I’ve had an infatuation with games that incorporate rogue-like elements into their design ever since I picked up Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup nearly a decade ago. I’m so happy to see game developers embracing some of the mechanics from roguelikes and mashing them up with other genres, which is exactly what Neon Chrome is at its heart.
On the surface, it’s a top-down cyberpunk twin-stick shooter with an interesting voiced story that unravels as you progress your way through the levels. Each level is randomly generated and contains lots of goodies for you to find like new guns and enhancements that you can graft onto your character to change the way they play.
There’s a variety of weapons available in the game depending on your playstyle. Shotguns are great for up-close encounters, while auto-assault rifles are deadly accurate at range. SMG’s let you pepper the whole room with an array of bullets and your effectiveness versus human or robot targets depends on whether your gun is shooting lasers or plasma. It all combines to make each room feel unique.
The real highlight of the game are the boss battles that come every fifth level you reach. They’re challenging and can quickly put an end to any character if you’re not careful, but I never felt like I died cheaply to a bosses’ attacks. Once you defeat a boss, the game reduces the number of floors you have to start from to three instead of five if you start from the beginning.
The real joy for me became exploring the levels to see which guns I could unlock and how it would change my character for that run. Before you begin the game you’ll get to choose between three assets, each with different guns and abilities that you can then tailor on your specific run. You’ll lose that character when you die, but the money you find is kept and can be spent on upgrades and guns for later characters. That way you don’t feel like you’ve lost everything when you die.
The folks at 10tons contracted Jonathan Greer to create the soundtrack for Neon Chrome and he’s done a good job of mixing the cyberpunk feel of the game with an 80s electronica vibe in the music for the game. The main theme is one of my favorites as it’s just upbeat enough to get your head bopping along as you sweep through levels to murder unsuspecting guards.
Feel free to have a listen to the album below, which contains the full 11 track soundtrack for Neon Chrome. There’s a good combination of fast-paced pumped up music for those moments when you’re having a close call and suspense-building electronica jams that keep you on your toes as you progress through the levels.
In short, with some games I get annoyed and turn off the sound partway through finishing the game. I didn’t do this with Neon Chrome.
Neon Chrome by Jonathan Geer
At $14.99 I think Neon Chrome is worth it for people who enjoy twin-stick shooters. There are enough guns to unlock that doing subsequent runs through the Neon Chrome corporation always feels different when you pick a different asset, but the ability to build on your damage and gun collection with money prevents it from feeling like a needless time waster.
There are some light story elements that are completely voiced as you progress through the game, but to be honest, the story is pretty generic and the gameplay loop of finding new loot and guns as I progressed was the most satisfying part of this game. If you’re looking for a game with a heavy story, you’ll be disappointed with Neon Chrome.
Neon Chrome lends itself well to the Nintendo Switch form factor too, since the levels aren’t too huge and can generally be completed in 10 minutes or less. That lets you get in a level or two during your commute or while you’re waiting for a friend. It’s perfectly suited to playing on the go so we definitely recommend the Switch version if you’re considering multiple platforms.
Nintendo eShop Card – $20