If you've been gaming for a while then you've probably played at least a few twin stick shooters. Neon Chrome is an ambitious roguelike that puts you in a dark futuristic world but how does it fare in such a crowded genre?
Roguelike twin stick shooters are nothing new. I've already reviewed a bunch including Enter the Gungeon, Nuclear Throne, and Heroes of Loot so Neon Chrome has a lot to live up to. Thankfully, the core gameplay is handled wonderfully with tight controls and hectic action. It plays as you'd expect where one stick runs and the other aims. Besides that, you push the two shoulder triggers to shoot and unleash special moves and you can reload on the fly. The stages themselves consist of shooting enemies, looting, and finding keys in order to unlock doors. It's simple stuff but the randomness of it all keeps you on your toes. Sometimes, you have to explode certain installations while other stages have optional exits that lead to interesting sub-stages where you can earn upgrades and such. Blasting away in the stages is great fun as many walls are destructible and there are enough explosions to make Michael Bay jealous.
Neon Chrome doesn't look that great but certain aspects make the game world all the more enjoyable as you witness blood splatters pile up and bullet casings litter the floor the more you shoot. Where it really comes to life is in the audio department. There's an authentic '80s vibe to it that made me feel like I was in a retro science fiction action film. The sound effects are very satisfying as you hear firearms rapidly go off from every which way and enemies grunting as they take hits. Overall, this is one kick-ass sounding game.
As you play Neon Chrome, you'll unlock many permanent upgrades and find tons of secrets. After acquiring some cash, you can spend it on increasing your base stats such as health, attack power, and luck. Doing so is necessary if you want to have a chance at progressing further in the campaign. Even with checkpoints that you can continue from, this is one brutally difficult game. Therefore, you'll find yourself grinding way longer than you would in most games. Of course, your skills play a big role but realistically, most gamers won't be able to make it very far without grinding. You'll also unlock many weapons and enhancements that you find hidden in various chests and optional stages. The problem is; I still don't fully understand what these do after playing for hours. There should have been a tutorial for all of these items. What's permanent? If it isn't permanent, why would anyone pay for it? Am I equipped with this thing now or did I just unlock it? It takes a long time to learn the answers to these questions when it should be intuitive right off the bat.
Neon Chrome can be played cooperatively with a few local chums. I played mostly with my wife and I must say; playing with someone else makes it a lot more enjoyable. It's not only easier but strategizing how to take out enemy forces adds a layer of immersion that you don't get when playing solo. Unfortunately, you can't play with online players. Now that I mention it, I don't think there are any leaderboards, either. I say "I don't think" because the hub area is so confusing that they could be hiding somewhere, but I doubt it.
If you're up for a satisfying roguelike twin stick shooter then Neon Chrome fits the bill. It may not be the best one you've ever played but it's definitely a worthwhile sci-fi adventure that you'll gladly pick up and play from time to time.
- + Tight twin stick shooting gameplay
- + Loads of secrets and permanent upgrades to unlock in a randomly generated world
- + Playing cooperatively is great fun
- - Convoluted features could use more clarity
- - Requires too much grinding to be able to have a chance at finishing the campaign
- - No online functionality whatsoever