Strategy, action, and a gorgeous 3D backdrop all promised plenty of entertainment as we cracked open the cards to try out Neoverse over the holiday season. A brand new deck building adventure from the team at Tinogames, Neoverse is a roguelite card game that plunges players into a Slay the Spire action adventure that is ready to save the world across time and space.
Having just arrived on the Xbox Game Pass, this initial outing for Korea’s SK Telecom has been available on PC, via Steam, for some time now and looks certainly looks like it is out to make an impression across desktops and front rooms. While there’s little we can tell you about the premise behind Neoverse, it still manages to make a statement from the off. Looking closer to Nier: Automata than Monster Train, a post apocalyptic introduction quickly plunges players into the action with little hesitation.
Players drawing a deck will quickly find that they’ve signed up to save the world. Clad in a range of costumes, three central characters jump through time and space to take on an army of fully 3D monsters, mobs, and boss challenges ass they cut, blast, and blaze their way to victory. There is plenty of sparkle and an impressive sheen to the whole setup. Graphically, the stylized effects are worlds apart from Hearthstone, with real time spells crashing across the screen and firearms unleashed upon enemies. If you’re more used to the look and feel of a classic real time MMORPG then this might very well make Neoverse a little closer to your traditional comfort zone.
Getting Into Game
While this dazzling set of backgrounds and impressive looking armour might look formidable, Neoverse certainly isn’t going to let you off easy right away. The entire experience urges players to pick from one of three characters and then plunges them straight into a series of rouglite style dungeon runs, made up of a mix of increasingly difficult stages and bookended by boss encounters. Thankfully you’ll have more than a sword and shield to hack your way through a variety of themed runs. Dropping into these one shots arms adventurers with a variety of weapons.
Like any card game, Neoverse opens up a range of base decks to build upon. Each character kicks off with at least three core decks, each of which leans toward a particular playstyle and can be enhanced using in game loot and as each dungeon run progresses. This is further augmented by a variety of temporary single use items, won by downing enemies or purchased in an in game store. Pick Claire’s Preist deck and most of the cards will focus on reflecting damage on your enemies, while most of Naya’s decks deal out a bunch of radioactive debuffs. It’s a pleasant equivalence to picking a class in an RPG and even when deck types modify playstyle slightly, it still appropriate for the presentation of each avatar.
Outside of the more traditional roguelite mechanics, Neoverse also provides plenty of character based progression. Over twenty different skills can be purchased as rewards for success in battle, as well as cashing in trophies for equipable items to provide a huge range of bonuses. These grander, and largely more useful, character progression systems don’t really come into their own until later in the game, which means each new run can be something of a slog to start. Instead of jumping right in with gusto, players can take an easy entry and enjoy the placid pace while they get to grips with combat. Again, like many card based strategy games, Neoverse dishes out a hand. Made up of anything from 3-5 cards depending on your configuration and character, each hand is drawn from your chosen deck and comes with its own stats and bonuses. Playing a card will mostly tend to have a direct effect on you or enemies, all for a pre determined mana cost.
This all sound’s fairly regular, and Neoverse doesn’t deviate from what is a common but well thought out set of design choices, at least until it starts to layer on additional mechanics. Timing is incredibly important in Neoverse. While surrounded by trash mobs of busy taking a range of different debuffs from a boss mob, players can choose to play the most situationally appropriate card, or build up paper combos. Randomly chosen, and tracked in the bottom left of the screen, these combo mechanics come in multiple forms but commonly provide a bunch of damage buffs to slice through opponents. This clever twist allows players to choose between playing out the direct consequences of a single card or choosing a different avenue. It’s a genuinely engaging concept that asks players to think three steps ahead across multiple avenues of attack to understand whether debuffing an enemy armour is worth ignoring a damage over time debuff for.
Neoverse offers plenty of opportunities to balance competing resources in battle, with a straight forward Adventure Mode, a Hunter Mode, and a Challenge Mode available on the title screen. Daily missions, rotating daily card decks, an in game item shop, and plenty of elite paths through each stage provide a decent arrangement of different tweaks to every attack.
While there are plenty of different ways to play, Neoverse somewhat undermines its core battle system with some relatively repetitive roadblocks. The bite sized stages that make up each run do allow players to pick up and put down their stories between boss fights, but clearing through a dungeon can be somewhat mindless. Boss battles, and standard mobs more so, quickly become one hit wonders and mechanics can be overcome without a ton of push back. More than this, it’s just not as charming as something like Dicey Dungeons or Monster Train. The repetitive reuse of the mechanics, a complete lack of any narrative, and a soundscape that feels distinctly mono makes this title feel adequate, but probably better suited as a mobile escapade.
All in, Neoverse is an adequate distraction to pick up and put down but if you want something truly engaging then wait for this one to roll out a few more updates first.