Neon Chrome
Gameplay 7
Graphics 7
Sound 8

Pick a clone and battle through the many floors of a skyscraper to reach the top and take down the evil Overseer in this top-down roguelike shooter. Players must deal with everything from assault drones and cyborgs to military robots and security guards, but fortunately, there’s plenty of firepower to unlock and cybernetic enhancements that can make the job easier. Neon Chrome features plenty of action, but the procedural levels can begin to look too similar after a while and the boss battles are somewhat uninspiring. Nevertheless, blowing up almost everything in sight while upgrading weapons and picking perks is a lot of fun and the game has plenty of replay value.

Gameplay: Battle through procedural levels while collecting loot and unlocking new weapons and perks.

Graphics: The visuals look good and the game fully embraces its cyberpunk aesthetic, but levels look very similar after a while.

Sound: The synthesizer-heavy soundtrack and combination of gunshots and explosions enhance the experience

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Neon Chrome

Developer: 10tons Ltd | Publisher: 10tons Ltd | Release Date: 2016 | Genre: Action / Twin Stick Shooter / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Wherever there are neon-lit, cyberpunk-themed worlds of the future there are also, unfortunately, oppressive rulers making life difficult for everyone. This is certainly the case in Neon Chrome, a top-down shooter by genre veterans, 10tons. Players are tasked with overthrowing the aforementioned oppressive ruler, who is hiding out on the top floor of a skyscraper packed with all manner of security guards, soldiers, and military bots. The odds of succeeding in a full-on assault against all these henchmen are pretty low, but luckily players don’t have to risk their own necks to do so. Instead, they have an entire room full of human clones that can be controlled remotely at their disposal. This means that while death is undoubtedly a setback, it’s not the end of the journey and the next try is just one freshly thawed-out clone away.

As with all good rogue-likes, Neon Chrome offers players some persistent character development to make their fight up the tower a little more rewarding. Each attempt that ends in the death of a clone will usually result in at least some cash for players to spend on upgrades. These upgrades range from health and luck to damage, which can all be permanently upgraded. Players can also spend cash on outfitting their character with the weapon of their choice, as well as cybernetic enhancements that have been previously unlocked. These enhancements serve as perks and range from improvements to health, speed, and damage to more exotic ones like not triggering mines or being able to go invisible when not moving. In addition, players are given a choice between three different randomized clones before starting each run and these have their own unique combinations of classes, weapons, and abilities. For example, hackers can unlock doors or chests that other classes can’t while soldiers benefit from ammo boosts and so on. Overall, there’s not a massive difference between the classes, but we definitely preferred some over others.

After getting your character set up it is time to get straight to the action and battle through the procedural levels filled with enemies and security measures. Since the entire game is set on the different floors of the skyscraper there’s not a lot of variety in terms of the scenery, but the level layouts can differ drastically. Some levels simply require players to reach the exit while others might have a set number of terminals that have to be destroyed or different keycards that must be found. In total, there are 26 levels to complete with bosses waiting on every fifth floor. Unfortunately, we found the bosses to be rather easy, and even with the limited number of them the game recycles a few of them for later fights.

Players are encouraged to explore the maze-like levels as they are dotted with loot boxes filled with extra cash. Most levels also contain upgrade stations and medic tables that are well worth seeking out. Since health carries over between levels it is vital to try and tackle each one in the best condition possible to avoid a sudden death. The game does have checkpoints after each boss battle, but players lose all the weapon upgrades and cybernetic enhancements their characters had if they die. Thanks to things like laser barriers and rocket launcher-wielding enemies this is something that can happen unexpectedly if players are not careful.

Visually, Neon Chrome fully embraces the cyberpunk aesthetic, although the zoomed-out top-down perspective can make it hard to appreciate all the small details. Almost everything is destructible and once a level is cleared out there are usually very few walls left, let alone furniture or doors. Enemies can also be blown to bits with explosives and will leave blood splatters all over the shiny floors. Whoever decorated the tower interior also made sure to place plenty of explosive canisters everywhere, so watch out where those stray bullets are heading. Levels tend to look the same, though, and we yearned to explore the rain-drenched world that can be glimpsed outside the tower. Neon Chrome does feature a surprising number of graphical options and it is possible to toggle everything from reflection and shadows to filters for bloom, film grain, and post-processing. We like the user interface too with player health shown in a circle around the character while information such as the timer and amount of cash collected is shown at the bottom of the screen. Even the upgrades and loadout screens are kept in-game as players walk up to specific terminals or booths to perform these actions.

Unsurprisingly, the soundtrack for Neon Chrome features plenty of synthesizer-heavy tracks that are a good match for the game’s overall look and feel. In addition, there are some speech snippets from the Overseer as well as the usual assortment of bullet sounds and explosions. We found the controls to be responsive and players can choose between using a keyboard and mouse or controller. A laser marker shows the direction in which players aim, but the accuracy of their chosen weapon will determine how closely bullets stick to this trajectory. Weapons are rated on things like damage, accuracy, and RPM, but can be upgraded at special terminals or by spending cash before each run. Players can also swap out their weapons for one of the dozens of others that can be found. Shooting is not always the best option as some enemies hide behind shields, which is where the melee attack comes in handy. Players should also keep an eye open for temporary power-ups, such as the “vampire” one that drains enemies in a radius around the player or “pierce” that makes it easier to shoot through walls. These power-ups only last a few seconds but can make a huge difference.

10tons have proven that they are capable of making great top-down shooters with plenty of replay value and while Neon Chrome is not their best work it is quite fun. The game can be a bit of a grind as upgrades go up to 100 and the price increases for each level. Fortunately, every time players complete the game they can increase the “level” of the Overseer, which makes enemies harder but improves the loot. The game is also always pushing players forward, with a timer visible onscreen at all times and reinforcements arriving on the level if they dawdle for too long. This can be a bit annoying, especially when searching for the elevators that lead to special levels or when trying to find more loot, but fortunately, there is a perk that can disable reinforcements. Neon Chrome also supports two to four players in shared screen local co-op and has mod support for further replay value. The game is not without flaws and can become repetitive due to how similar the levels look, but each time our character died we were immediately ready to jump back in and try again.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8 / 10
  • Processor: 2 Ghz
  • Memory: 2048 MB RAM
  • Graphics: SM 3.0+
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 200 MB available space
  • OS: OS X 10.8+ recommended
  • Processor: 2 Ghz
  • Memory: 2048 MB RAM
  • Graphics: SM 3.0+
  • Storage: 200 MB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 16.04 or SteamOS
  • Processor: 2 Ghz
  • Memory: 2048 MB RAM
  • Graphics: SM 3.0+
  • Storage: 500 MB available space

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