Neon Chrome (Switch eShop) Review
Specialising in mere functionality above all else, Neon Chrome is a bland twin-stick shooter with little in the way of a hook to engage players in its roguelite elements.
Despite not doing anything inherently wrong, Neon Chrome is just okay. The game includes the standard hallmarks of others in the same genre before it; a healthy variety of enemies, plenty of weapons, and the ability to upgrade core statistics in between playthroughs to promote further progress.
Perhaps this is where Neon Chrome struggles. In an attempt to cover the conventions of twin-stick shooters and roguelites, nothing feels particularly exceptional. No facet of the game better exemplifies this than the dull visuals. Set in a Blade Runner-type cyberpunk setting, Neon Chrome showcases little of the namesake neon colour palette in its level and character designs. I would struggle to recall anything about the characters or plot, either, other than the player is a generic hacker who attempts to thwart the overseer’s plan to assert control over everyone.
This loose premise sets the scene for players to blast their way through procedurally-generated levels, with the aim of getting to the top of the Neon Chrome tower. Following a handful of levels, a boss awaits, gatekeeping the way to the next set of levels. Often, these bosses are significantly tougher than the preceding levels. Frustratingly, this feels like an artificial difficulty spike to prevent players from speeding through the game on their first attempt and subverting the basic upgrade system Neon Chrome promotes.
These upgrades are simply permanent stat boosts, such as maximum health, damage dealt, and so on. Unlike the brilliant Rogue Legacy, Neon Chrome‘s upgrades do not tangibly change the game experience from one playthrough to another. Players can randomly find cybernetic enhancements in levels, following which can then be purchased with in-game currency, which add slight modifiers such as increased melee damage, but this does little to alleviate the monotonous game loop. The difference between multiple playthroughs was negligible. Regardless of the weapons used, or the enhancements equipped, I could not shake the dull tedium of grinding my way to the top of the tower
Tedious as it may be, Neon Chrome is slightly better with a friend or three. Supporting up to four-player co-op, the pace of the game picks up somewhat with more players running around on the screen. However, multiplayer does not extend Neon Chrome‘s enjoyment for long, as the lack of satisfying progression and dull presentation remains. Thankfully, the sound design is strong; lasers, explosions, and the various bleeps and bloops punctuate player actions nicely. Although sounding derivative of the many cyberpunk mediums before it, Neon Chrome‘s soundtrack is a more than competent driving synth accompaniment for shooting random bad guys.
Twin-stick shooters are quickly becoming a Nintendo Switch eShop speciality. While Neon Chrome is not at all a bad example of the genre, I can more easily recommend the Australian-developed Mr Shifty for its frenetic action, the character-oozing Neurovoider, or – if its performance holds up – the upcoming Enter the Gungeon port.
Technically difficult to fault, Neon Chrome‘s sins lie in its bland presentation, reflective of its unsatisfying sense of progression and monotonous gameplay.
- Four-player co-op
- Decent sound design
- Dull presentation
- Tedious game progression loop
- Does not stand out from other Switch twin-stick shooters