Thumbs Out, Guns Out
We at Punk and Lizard love a good shooter so when we heard that 10tons was bringing their cyberpunk twin-stick shooter Neon Chrome to PS4 we declared a Thumb War to decide which one of us would review it. Thanks to my gorilla-sized opposable thumbs I was victorious.
The gist of Neon Chrome is that you have been seen as ‘not fit for purpose’ by an all-seeing Overseer and, as such, been marked for termination. Of course this doesn’t sit well with you, so instead of waiting around for the inevitable you decide to make your way to the top of Neon Chrome tower to take out the Overseer – then after that who knows, maybe have a nice pot of tea.
The game eases you in by starting with a brief tutorial level; here you will learn the basic controls. Movement and aim is handled by the thumb sticks (as is the norm for twin-stick games), your primary weapon is fired with the right bumper, the left bumper deals out the melee attacks while the left trigger unleashes your secondary weapons. Cross is the interact button and is probably the most important button in Neon Chrome as it allows you to loot and hopefully find cash in doing so. After the tutorial you emerge from a pod called the Immersion Chair and the game begins in earnest.
All is not as it seems in Neon Chrome. It turns out the Immersion Chair gives you a neural connection to other inhabitants of the tower, allowing you to control them and have them fight for you. This is great because it means you can make your way up the tower without leaving the comfort of the chair and you don’t need to worry about dying because there is a seemingly unending supply of people in hibernation pods that you can control. Saying that, though, you will die, lots, and here is where the game’s rogue-like elements come into play. Every time you “die” you emerge from the chair and can use any cash that you have collected to permanently upgrade your stats. These stats (health, damage, luck, energy and ability) increase in cost with each upgrade and you can tailor them to your liking. I concentrated on increasing damage and health over the others to ensure my player packed a punch.
Each level of Neon Chrome is randomly generated, with the exception of a few levels like the boss ones, so the game always feels different even though the way you play it will be the same. Your goal on each level is to basically shoot everything that moves and make it to the next floor without dying. Trying to stop you from doing this are a multitude of enemies from robotic spiders to heavily armed combat soldiers.
Neon Chrome’s plot sounds like a 1980’s sci-fi film and that is something that is carried over into the look and feel of the game. You don’t have to play it for long to see how heavily influenced by the 80’s it is. Its overall darkness with the odd hint of neon lighting indicating its futuristic setting is very reminiscent of Bladerunner. Its pulsating electro soundtrack pretty much epitomizes a 1980’s vision of how a bleak dystopian future should sound.
Neon Chrome really doesn’t do itself any favours in the beginning. Continually failing to get any further than the first few levels makes for an uneasy introduction to the game, but don’t let this constant dying put you off. Instead use it to hone your technique, learn which walls can withstand a barrage of bullets the longest and most importantly collect all the cash you can so you can upgrade your abilities. The journey to your showdown with the Overseer is a long and enjoyable one that will leave a path of total destruction in your wake.
NelMaNo Rating 7/10