Neon Abyss - Cyberpunk themed roguelike title review

Who I am
Alejandra Rangel
@alejandrarangel
Author and references

Neon Abyss is a roguelike title developed by Veewo Games and published by Team17, out today, July 14 2020. In case you don't know the roguelike, these are heavily based on the trial and error and on randomity. In fact, every game is different from the others, always different objects and roads will be found, which consequently increases the longevity of the title out of all proportion. A peculiarity of Neon Abyss is definitely the setting, which in fact puts the player in the shoes of a silent protagonist who will find himself in an environment pseudo-futuristic and cyberpunk; he will agree to drink a strange concoction given to him by a nameless man, and from here the pop-tinged adventure will begin.



The fast-paced gameplay of Neon Abyss

The gameplay of Neon Abyss is hectic right from the start, he has no mercy on the player's "skill level". You are immediately thrown into the action, and after a very short tutorial we are off as if you had played games like this before. Obviously, this makes it difficult for someone who has never touched a roguelike, but at the same time makes all fans of similar works happy. It will be necessary to be good at knowing where to look, intercepting all the bullets and bombs that rain on the user, even if fortunately the system it is never frustrating. In the event that you fail, it will be only for a distraction or lack of skill of the player, who can then try again to overcome their shortcomings.


What happens when the difficulty level is too high for someone? Absolutely nothing. Neon Abyss becomes accessible through the death of the protagonist. In fact, once noted of the game over screen, we will return to the Bar. Here various possibilities are offered, which greatly facilitate the actual experience. In fact, you can enhance skills, increase (or decrease) the level of difficulty, change characters and dance! Yes, you can also take to the track, which is great fun. Unlike other roguelikes, our protagonist can have gods permanent upgrades, which will be chosen by the player through a skill tree. This will not only serve for skills, but also to unlock new characters.


As mentioned previously, Neon Abyss has particularly prominent references in the field of video games. For example, a character named Anna is a SPARKS special agent, don't you remember anything? Obviously it is a clear reference to Jill Valentine, protagonist of Resident Evil 3. Another quote is found in the enhancements, including one that takes the name of "2077", a clear reference to the title of CD Projekt RED: Cyberpunk 2077. In addition to “nerdy” references, there are also innocent digs at really existing things and people. For example, there is the boss "McPanza", whose name and appearance are clearly references to the Mc Donald's fast food chain. But no more chatter, how is the playful sector of this game structured?

As can be guessed from the title, every time you start one of the five levels you will fall into an "abyss". From here, armed with a simple weapon, the goal will be to go to the rescue towards the boss fight, room after room, it will be necessary to make your way towards the destiny of the protagonist. Something that can weird gameplay players is the jump, that it will not be positioned on X (or A), but on L2 (LT). During the first few games, it turns out particularly anti-intuitive and difficult to "remember", but once you get the hang of it it will be simple. A real core of the wording: easy to learn, hard to master.


A thousand contents and unexpected events

One will be visible map in the upper right corner of the screen, and it will always be advisable to take a tour in all the rooms before going to face the boss fight, this is because they could also find useful items for the next level, or weapons. There is also no shortage keys and gems, but what are they for? Keys open locked doors (sometimes more than one will be needed) or trunks. The gems, on the other hand, are also used to open special doors (such as the shop), but above all to carry on the skill tree mentioned above, so be careful not to waste them! There are also gods to move quickly around the map teleports, often they are in front of the boss fights and at the beginning of the level, they are convenient for backtracking.


A little while ago we mentioned the trunks, but they are not the only containers of "prizes", as we also find the barrels in play, necessary to get coins and eggs. The former will serve for buy upgrades and new weapons from the store, and the latter are configured as a random mechanism. In other words, they will hatch randomly and they will guarantee unexpected special prizes… or nothing at all. There are also some special rooms, such as the "Challenge Room" of The Binding of Isaac, where you will have to defeat waves of enemies to be able to get a reward


Just like the title of McMillen ed Enter The Gungeon,Neon Abyss focuses heavily on synergies. In other words, when weapons are found, they will often not need to be replaced, but in various cases synergies - necessary for the creation of a new stronger weapon - will be the ones the user will aim for. These are not the only possibilities available to us, the character will in fact always be accompanied by the Garnet. These will serve for destroy obstacles (in order to reach otherwise inaccessible points), or to inflict damage to enemies. Summing up, the Neon Abyss gameplay is full of things to do, which are all based on the player's ability to obtain better items and weapons, so that they can progress easily, like any self-respecting roguelike wants.

A really well done title

Technically speaking, Neon Abyss is a party. Fluid, never a drop in framerate, never a freeze. Her pixel art graphics are really well done, and makes you want to explore every room to discover as well what's artistic behind it. Why, even if the title is cyberpunk and full of neon lights, there are particular sections that impress with them artistic beauty and for classicism. Although a style already in the hands of many has been used, let's talk about the aforementioned pixel art, it is still easy to distinguish Neon Abyss from other titles. It goes without saying that the artists they did a great job, even on the level of animations.


Its soundtrack reflects the setting of the title one hundred percent, allowing the player to immerse themselves in the futuristic setting which is proposed by the developers of Veewo Games. The same goes for its curated and perfectly theme-oriented sound effects. We therefore ask ourselves, is Neon Abyss worth it? It would be nice to be able to scream yes, but sadly it isn't. In fact, the title has only one major flaw: the question of difficulty. However understandable the choice made in the design stage may be, this could change the mind of who you are approaching a roguelike for the first time. A real backlash in soulslike style, from the series: "Beautiful, but I don't know how to play with it".

So, if you are already well versed in this genre, you can buy this progenitor of roguelikes with your eyes closed, but in the opposite case, we strongly advise you to try the first demo available on Steam, in order to understand if the work is really for you. It is also true that all the works of the same genre have this characteristic: at the beginning they are really difficult, but all the advanced phases are in sharp decline. For that slice of gamers you want just spend an hour playing quietly, without necessarily having to become gods title professionals, Neon Abyss is probably not a viable option.


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