The future is going to bleak in many people’s eyes, usually looking like fan art for Blade Runner. Where the main colour schemes revolve around greys and darker greys, rains 24/7 and features corporate corruption lit up on bright neon signs. We’ve seen games before tackle dystopian futures before and usually in the same manner as one another. But there are game which add in fresh twists and dynamics to elevate them above the rest.
Neon Chrome does in have some interesting ideas but is it enough to keep you invested?
While the world of Neon Chrome doesn’t offer much new in the cyberpunk genre, it does keep things simple enough for fans to enjoy. Plenty of rain and neon sights in-between the all-out carnage, as you journey through the complex which houses over a million people. Paying homage to late 80’s/early 90’s retro shooters, Neon Chrome takes players through an infamous labyrinth as they battle levels of opposing forces to the very top.
You play as a lone hacker who takes control of number of hosts, battling their way up to the highest office of Neon Chrome. You various hosts are made up of soldiers, hackers, assassins and more, equipped with deadly skills and high tech weapons. The task is simple, make your way up through Neon Chrome and kill the shadowy figure at the top. Thing is though, if your character dies, then you must start again with a new one. The complex is broken up into 6 tiers, each made up of various levels to fight through. After a set amount of levels you’ll hit a checkpoint which is a safe spot in case you die. Once you hit the checkpoint and when you die, players can control a new host and take an elevator to said checkpoint. Meaning you don’t need to repeat the entire game but will sent back to repeat the levels on the tire of Neon Chrome.
There’s a boss at the end of each tier and even dying here means you have to complete all the previous levels, from the checkpoint again. An interesting concept and one that reminisces vibes of the Dark Soul games. It’s an interesting structure towards character development as you’ll lose all upgrades and weapon stats for your current character but you can unlock perks, abilities and weapons from the checkpoint and carry on. While you can carry on with ease, it’s usually better to focus on one character and upgrade them to godly levels, in order to beat the later bosses.
The world of Neon Chrome is procedural generated, meaning that you’ll hardly come across the same level twice. Elements are broken up and mixed together to form new levels, which is great for a game that relies on repetition. While there are some captivating elements for the core gameplay, there are a few issues which hold back Neon Chrome from being truly special.
In terms of aesthetics Neon Chrome is pretty underwhelming. It’s a visually dull world filled with grey tones and overly plain neon lit areas with lack of depth, detail and dynamic lighting. Games like Ruiner have more visually striking environments despite a limited amount of styles and terrains. Neon Chrome could’ve pushed to create areas which have unique features, areas that can be identified and differ from the last one you visited. But throughout the campaign, areas look near identical to one another with small features being used to drive some unique characteristics. But sadly it’s not enough to break up the repetition.
Besides the environments, enemies are also uninspired rehashing the same spider bots and corporation super soldiers we’ve seen so many times before. Weapons are generic and there’s a lack of abilities which really stand out.
Neon Chrome also suffers from some gruelling difficulty spikes which are interlinked with the design. Progression can be slow and if you’re at the later stages of the game and don’t have a decent character, chances are you’re not making it to the end in one piece. It doesn’t help that Neon Chrome has moments of artificial difficulty shoved in your face, with rocket equipped enemies who have the most perfect aim, lack of health packs and small enclosed areas where escaping groups of enemies is near impossible. Relentless is what Neon Chrome can be.
The core mechanics are decent and I do like how the environments are highly destructible. While not highly detailed, it’s a nice touch to the other dull aesthetics. Plus there is couch co-op which will be a pleasant surprise to older gamers such as me. But the lack of imagination in pretty much everything from environments to enemies designs with the crippling difficulty spikes are major low points for Neon Chrome.
Still there is a decent shooter here and one that’s fairly innovative and entertaining but don’t expect it to the break the mould, in terms of presentation or presenting a fair challenge.