Thursday, 28 April 2016 00:00

Neon Chrome Review

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Creating memorable experiences is a thing all gamers want to achieve.

Most hold nostalgia near to their hearts and relish any opportunity to relive the feeling. Growing up on a game like Doom might have predisposed you to enjoy the FPS genre, subconsciously wanting to emulate the experience you had all those years ago. Personally, the storytelling and stealth mechanics introduced to me through Metal Gear Solid is unparalleled by any title to this date. Neon Chrome, with its method and performance, reminds me that new iterations of established concepts could be stylized differently and carried out in flair.

Cyberpunk theme, RPG elements and "twin-stick" shooting all come together in 10tons Ltd's well-crafted Neon Chrome. With a clear approach that was masterfully executed, the game focuses on attention to detail and addicting RPG progression that encourages you to experiment. Colorful and vibrant surroundings make this title a pleasure to play and to admire from an artistic standpoint. The music suits the futuristic hacker aesthetic as well, fully convincing me that the soundtrack will be worth the download.

In your journey to dethrone The Overseer from his tyrannical corporation, sacrifices have to be made. After each death, you walk through a room full of pods that housed your deceased soldiers, wondering if you'll meet the same fate. You look towards the other side of the room and see your dormant brothers/sisters that might yet be offered as tribute to the hacker's noble cause. How many lives will it take?

This top-down shooter has a lot going on.

You start every life as a hacker in her headquarters, preparing the attack on The Overseer. Here is where you upgrade stats, buy weapons, and obtain abilities for your loadouts. Once preparation is finished, you sit on the "Immersion Chair" and awaken a surrogate to be controlled during battle. You have the option to choose from pre-defined classes, each packaged with a weapon, explosive, and special ability. Classes that can be generated vary in abilities that let you improve your physical combat skills, increase your stealth, or gift you certain gadgets to aid in combat. After a while, I noticed my play style gravitating towards melee-based characters with high HP, equipped with an SMG to spray at anything I can't smack from up close. Stealthy builds enjoy the luxury of completely avoiding enemies to conserve HP or positioning themselves behind targets to land a nice crit bonus. Stats are crucial to the progression of the game; every surrogate you create will only have your base stats, and the way to obtain additional boosts is by finding pods within certain levels that force you to install 1 upgrade from 3 that are presented to you.

Early moments of the game are spent laying down the foundation for story along with a tutorial, but it does very little hand-holding after that. You navigate through a tree of levels, and reach checkpoints after defeating the boss at the end of the set of floors. Each room is procedurally-generated, giving a fairly unique experience to every player. You do begin to see a pattern, as with every procedurally generated game, with the exception of side levels featuring certain themes that are pre-built. Adding to the level design, each boss battle is "hand-crafted" to have their own layouts, strategies, and weaknesses. Some are defeated with brute force and firepower, while others have you using your surroundings and finessing their own weapons against them. These boss levels are as memorable as they are punishing. Nothing stings more than trekking through 5 floors, just to find yourself low on health with no feasible strategy against a certain boss. This might turn some folks off, but I enjoyed the challenge the developers placed on me as a player. Planning your stat build, using conservative and effective strategies, and picking the right equipment in preparation for the upcoming boss will have you behaving completely different with each character that you choose. Taking the knowledge you learn from each death and putting it into practice in randomly generated maps is commonplace. Some games were made for you to autopilot your brain to the endgame; Neon Chrome is the antithesis of that with many factors determining the outcome.


The Verdict

As of this point, I've gathered that the focal point to success is creativity. Countless ways to hurdle over countless levels leads to countless hours of entertainment. You begin every life with a new soldier, complete with first and last name, wondering if this is the run that gets you over the hump. You will inevitably die, learn, and ultimately succeed. One can only imagine what is in store with the local co-op feature; I'm itchin' to invite a buddy over and put a controller in their hands.

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Lazaro Fuster

Lazaro John Fuster is a former Medicare Biller now working in freelance writing, photography, and videography. His love for video games began as soon as he could hold the SNES controller. Playing Mario Kart with his older brother began the addiction, while Metal Gear Solid on the PS1 solidified it. Primarily a console gamer in his youth, he built his own PC with the help of a friend a few years ago and never looked back. Although his favorites are RPGs, he could play just about any genre and appreciate the craftsmanship.