Neon Chrome released earlier this year for PC and consoles, and now it has made it’s way to iOS. With its quick and precise gameplay, I wasn’t sure it would translate well to touch controls and a small screen, but man was I wrong.
Polished is the first word that comes to mind after several hours of action-packed running and gunning through Neon Chrome’s cyberpunk-inspired world. Every facet of this roguelite shines like a new pair of shoes: the twin-stick combat, the comprehensive progression system, the enemy variety and level layout. And that’s not even all of it.
Neon Chrome throws you into a futuristic world where, predictably, you’ve done something wrong and everybody wants to kill you. While there’s little story to speak of, the few bits and pieces you do receive paint the picture of a dystopian society in which there’s no room for dissenting opinions. And, of course, you’re a dissenter and there’s no shortage of enemies ready and willing to remove you.
Your goal is to pound through the opposition, reach the overseer, and stomp him into the ground by guiding your virtual asset through nearly 30 procedurally generated levels. There are several character classes to choose from, and they feel sufficiently varied and feature their own strengths and weaknesses. The soldier, for example, handles frontal damage like a champ with his riot shield, while the hacker possesses the ability to crack terminals that you’ll run across as you play.
The action ramps up at a nice pace, with more difficult enemies and bosses appearing as you make your way closer to the overseer, and it’s always a blast. Non-linear levels and destructible environments give you the freedom to choose your path, and stealth kills are a thing. There’s even more variety when you factor in multiple types of primary weapons, limited-use special weapons, and cybernetic enhancements that increase ammo capacity, shoot electric spikes at enemies, and more.
You’ll die, but not as much as you would in other roguelites, and that’s my only real complaint about Neon Chrome. Two sources contribute to this: level checkpoints and persistent upgrades. You unlock shortcuts every few levels, so you won’t have to start from level one if you don’t want to. Persistent upgrades to health, damage, and other primary attributes similarly lower the difficulty level. It’s not that Neon Chrome is easy - it’s just more forgiving than many other games in the genre, and that might disappoint some.
Despite the mild difficulty, I still felt that my skill was a major determinant of my longevity. You don’t have access to invincibility frames, so you need to be extra careful to avoid incoming damage, especially as enemy density increases in later levels. Additionally, the boss fights provide a frantic and worthy challenge that’s a noticeable step up in difficulty, and they appear at the perfect frequency. Those encounters were the biggest barriers to my progression, and it felt great to succeed after a few failed attempts.
Although I was originally skeptical of the combination of touch controls and tight, fast-paced gameplay, Neon Chrome’s interface eventually won me over. I can attribute at least a handful of deaths to the control system, but that number tapered off as I became more comfortable. There’s definitely a learning curve, though, so don’t be surprised if your finger input doesn’t always match the output.
I’m really only scratching the surface here, and there’s a lot more that makes Neon Chrome such a fantastic game that I haven’t mentioned yet. There’s the dark but colour-spiked atmosphere, the extensive collection of unlocks, and the sprinkling of hidden areas to uncover. Oh, and...wait. I’m getting carried away, so I’ll stop right there with a final message for you: if you like twin-stick shooters with roguelike elements, you need to add Neon Chrome to your library right now.
Neon Chrome (Reviewed on iOS)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
Neon Chrome is a polished twin-stick shooter that's a blast to play. If you're a fan of the genre, you need this game. Right now.