Neon Chrome review (PS4/Vita)

Neon Chrome combines frantic twin-stick shooter action with gameplay that’s designed to keep you coming back for short bursts of playing, and it works well for the most part. Here’s our review of the PS4 version.

The title Neon Chrome is the name of the building that the game takes place in, but it also refers to the game’s aesthetic – a mix of vibrant colors on top of an otherwise bleak and futuristic background. It’s a striking look – a bit like what could be seen in Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon but shown here from a top-down perspective instead.

The tower that is Neon Chrome is absolutely massive and houses a million people in it – all subject to the oppressive management of someone called the Overseer. Your goal is to ascend the building, floor by floor, before you finally face off with said Overseer and win the game. The problem with it? It’s not possible, at least not without meeting a certain death a number of times.

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Developer 10tons, whose casual Vita games Tennis in the Face and Baseball Riot we previously reviewed, has opted for a roguelike approach in Neon Chrome. Every time you die, you get to spend your accumulated loot on improvements to your base stats (health, luck and damage). You keep these improvements every time you die, so you get stronger and stronger even when you get stuck in the same section time after time – so eventually you’ll beat that section as well.

In addition to these permanent upgrades, you also get to upgrade your current character while playing, adding improvements that include enhanced skill as well as extra dexterity. Your choices might change with each run you make, because you might need different skills for certain levels or bosses depending on the tactics you prefer. You can even choose a different ‘character’ to start with each time, with a choice of three distinct ‘assets’ – as they’re called. In other words, you can go in Rambo-style – or be a bit more discreet and stick to the shadows.

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Every floor of the building is its own level, and layouts are dynamically generated, so there’s very little repetition in that regard. Sure, the gameplay doesn’t fluctuate too much, but with this rogue-like type of game it’s nice to not have to play the same level over and over again. Levels also tend to be fairly short, at under 2 minutes per level for most if not all of them. Puzzles are included here and there, but in most cases they’ll be rather trivial and easy to complete – just enough to break up the action but nothing for the puzzle enthusiast.

Upon release, Neon Chrome for the PS4 had a bit of a nasty bug that caused the game’s graphics to become corrupted. You can fix this by changing the display area settings on your PS4, or wait for the upcoming game update that 10tons told us is on its way.

Ignoring that (temporary) technical hiccup, this is another 10tons game where it’s easy to sink countless hours into it. It’s very different to their last two games, but worth playing for anyone who enjoys twin stick and/or rogue-like shooters.

Score: 7.4/10

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