Don’t let the name fool you, Neon Chrome isn’t nearly as generic as it sounds. It mixes two popular gaming genres; twin-stick action and rogue-likes, and sets it in a dystopian cyberpunk future.
Neon Chrome is the name of the tower our protagonist lives in. Home to a million people and controlled by a shadowy overseer, Neon Chrome is a jail in everything but name. The player takes control of our nameless hero as they attempt to fight their way up to the top floor and challenge the mighty overseer to a showdown.
Multiplayer: Local 4 Player Co-op
Each floor is a maze of doors, walls and enemies. The idea is to find the exit to the next floor, and not get killed doing so. With some floors, it’s just a case of finding the exit as soon as possible, while others require certain objectives to be met, or keys to be found. The game progresses fast, with each level last about anywhere between 1 and 2 minutes. I know this, as the game times every level. It all gets added to the total run time, along with cash found and enemies killed and the game made sure that I knew if I had beaten any of my previous records in all three categories. It gave me a little push each time I played; thinking that I could beat my best with just a little extra effort. When I finally died, the game gave me a total and sent me back to the start.
But there’s a twist, and it’s one that justifies the rogue-like element of the game. It isn’t the hero’s actual body going from floor to floor; it’s an avatar. Every time the player dies, they are transported back to a control room. There, the player can spend cash earned from the previous play through on a variety of upgrades, like health, energy, luck, and firepower. These stats are a constant, no matter how many times I died. Earn more money to upgrade, upgrade to make me better, get further in each run. It’s the standard rogue-like affair, but one that gives the player real control over what they want to focus on. There are also augments and weapons that can be unlocked to enhance the player’s abilities. Once unlocked, these will appear randomly during each run. There are also set checkpoints after each boss battle, allowing the player to restart their next run a little further up the tower, should they wish.
Aesthetically, Neon Chrome lays on the cyberpunk angle thickly. It kind of reminded me of the art style of dark future comic books of the 80’s; something akin to 2000AD. It’s kind of cool in a retro way, and along with the music gives the game a nice style.
Neon Chrome also offers up to four player local co-op. Playing with friends didn’t seem to ramp up the difficulty, but did make it easier to tackle certain enemies that require a little teamwork. It works well as a couch co-op game and I had a lot of fun playing with others.
But not everything is neon rosy. No matter how much fun I had with the game, there was a major issue preventing me from really getting stuck in. It seems like there is a bug that causes the HUD to lay over the game, slightly out of sync. This means that objectives and enemy vision cones are affected, but most importantly, the players red line for aiming. This is a major flaw, and one that I have had to knock the score down for. It’s bad enough when playing alone, but it gets even harder when playing co-op, as it happened with all of the player models. I tried to contact the developer to find out if this was an isolated occurrence, or if it was a known bug; but have yet to receive a response. It may seem like a minor thing, but one that impacted my enjoyment of the game immensely.
Despite having one of the most generic titles I’ve heard in a while, Neon Chrome has a lot going for it – a solid rogue-like, with plenty of upgrade options and exciting action. It’s such a shame that the HUD issue put a dampener on things. As it stands, I would have to recommend waiting on this until a patch it released to address the semi game breaking bug.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.