Trust is a two way street and that is the main philosophy behind Neon Chrome
. 10tons, the developer behind Sparkle Unleashed
and Baseball Riot
, brings us a brand new top down shooter. You are an employee for Neon Corp, a company who is keen on trusting their employees in the hope that they'll trust them back. Unfortunately, your trust score is showing up as red, which means that you have been marked for removal from the company. You aren't going down without a fight and your way of fighting back is to climb the floors of the office buildings in order to try and reach the Overseer. It won't be your character climbing these floors, though; you'll be hacking into the system and taking control of assets instead. How does this way of playing make this top down shooter stand out from the rest?
When you enter the game and go into the hub, you start the levels by going into a machine in the middle of the room. This machine allows you to control other people, or "assets" as the game calls them, and get them to do your fighting for you instead. Each asset that you can choose has their own weapons and skills. Some are more suited to running in guns blazing with a shotgun and grenades, where as other assets have skills that keep you hidden from enemies whilst in the dark. This means that whether you prefer playing stealthily or head on, there's an asset to suit you and the game can be played in your own way, to a point at least.
You will have to climb up a total of 30 floors in order to reach the Overseer; these are split between normal levels, special levels and boss levels, offering a fair bit of variety in the levels to keep things interesting. To get to the next floor, you'll have to complete an objective. On a normal level that can be as simple as fighting your way to the exit. Special levels can have small time trials or similar small tasks, whereas the boss levels will have a bigger enemy with a larger health bar and stronger attacks. You'll know what type of level is coming next as you can see the layout every time that you finish a level. This also helps you to keep track of the floor that you are on and how many you have left to go. The levels themselves all look fairly similar, so expect a lot of winding your way through offices full of desks, chairs and boxes of papers. You will find yourself running through areas that start to look increasingly familiar by the floor. Even so, the exact layout of each floor is procedurally generated, so you never know what layout or enemies you might be coming up against this time around.
Grab your gun and get ready to mow down floors full of enemies
Nearly all of the floors will have groups of enemies through which you'll need to fight in order to reach the exit, whether they be human or robot. Some might have to be killed as they hold keys to open doors, whereas others can simply be avoided whilst making a mad dash for the exit. You have the choice of running or standing your ground, but don't be surprised if the enemies take you out more than a few times. Your health is fairly low and it takes very few hits to kill you; death seems to come along a little too easily in this game. The floors are split into random groups, each of which ends with a boss. If your attempt ends in defeat, you will have to start at the beginning of that group of levels as checkpoints are only awarded once the boss has been defeated. This makes things less tedious when running through the floors as you are forced to repeat yourself less, but still have the choice to go all the way through from the start if you so wish.
In order to swing things more in your favour, there's enhancements for you to find and equip during your journey. These can vary from giving you credits to spend on upgrades, to increasing your stats or decreasing enemy stats. There's a whole variety to find and you can have a number of these active at a time, but once your asset dies and you go back to the hub, all of those enhancements are lost and you start afresh with a new asset next time. While this is annoying, especially if you've built up an especially tough character with good enhancements, those enhancements can also be pre-purchased for your next asset in the hub. The same can be done with weapons; for example, if you find yourself a deft hand with a certain SMG then you can pay to make sure that your next asset will have that gun too. This is a good way of letting you pick your weapons and enhancements so that you can play the game your way, but charging you for them means that the game isn't simply handing things over freely.
Prebuy weapons and enhancements to help you on your way
The hub also offers the opportunity to upgrade your general stats for your assets, including health, luck, and damage. These mean that you are able to bulk up your assets every time that you complete levels and earn some credits, so the game will gradually get easier for you as you're able to run through and take more hits whilst dealing more damage. The credits that you'll be spending are found from killing enemies and opening loot boxes that are scattered about the levels. No matter whether you make it through the level or you die, these will still be safe for you to spend when you end up back at the hub. There's also weapon crates and enhancements to pick up on the levels too, so running straight to the exit might not always be the best course of action. Balancing running and avoiding enemies with picking up valuable credits and loot is something with which you'll constantly be struggling and is something that will start to feel more frustrating the longer that you play.
The look and sound of the game are definitely two of its best features. There's a futuristic aspect to both of these, which serve to enhance the game and improve the repetitive gameplay. While the graphics may be fairly simplistic, the purple hue makes the game aesthetically pleasing to play through. The soundtrack that accompanies the game also fits in with the futuristic look and is the perfect assortment of tracks and sounds for the theme. Sadly, these two great features can't distract you from the tedious feeling that you start to get after playing the game for a while. The addition of a couch co-op feature means that having a buddy by your side can make the game a bit more interesting, as well as making things a little bit easier for you along the way.
Be prepared to make a LOT of mess
There's only 12 achievements to earn and some are definitely more of a challenge. You'll need to concentrate on upgrading your stats as well as beating the various bosses against whom you'll come up on your journey. There's also all of the special levels to complete as well as killing a whole bunch of enemies. One of the more difficult achievements will see you complete 20 levels without dying with one asset, something that may prove a challenge to those who will be struggling with the game. Boosting stats and finding the perfect asset to suit your gaming style will no doubt help with this.
While Neon Chrome
is largely fun to play and offers a challenging journey through numerous levels of enemies, after a little time and plenty of deaths its too easy for the game to start to feel tedious. The futuristic sound and appearance is fantasic and definitely one of its most appealing features, but the fact that you'll probably spend a lot of time struggling through the floors and ultimately dying means that the graphics and musical aspect will only keep you entertained for so long. Couch co-op means that there's the opportunity for some fun when playing with a friend, but it's still recommended in short bursts. Fans of the top down shooter will no doubt feel right at home here, but there's nothing in particular to grab gamers who are already averse to the genre.
- Different asset skills and weapons offer different play styles
- Futuristic graphic and sound style is done perfectly
- Procedurally generated layout and objectives add variety
- Die too easily and too often
- Death can provide quite a setback for weapons/enhancements
- Game starts to feel a little tedious after a while
The reviewer spent approximately 5 hours climbing floors and killing enemies to try and reach the Overseer, unlocking 5 of the game's 12 achievements on the way. An Xbox One code for the game was provided for the purpose of this review.