Guiding a constantly moving entity to its goal is nothing new. That being said, Neonwall definitely provides a fresh take on this formula.
Neonwall has you guide a perpetually moving ball along a wall. You do this by changing its colour. If the ball's colour matches the floor, it speeds up. You also have to allow the ball to move over false floors, advance past blockades, and activate certain features by changing its colour so this mechanic has more than one use. I initially assumed that you have to point the lasers at the ball to change its colour but this is not the case as you merely have to tap the two shoulder buttons to do so. Once you do, the ball's current colour swaps with the one that corresponds to the button that you pressed. Therefore, knowing which colours you have available is crucial for success as you have to change the ball's colour frequently. Aside from colour-shifting, you also need to aim your two lasers at certain obstacles and shoot at them with the two shoulder triggers until they disappear. Overall, the gameplay combines puzzle elements and action in a way that forces you to think quickly and carefully.
For the record, I played Neonwall primarily using PlayStation VR and it looks fantastic. The colourful laser-filled visuals make it appear as if you're stuck inside an '80s vector game and that's one place where I don't mind being. The ability to turn your head and observe each intricate stage is a bonus, too. When it comes to audio, the soundtrack is full of pumping electronic tunes that got my toes tapping. Thankfully, there's no dubstep crap as the music sounds as if it's from the late '90s. In short, it looks and sounds great.
Neonwall's campaign contains 50 stages that come in various styles: puzzle, time trial, and runner. This variety makes the stages constantly feel fresh, especially when you consider all of the elements that slowly get added as you play. For example, you'll eventually be able to drag blocks, jump, use speed pads, change lanes, and rotate to a different plane. The later stages become absolutely insane when you're constantly juggling all of these features in order to reach the goal but once you do, it's satisfying stuff.
That actually brings me to my first issue with Neonwall; it gets brutally difficult. If you know me, you know that I love a challenge but the degree of difficulty here becomes far too frustrating to be fun. Even with the most difficult games, there should be some sort of way for less skilled gamers to make the difficulty more accessible. One aspect that drives me nuts is when you have to time certain things. To illustrate this, you sometimes have to move an obstacle out of the way after jumping off a ramp but being able to do so requires you to tap the button at just the right moment which is a lot sooner than you'd think. It's very irritating. Finally, I wish there were more modes besides the 50 stage campaign because Neonwall is such a unique game so extra modes would have made it even more special.
I enjoyed Neonwall much more than I thought I would. If you have PlayStation VR and you're looking for a unique and challenging game then you could do a lot worse than this delightful offering.
- + Clever gameplay premise that'll test your planning skills and reflexes
- + Looks fantastic in VR / great music
- + Includes 50 varied stages
- - Level of difficulty can get way too frustrating for most gamers
- - Timing certain things is problematic
- - Could use additional modes