Developed By: Veewo Games Published By: Team17 Categories: Platformer, Shooter, Roguelike Release Date: 07.14.20
Crude, grimy, drug fueled, colorful, neon. A game influenced by the 80’s style, right? More like a game fully drenched in the culture and feel of nightclubs. Neon Abyss is an amalgamation of these seedy, underground aspects and put together into a fast, chaotic indie game.
The game starts with you conversing with a man named Hades, drink in hand, some sort of cocktail. Given the choice to drink it to be initiated, you oblige and are quickly thrust into a frenzied mess of monsters, blood, and dance music. Neon Abyss is a roguelike with twist, which I’m sure you’ve heard before, even in words from this reviewer, but I’ve never quite experienced a 2D platformer roguelike hybrid. While I’m also sure you’ve heard twinstick shooter roguelike once before, the shift to a 2D platformer-like perspective instead of top down or isometric does spice up the genres that end up really blending together after a while. There is a certain openness to Neon Abyss when it comes to progression. There’s no real set path outside of going to a boss room for even level on your trip to get to a Manager at the end of the set level. If inclined, you can go straight to the boss fight , only kill enemies when forced to, it’s not something I recommend, but you can do so. If you’re anything like me, you’ll go into every possible room, scourging for every way to upgrade my character. Your guns, eggs becoming pets which act as assistants to you, and equipment that will show up on your character are mainly what you’ll find going deeper and deeper into the Abyss. This brings up a unique aspect to the game.
While you can only ever carry a single gun at a time, any other power up can be near endless and they will all stack as long as you collect more and more. One run had me with a weapon that had it’s bullets explode upon collision, normally this would be a rather risky weapon as those explosions can hurt you, but I found equipment that made it so I’m immune to my own explosions. I bought equipment that made my shots faster the more keys I had, I also bought a power up that made it so keys “would no longer be an issue”, that making my key count to the maximum as well as a powerup giving me a temporary shield whenever an explosion happens. These combined made my character into a near unstoppable monster, but that wasn’t all. After defeating a boss, you’ll always get a powerup to raise your health and general weapon power. Having a gun that had explosive bullets effectively replaced my need for bombs, meaning I could shoot my way into destructible doors, hidden rooms in walls, and stone treasure chests, I’d normally need to throw a bomb at. Being immune to explosions allowed me to rocket jump my way into passages I’d normally need to climb up and use a key to get into, phasing out most of my key use. This goes without saying however that RNG was heavily involved. Roguelikes are all randomly generated and Neon Abyss is no different. I completely lucked out getting the powerups I did, when I did, and that made getting them and beating a Manager made it even more satisfying.
One key mechanic to the game is a “Wisdom” and “Violence” meter. These are related to these purple chests and doors you’ll find throughout levels, both of which requiring gems you’ll find. Spend them to open either and you’ll earn Wisdom. Doing a room with no damage also raises Wisdom. Just shooting everything including the two on the otherhand, will turn them red and thorny, then touching one will take your health and your Violence meter rises. When either of these get to the max, a room will open up off somewhere you’ll need to warp to. With Wisdom, it’ll end up being a free power up usually buffing your skills on a protective level, while with Violence, you’ll need to sacrifice health to get a more dangerous powerup to cause more destruction. Going the Wisdom route will cost gems, which are a finite resource, which can become inconvenient, but is a safer, more thoughtful route. Going the Violence route makes gems useless, you can just take the damage and open the door or chest. If you’re getting hit a lot though, this might not be the best idea, since it can and will make you more of a glass canon. If you don’t even pay attention, you can go the entire run without even acknowledging the meters, thought you will miss out on free upgrades. Even if I know what choice I’ll make in a run, it’s very welcoming to allow players to chose how and what powerups to get this way.
After beating a boss, you’ll be awarded with powerups as mentioned previously, but you’ll also be awarded a golden gem. These permanently stay with you even after death and are used at the bar to unlock paths on how your runs will go. A new set of powerups, with a free trial? Sure, maybe that powerup can help you finally finish a run. Hidden rooms that house minigames such as a piano game can be unlocked this way and placed into a level. Even more characters can be unlocked this way. The main issue with unlocking anything this way is that it can end up being a bit of a grind at times. Unlocking earlier items is usually not a huge issue if you can do a successful run, but unlocking later perks or even characters can seem a bit intimidating. This would be an issue if I didn’t enjoy playing the game, and honestly, none of this is mandatory, so there’s never a forced grind. All of this said, the golden gems make the game incredibly forgiving. You’ll never get them taken away if you die, and if saved up, you can just stack the unlockable power ups.
The looks, the sound, it all has that distinct “Club” or “Urban” feel. The main hub even starts in a nightclub. Scenery has a gross look to it, aided by being plastered with blood from enemies when they explode. Monsters look patched together. Bosses all have distinct designs, some even being fast food parodies. The game has quite a few parodies in it’s designs, including a few that might come off as bad taste of political such as a pet called “Grabber” who shares a likeness to Donald Trump. None of this offends or really even bothers me, but I can imagine it *would* bother people. Outside of hidden, store, or boss rooms, most rooms will all look exactly the same outside of layout, and considering the game uses procedural generating for stages, you will most likely see certain rooms constantly. I like the artstyle they have for characters when choosing them, but the character sprites themselves are rather basic, this immediately becomes a non-issue when you get powerups, as they’ll clutter your sprite and make it into a beautiful disaster. Music, while great at setting the mood and getting the player pumped to wreck things up, is kinda just there. It does it job in an incredible way, but isn’t really anything I’d listen to outside of the game.
Neon Abyss to me feels like a very accessible, beginner friendly rougelike, if you must. It puts the game in a format most players will be incredibly familiar with, as a platformer, it more free flowing and less rigid than a lot of games in the genre. Death never feels like a defeat, but just another hurdle you need to overcome. I was never once frustrated. I like roguelikes as a genre, but I enjoy them so much more when they don’t feel the need to be so strict about being how they were in the old days.
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*Game Review Code supplied for review purposes