Neon Chrome is one game in a stable of top-down twin-stick shooters by developer 10tons. While all of their published games are in the same genre, each has something unique added to it to make it stand out from the crowd. Neon Chrome definitely comes into its own as a rogue-like while adding enough of a hook to keep you coming back for more. This is our Neon Chrome Switch review.
When first starting the game, the player is thrown into a gameplay sequence in which they are in the middle of an attempt to stop the Overseer, the 140-year-old CEO of Neon Corp. and it’s subsidiary, Armocore. The Overseer begins to talk to you through a giant monitor on the wall, telling you that he will find the real you and destroy you, before sending guards and automated defenses out to kill you. When you die, you wake up as a controller, who is within the Neon Chrome building controlling different assets through a mind-link device. This device allows the controller to continually go out and climb the building Die Hard style to reach the top and stop the Overseer.
When starting a game, you have a choice between three different archetypes to pick from. You can be the Techie, the Hacker, or the Cyber Psycho. The Techie has less health but a small shield that can regenerate over time, the Hacker who is quick and has a drone while being able to hack open boxes and doors, while the Cyber Psycho has extra health and enhancement slots as well as increased melee damage. Each of these will start with a random weapon and skill that you have unlocked, with the option to spend some of the money you pick up during your gameplay to pick a specific set to start with on your next playthrough. You can also pick up weapons during the game, and each weapon crate found increases the weapon level of subsequent weapons, meaning that you will at some point want to change your equipment. You can also find enhancements, which work as passive buffs to your character. You start with only 3 slots, or 4 as a Cyber Psycho, but can unlock more as you progress.
Gameplay is what you would expect from a twin-stick shooter. You have unlimited ammo (but limited clip size) and a special ability that you can use and recharge from pickups in the game. Enemies get stronger as you move farther up the tower, meaning you will have to find new weapons to use as you progress. Exploring through each level yields extra loot in the form of more enhancements, extra weapon crates, and more money. Enhancements and crates will help you in your current run, but money is used to increase your stats between playthroughs. You are able to purchase baseline increases to your assets, making future playthroughs easier to handle. However, after you have defeated the first overseer, a stronger one takes his place and increases the difficulty of the climb to the top to compensate.
Neon Chrome rewards run-and-gun gameplay just as much as careful movement and strategy. Sneak attacking enemies gives a damage bonus, meaning if you are able to line up a shot from farther away or melee an enemy without being seen you will deal bonus damage. This can be assisted by using the destructible terrain, in which many of the walls in the game can be shot down so you can move and shoot through them. There are explosive barrels galore, meaning you can also take out full rooms with a few carefully placed shots. The environment can be destroyed by enemies as well, however, which can make the bullet hell bosses become more and more frantic as your cover gets removed during your fights.
The game does have a few shortcomings, but nothing that was ever enough to get in the way of the game after noticing and adapting to it. The bullets are very precise when fired, making playing with a joystick much more difficult than it would be with a mouse. Using a shotgun takes care of this, of course, but that isn’t always an option and forces you to improve your aim quickly or find yourself back in the control room picking out another asset. The accuracy stat on weapons seems to have an RNG element to it as well, as there were times that firing point blank into someone would show the bullet sprite pass right through them, but no damage would be registered.
Neon Chrome’s environmental destruction and bright, cyberpunk colors do a lot to help it stand out from a crowd of dark and dreary rogue-likes. Giving players a sense of progression helps motivate you to play through multiple rounds, and the procedurally generated levels mean you are always doing your best to scout ahead and make a plan for the next room, whether that be taking out a few walls or running in guns blazing.
Note: Our Switch copy of Neon Chrome was provided by PR
OVERALL SCORE: 8/10
- Procedurally generated levels add lots of replayability
- Progress system gives the incentive to keep playing
- 4 player co-op
- Tileset feels repetitive after a while
- Can be difficult to aim
- FPS drops and lag while docked