wide array of armament options from straight-up machine guns, to melee blades, to missile launchers. You’ll then have variances in those weapons by spread or rate of fire or range or explosive damage… it’s crazy how many differences I’ve seen. The thing is, it can’t all be about power, you’ll need to keep in mind that the most powerful weapons also carry heavy energy costs and will make you overheat more rapidly. This takes you into the realm of risk/reward again. Can you wipe out the screen with this weapon, making it worth you then needing to pause before firing again, or do you go with steady and sustained damage where you really won’t need to let up? This is the type of decision that will help you or kill you very quickly and it pretty well defines how successful you’ll be. You’ll still need mad evasion and aiming skills, no doubt, but if you give yourself foolish gear you’re simply not going to last.

If you’re looking for something to engage your reflexes with intense action one moment, your mind as you meticulously plan the next, and then start the loop over again, NeuroVoider will likely be right up your alley. The more I’ve played it the more it has surprised me by demonstrating it still has plenty of tricks up its sleeve. Above all it can be a pretty meaty challenge and one where you’ll feel like you’re steamrolling your opposition and then you’ll die because you pushed too hard too fast. Your energy and health are precious resources and you’ll need to keep an eye on them if you want to survive. If you’re up to the challenge, NeroVoider should handily deliver.