Note: I did not play the arena DLC.
Neon Chrome is a top-down shooter with randomized levels made by 10Tons that has you pit against an oppressive ruler known as the Overseer, the man in charge of an extremely large building that houses a million people known as Neon Chrome.
In Neon Chrome, you play as a person remote-controlling clones into fighting the oppressive rule of the Overseer, the ruler of a very large building that looks like the Tyrell Corporation building in Blade Runner. Your goal? Fight your way to the top of the tower (because of course the big bad guy lives at the top) and finish his oppressive rule over the tower.
Since I just talked about story, I might as well keep talking about it. The story here is lackluster. I don't believe every game needs a great story, but the ways this game teases you with tiny story bits that don't matter and just how interesting the world is, I was disappointed with the story. I felt like they could've done something cool with this world and with the story, but in the end the plot only got as far as 'bad dude in control, kill bad dude.' Speaking of the world, I also felt that didn't hit its tone either. Not only does the building in which you reside look like Blade Runner, but the few seconds you see of the outside world also had a great Blade Runner vibe to it. Unfortunately, after that the whole vibe is lost. Where Blade Runner is dark and on the verge of dystopian and utopian, Neon Chrome took a more basic neon cyberpunk theme that I felt like I have seen a thousand times before. The game had the happy cheesy themes of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon despite setting up this tale of oppression in this dark city. But I don't just say that because of its looks. This upbeat theme bleeds itself into multiple parts of the game. Such things like the music sounding like basic upbeat techno music (with one really good exception), and the pacing of the game was pretty fast; something I felt contradicted the Blade Runner vibe and dark story. I love the Blade Runnertheme, I am just disappointed that they didn't run with it (no pun intended).
When it came to the music, I was also disappointed in it for the same reasons I was disappointed with the themes. It just felt like basic cyberpunk music, and their wasn't a lot of it so it looped pretty constantly. Their are only eleven songs in the soundtrack, and every time you got into a new level a new song would play, so needless to say I heard the songs quite a bit. After a little while, I got a little annoyed with the songs because of how basic it felt. I keep holding this basic idea against Neon Chrome, but I say this because I feel like I have seen and heard these themes in other games, so by now it doesn't feel any different than seeing or hearing in it this game. Not only did I hear these eleven songs repeatedly in this game, but I felt like I have heard this general type of music in other games as well. But, their is one exception. Their is a song called Do Singularities Dream? that I think is a fantastic song that hits both the Blade Runner themes and the overall cyberpunk theme incredibly well. Every time I hit a new level, the only thing I wanted out of it was this song because of how great I think the song and how mediocre I think the other songs are. Unfortunately, this is only one song out of eleven, and I felt that my overall music experience with the game felt meh.
When it comes to the gameplay aspect, I would say that it is the best part of the game, but nothing that blew my socks off. The fast-paced gameplay is pretty fun, despite it contradicting the Blade Runner themes. Before going on, I will say that yes, I am that hung up on the theme, but the Blade Runnertheme in-and-of-itself wasn't something that seriously deterred my experience and will not weigh heavily on my score of the game. Moving on. When it comes to the gameplay, I would say everything about it ranged from serviceable to pretty good, with a few hiccups. the randomized levels felt okay, but the lack of variety in its rooms made a lot of the levels feel the same, which got repetitive after awhile. But what was within the levels, such as destructible environments, a pretty big arsenal of items, boosts, and weapons, different character classes a pretty big variety of enemies and special enemy and level modifiers, and more. The environments, despite being repetitive, were pretty fun to blast through for awhile, and with the variety of abilities and weapons picked up throughout the game meant that each playthrough could play out differently. For example, if I got the ability to turn invisible when standing still, I would just enter into a building and shoot some dudes, retreat into the next room and stand still, then wait for enemies to enter into my room and will sneak attack them. This is where the items, abilities, and weapons shine in this game. After a little while, I found my groove with a specific character and specific items and I started doing runs with those specific items. What's even better about these items is that you can actually buy items to be equipped to your character at the start of each game. Since this is a rogue-like and you do lose your items after death, having this option meant I didn't just have to hope I get the items I liked. Also in the game, you can buy incremental upgrades to your stats like health, luck, critical damage, and so on that actually stay beyond the character's death. On top of that, I thought the boss fights were pretty fun and the bosses were pretty creative. Finally, the game has four player co-op. I didn't play co-op with anyone else, but I am still glad that it is there.
Unfortunately, not everything is great about the gameplay. I talked about how the levels get repetitive due to the lack of variety, but that was also an issue I had with the mission of each level as well. For awhile, the mission was only to reach the elevator, which got pretty boring. It wasn't until later that a new mission type came into play: destroy the generators before reaching the elevators, something I found even worse. Despite some level modifiers like darkness or a lot of bombs, I didn't feel like the levels or the missions felt great. Also, I found the enemies to be pretty brain-dead, with the challenge mainly coming from a high quantity of enemies and guys with rocket launchers (as for the splash damage does a lot of damage and directly hitting you could be a one-hit kill). In the game some of the enemies have special abilities like healing those around him and boosts do various attributes like speed or health, but they felt like a time waster more than a challenge. And despite the bosses being pretty cool and being unique it their attack styles, I found them to be pretty easy, and circling around them and shooting would usually do the trick.
What I felt was the low point was the ending. After fighting a big boss (which again, can be easily defeated if you play it safe), you end with entering the Overseer's room, killing him, and taking his place as the new Overseer. I guess I shouldn't expect a great ending if the story was rather poor, but I still felt rather disappointed at the ending. But the ending was actually just a way to keep you playing. What happens after the ending is that the Overseer goes from 1.0 to 2.0, and the game wants you to go back and take out the Overseer again. After killing 2.0, you get to 3.0, and this loops happens for as long as you like, although anyone who does go for that long say they stop at 10.0. It's nice that the loop is there I guess, but there was never anything that compelled me to get to 10.0. Essentially, the stats of the enemies rise and more special ability enemies appear, but your stats are also on the rise with the incremental upgrades you buy. It's just playing the game over and over again, but with the game getting slightly harder each time and you getting slightly upgraded and slightly better skill wise each time. I didn't feel like there was anything that made me want to go any farther. If anything, I could almost relate the post-game to an idle game, as for it is essentially just playing the same game but with the numbers going up. Whether or not you like that style of looping gameplay can only be answered by you though.
The verdict: Neon Chrome is a serviceable top-down shooter that all around is rather basic. Nothing in this game to me felt unique in any way, and I found disappointed in more places than I would've liked. Still, you can't go wrong with the gameplay (although their is much better). In the end, I can't bring myself into saying this is a bad game... but I can bring myself into saying that this isn't a good game either, and if you want this kind of experience then I would say at least look at other options before considering this one.