Remember that time when you rented a game from the local game store to spend some time with your sibling one lazy afternoon? It was a shoot’em-up game. You and your little brother had precious happy hours of dodging hailstorms of bullets and blasting enemies. Then you returned the game and completely forgot about it afterwards. This is exactly the type of experience NeuroVoider has in store for you: fun and transient.
Dubbed as a “futuristic twin-sticks shooter RPG," NeuroVoider, developed by Flying Oak Games, has its own share of addictive and explosive gameplay. You start the game as a squiggly brain, unlike the typical hero or the last hope to save humanity from the robotic apocalypse. After a very short tutorial with minimal story-telling, you are given 3 traditional RPG classes to play: a nimble yet fragile class called Dash, an offensive class called Rampage and a classic tank-like defensive class called Fortress.
Each class has its own unique ability. The Dash class has the ability to... dash , which grants a few invulnerability frames to quickly dodge through incoming bullets without taking damage. Similarly, the Rampage class can temporarily go into rampage mode, increasing both damage output and mobility. The Fortress class can set up an energy barrier that reflects minor bullets and reduces damage taken. You can freely swap between all three classes later in-game during intermission as long as you have the right robotic parts.
Next, you get to select a secondary skill (called BIOS) for your robotic charge. There is a plethora of both active and passive skills to indulge yourself in. You can strategically select a skill that could benefit their class-build to add some flavor in gameplay. For example, giving a Self-Heal or Group Heal skill to your Fortress class can effectively make it ‘the Paladin’ for your group. Once you are happy with your set up, you are ready to blast away wave after wave of murderous robots and save humanity.
NeuroVoider has roguelike RPG elements which emphasis a lot on randomness, meaning there are 20 procedurally generated random stages to conquer in each game cycle. Boss battles occur at every fifth stages, and clearing the final boss makes the game repeat with a harder difficulty. Once you meet your demise, you lose all progress and have to restart the entire game from square one. Nothing carries over. In essence, it is similar to Greater Rift diving from Diablo III in Hardcore Mode (with Permanent Death). The goal of the game is nothing but a simple challenge of testing how far you can go.
The core gameplay is rather simple but addictive and action-packed. Your goal is to wade through waves of incoming enemies in a top-down 2D perspective to find the reactors and destroy them. Once you have destroyed all the reactors, you can teleport to the next stage. During late game, the enemy waves and bullet-dodging get as intense as those old-school shoot’em-up arcade games. With permanent death waiting for you at the end of the game over screen, the game can definitely get you on edge.
The centerpiece of the game is getting the procedurally generated weapons as random loots from the smoldering remains of the enemies. Anything from a boring machine gun to a nuke that explodes into smaller nukes could drop as loot. Each player can equip two weapons, which can be swapped, upgraded or dismantled freely during intermissions. It is simply fun to experiment with newly dropped shiny weapons.
However, being a rogue-like game, the Random Number Generator (RNG) can be extremely cruel. It makes matters worse when the weapons are largely imbalanced. Depending on luck, you could end up with weapons as useful as a slingshot in a gun fight. Some weapons look extremely powerful on the status screen but consume large amounts of Energy Points (EP) and can overheat after only two shots. Once the gun is overheated, it is disabled for several seconds before you can shoot again. Getting swarmed by smaller enemies with sniper rail-guns (high accuracy, high damage) will be the end of you in this situation. The discrepancy between weapons become even more apparent once you get your hands on Nuke-type weapons: an extremely powerful type of weapon with wide area of explosion. ‘The Demonic Twin Lasers of Utter Destruction’ may look and sound cool with spectacular particle effects, but it cannot hold a candle to ‘The Lamest Nuke of Introvert Gentleness’ (Yes, these are the actual names). The A.I Gandhi from Civilization V will be happy to hear that Nuke is the answer to all problems in this game.
Precise aiming becomes a thing of the past once you get a nuke. Just throw a nuke at the general direction of your enemies and it will annihilate everything on that side of screen in one hit, sometimes even the most dangerous red-colored elites. You could even try to shoot the nuke and kill enemies off-screen. Be mindful that the reverse can also happen when the RNG decides to put you in a room with Nuke-wielding elites.
Furthermore, NeuroVoider relentlessly forces players to upgrade their weapons/armors. Even a fully upgraded weapon becomes quickly outdated after a few stages, forcing players to swap their old weapons with newly acquired ones. It is a heart-wrenching moment to finally dismantle your old favorite nuke and replace it with a new shiny machine gun. More often than not, your untimely demise comes from being stuck in a stage with practically useless weapons against unfairly strong enemies after gear upgrades. Good luck trying to defeat nuke-wielding elites and sniper rail-gun mobs with your new but useless machine gun.
I enjoyed playing NeuroVoider, but it resembled the guilty pleasure of having fun with something so simple and mindless. The game has tons of options to customize your robot and it was fun to experiment various types of weapons, classes and skills in the early stages. However, the inequity of usefulness in weapon types forced me to hog only the strongest type of weapon available in later stages. It became a routine to hope for a strong and useful weapon to brute-force my way in several stages. The excitement of getting rare and powerful weapons replaced the excitement of actually playing the game. At this point, the game became tedious. Overall, NeuroVoider has both the charm and the silliness of generic shoot'em up games from the 8-bit era. It is, without a doubt, a great game to spend some time mindlessly playing couch co-op with your friends. Yet, this experience is short-lived and transient. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Lv-99 simple sheep