Neon Chrome has been out on a lot of platforms for a while. It's already highly praised, featuring tight gameplay, procedural generation, and couch co-op that's extremely fun. Now, developer 10tons has shown their support for Nintendo's hybrid console, bringing this hit to the masses.
The game has already received great scores, but how well do the top-down action and tough-as-nails gameplay translate to the system? Read our review to find out.
The story for Neon Chrome isn't complex, but it's clear that effort has been placed to incentivize the gameplay. You are set in a futuristic world where one building (called Neon Chrome) is bigger than all the rest. It is home to a virtual reality machine where you take control of an avatar who gets loaded with guns and missiles. Your goal is to get to the top of the building to fight the owner of the Neon Corporation, who has clearly gone mad with power.
The game doesn't dwell too much on this aspect, save for a few moments where the big boss talks to you, but what's there is fine for what it is. It won't blow you away, but it more than gets the job done.
Neon Chrome is an arcade-style twin stick shooter. This means simple action but plenty of challenge. On that front, the game really delivers. Each room (or level) is procedurally generated, so you'll never encounter the same problem twice. However, as you get closer to the top of the tower, the difficulty scales up so that you'll be given a serious run for your money.
Thankfully, Neon Chrome doesn't just have you start the game and put you through the gauntlet. There's depth to this title. Right when you start, you're given the option to select from three different classes (there are more, but only three options are given to you with each run). While they all play similarly, each one has different stats and abilities that are good in some situations and bad in others.
Your options don't stop there. As you progress through the many rooms of Neon Chrome, you'll come across different and more powerful weapons to give you an edge, a machine that allows you to add abilities and stat bonuses, and credits that you can use to purchase other types of upgrades. This system adds a lot of replay value to the game, and I had a blast searching every nook and cranny for another upgrade to add to my collection. It's important to mention that every weapon and ability you find in the game will be made available at the main hub for you to purchase for your next run.
Where many procedurally-generated games fail is by giving you a tough main game to complete with no relenting whatsoever. Neon Chrome, on the other hand, smartly goes a different route. All of the levels are segmented into five worlds. At the end of each world, you'll fight a boss, and after that, you'll have the option to immediately start at the world you died in during your next run.
On top of that, the game doesn't penalize you for starting ahead of the curve. Instead, you'll just have to work harder and play better to beat each room, as you may underprepared to deal with some of the tougher enemies. This is where the credit system comes into play. With each enemy you beat and crate you find, you'll be given credits that accumulate across all of your runs. In between rounds, you can spend them to give your next run (or asset) a special ability, grenade, or weapon (but they only last once). Everything is reasonably priced as well, so you'll be able to continuously do this if you're skilled enough. If you prefer a more permanent product, Neon Chrome has you covered there as well. You can spend your credits on permanent stat upgrades to every character you use, including health, damage, luck, and even number of abilities you're allowed to hold. Very seldom are twin stick shooters these customizable, but 10tons really went the extra mile with this game.
Let's talk about the combat itself. In short, everything feels great and responsive. The button mapping isn't perfect (especially that reload button), but it all works as well as it needs to. Blasting through rooms is a breeze when you know how to play the game and maneuver around the hordes of enemies you'll face. If you've got a guy behind you, it's easy to snap around and fire away.
As you go through the many rooms of Neon Chrome, you'll encounter all kinds of different enemies. I'm glad 10tons focused on giving different types of enemies with different strengths and weaknesses- it forced me to think before I just rushed into a room and started shooting. As you get further in, you'll face newer and more threatening foes, meaning that you never quite know what to expect in each level.
This leads me into the boss fights. While everything else is randomly put together, the boss battles were hand-crafted and are the same each time. That may take away the unpredictability of the game, but in its place are some battles that are invigorating, challenging, and just plain fun. That said, there were times when I felt that a boss's abilities were a bit unfair and it took me several tries to take them down.
As if all of this content wasn't enough, Neon Chrome supports local co-op with up to four people. This is also in the PC version of the game, but on the Nintendo Switch, it feels much more natural, as the console was designed for this type of play.
That's not to say that every decision in the game was too its benefit, though. I noticed several performance issues when a lot of bad guys were on screen or when I fired some missiles. Furthermore, there are some classes that are inherently better than others- that system could use some balancing.
graphics & audio
Neon Chrome isn't a bad-looking game. Based on futuristic tech, it's very dark with a lot of purples and blues to contrast with the industrial/technological setting. The only complaint that I have is that the colors don't pop as much as they should for a game called Neon Chrome. Everything feels drab all the time.
On that note, I should also point out that the setting of the game isn't very exciting. Because it's all taking place in a single building, every room (regardless of the world you're in) is aesthetically identical. I would've appreciated some steps taken to give each world a different feel because every level blends together as a result. I remember Neon Chrome as an overall experience rather than thinking of standout moments.
In the audio department, there's a lot to like with the sound effects. There are several weapon types that each make distinct noises so that you can identify what your enemies are using from far away. It's all very polished, considering that the game has been out for over a year on other platforms.
The area that disappoints is the music. Apart from a few tunes, it all blends together much like the levels. No risks were taken here, and I would've appreciated a bit more effort to give it some more style. Nonetheless, that isn't a deal breaker by any means.
If you're looking for an action co-op game on the Nintendo Switch, you may not find a better deal than Neon Chrome. Despite some performance issues and drab aesthetics, there's a lot to get invested in with non-stop action, plenty of customization options, and difficult but fair gameplay. The game actually stands out more on the Nintendo Switch for me than on other platforms, which makes it even more of a great buy- and at $14.99, what's stopping you?
|+ Fun action||– Performance issues|
|+ Nearly endless customization||– Drab visuals|
|+ Great with friends||– Uninspiring soundtrack|
|+ Diverse enemies||– Some boss battles feel slightly unfair|