NeuroVoider Review - Co-op Mech Madness
Quick Glance - NeuroVoider
- Platform: PS4, Steam (Windows, Mac, Linux)
- Players: 1-4
- Achievements: Yes
- Steam Trading Cards: Yes
- Controller Support: Full
- Retail Price: $13.99
High Level Premise: Years into the future, your brain is suspended in a cryo-tube. Break it free and hop into a nuclear powered vehicle and blow everyone up.
Graphics/Style: 16-bit top down retro twin stick shooter RPG rogue-like (or rogue-lite according to developer Flying Oak games).
Music/Soundtrack: Fantastic 16 bit soundtrack with great beats and catchy hooks.
Story: In true Retro fashion, the story is simple: The NeuroVoider has taken over the world and only your brain tossed in a build-it-yourself mech can save the day.
Replay-ability: Tons, as with most roguelikes, levels are procedurally generated and offer a wide variety of layouts and themes. Level paths can be chosen based on size, enemy counts, and loot quantities. Upgrades, add-ons, and the ability to marry these to any of the main characters mean you can play this game in a variety of ways.
Time Commitment: Rounds go quickly, and the game must be “beaten” in one play through. 4-6 hours would give you a thorough experience, 8-12 would allow you to plumb the depths of this game has more fully.
Value: High, There’s a lot of depth to this game and the variety of experiences it offers adds to what you get for the price. Add in some friends for local co-op and its money well spent.
Favorite Element: Graphics and soundtrack. This game is a perfect example of why retro-styled games are so successful these days. This looks like a game that I would have booted up on my SNES in my parents living room as a kid. However, the SNES could not have handled the sprite count, soundtrack, and sheer mayhem that this game creates. So a modern game experience that makes me feel like I’m 10 again? Add in a killer soundtrack and 4 player couch co-op? Count me in!
This is your brain. This is your brain in a glass tube. This is your brain in mechanized vehicle blowing up everything. This is NeuroVoider. From the title screen you a greeted with ominous 16-bit music and a title screen that feels lifted right out of the SNES/Genesis era. As you begin the game, your brain is greeted by FAT.32, your guide in this post-apocalyptic world. He tasks you with choosing your class, Dash, Fortress, or Rampage, and arming yourself then taking down the NeuroVoider. FAT.32 is a fun character with some great one-liners and video game references who may have more in store for you than he’s letting on.
Your mech comes with two weapons that draw on your EP to fire. EP recharges automatically, so you’ll never run out of ammo…until you drain your EP, overheat, and are rendered a pacifist for several seconds while war rages around you. This mechanic can be frustrating until you get used to timing your attacks to prevent overheating. You can also choose from a wide array of skills from healing players, increasing attacks, manipulating time and more. To use these you must collect crystals off the smoldering heaps of your enemies remains.
Those smoldering heaps will also leave behind health power-ups and additional weapons and equipment for your class. This loot is vital to your progression in the game as it allows you to customize your loadout and buff your character. Between each level, you’ll have the opportunity to repair yourself, equip new weapons, boost them, and forge new ones. All of this requires Scraps, NeuroVoider’s in game currency. Unused weapons and pick-ups can be Scrapped to help you Forge, Boost and Repair. While I am not a fan of games holding my hand too much as I learn how to play them, this system is not explained well. The concept of Scrapping was glossed over, and I spent a lot of time thinking the crystals I was gathering to refill my Skill Points in game were actually the Scraps. The menus get a bit confusing and you find yourself going back and forth often as you attempt to maximize your Loot, Scraps, and build. Hiding in the pause menu on this screen is a 7-page document that helps you figure this all out, but it is not an exhaustive manual. However, once you figure this all out the game really takes off.
You can customize your mech to fit your style, and you can even switch classes mid game if you have enough components to replace yourself. The weapon variety is fantastic and adds amazing depth to the game play. My favorite build involved a bullet weapon that fired bouncing spinning death blades and a double beam sword that would slice through enemies like margarine. Boosting and combining these components leads to a satisfying experience full of variety. This makes the Roguelike gameplay even greater. Since you restart at square one each time, the random nature of the drops means that each build will look different. The downside is when you die, that build dies too.
Speaking of dying, get used to that happening. A lot. Even the easy mode in NeuroVoider is no picnic. Controls are tight and responsive, and though I died MANY times in this game, it was never as a result of poor controller interface. But be prepared to approach the steep learning curve and embrace the repeated reminders of your fragility and mortality. Thankfully the game does allow you to save and resume later, and you can spend level skip coins to jump past problem areas. Boss fights are huge, chaotic, and challenging. You’ll see several on your journey and find them a nice break from the dungeon crawl. There are Arcade (easy), Rogue (medium), and Voider (hard) Modes.
With each difficulty, there are more enemies, more chaos, and more damage. Keep a close eye on your HP, it goes quickly, and health is at a premium in this game. As a minor complaint, I really wish this game used rumble to let you know you’re taking damage. At points of gameplay, enemies, bullets, screen shaking explosions, and loot that can make tracking your meters in the corners of the screen difficult. Many of my deaths were caused by unseen attacks that I didn’t realize were occurring during the bedlam. Rumble would have been a great indicator to this.
Where NeuroVoider really excels is in couch co-op. Playing alone is enjoyable, playing with 1-3 friends is outstanding. Bringing allies to the battle broadens your team’s abilities, skills, and tactical approach. You can heal one another, sacrifice yourself to boost the team, trade loot, and even help the team a bit once you’ve died. I played a good bit before adding other players, and I felt I had experienced the bulk of what the game had to offer. Firing this up with a couple friends breathed new life into game as we blew up everything in sight. I can’t recommend this enough, it makes the game so much better. Unfortunately there is no online play, and I was disappointed to see that SharePlay was not enabled.
So is it worth busting your brain out of its stasis tube and hopping into a mech to blow up the evil Neurovoider and it’s minions? Yes! The surprising depth of weaponry, customizations, classes, and variety of levels makes this game a fun value. Be prepared for a challenge, a lot of dying, and for some less than stellar menus and tutorials. In total, NeuroVoider is an explosive game that excels with its amazing retro graphics, soundtrack, depth, and incredible local co-op experience worthy of you and your friends gaming time.