By Josh Speer / August 31st, 2016
Author’s Note: I was unable to try out the multiplayer aspect of the game
One thing about myself I’ve discovered in the past couple of years is that I am a big fan of roguelike games and twin stick shooters. So when I was offered the opportunity to play NeuroVoider, an Early Access pixelated rampage that involved both, I jumped at the opportunity. NeuroVoider isn’t a game heavily focused on plot, but what plot there is serves to set the stage well, with the additional bonus of some very unexpected humor.
When you boot up the game, you quickly discover that the character you play as isn’t really a person. Rather, you control the game via an animate, bouncing little brain that makes its way out of a glass enclosure. You instantly startle a seemingly helpful little droid, who then goes on to instruct you on how the game works. Quickly you’ll discover that your brain can take control of robotic bodies, and use them to battle the sinister machines which have nearly wiped out humanity. Sure, the little droid may have ulterior motives for helping you, but that doesn’t make it any less adorable, right?
As for the gameplay itself, it involves making your way through randomized missions and destroying the reactors which power the robots in the facilities you invade. You battle them using one of three different types of builds, such as Dash, Rampage and Fortress. Though the outer designs of each will vary every time you play, their basic mechanics will not. For example, the Dash droids can dash through enemy attacks and typically favor close quarters weapons such as beam swords, whereas the Rampage bots can shoot things from a distance, as well as going into rampage mode for a brief period of bullet fun. Finally the Fortress can erect an invulnerable shield temporarily at the expense of movement. They all play differently, but by far my favorite was Rampage, since it felt like the most well-balanced class. Besides the basics, you can also select a special skill when you start up, ranging from simple healing to EMPs that short out all nearby enemies to a bullet wiper that prevents any projectiles from touching you. There’s a price for these skills, though, as they are powered by crystals you can only acquire from dead droids.
While selecting your next mission, the game will clearly display the ratio of enemies and compare it against the size of the stage and the number of reactors you need to destroy to move on. While you can certainly play it easy and select smaller stages with less enemies and reactors, that’s not always a safe bet. In my experience, a stage having less foes only meant they would all swarm me suddenly with a real zest to take me apart. Also, by selecting more difficult stages, you’re rewarded with better loot, which you can use between stages to upgrade your bot.
Using scrap you’ve acquired from the previous stages, you are able to heal your robot or upgrade its parts, ranging from weapons to armor and more. This is pretty important, since your default weapons and armor aren’t amazing, and the enemies can overwhelm and defeat you pretty quickly if you’re not careful. This is why I didn’t like the close quarters droids, since you could be picked apart before you had a chance to retaliate. The Rampage bot helped me with this, as I could take cover and fire on swarms of robots, running farther away if need be. Though the game does indicate when you’re right next to a bunch of enemies, I really wish it had a minimap that more clearly marked enemy presence. There’s nothing quite so terrifying as turning a blind corner and seeing a exclamation point pop up seconds before you’re wiped out by a torrent of gunfire, blades and grenades. Another minor complaint I have thus far is the boss battles. While they are indeed epic, I was annihilated by the first boss I faced before I ever figured out his weak spot or was able to mount a real offensive. Given that the game utilizes permadeath, it would be great if the boss fights felt a little more fair and balanced.
However, those are my only real complaints with NeuroVoider thus far. I really enjoy the artistic style and the tunes that play are energetic and charmingly frenetic. The music is like night club candy to my ears! Flying Oak Games have done a good job with NeuroVoider thus far, and I’m curious to see how it stacks up after it leaves Early Access today. I think there’s a hell of a lot of potential in the game, and think that with a bit of cleaning up and balancing, it could easily become one of my favorite games on Steam.
Early AccessFlying Oak GamesNeuroVoiderPCPS4RoguelikeTwin stickXbox One