Review: Neon Abyss

The first weapon I collected was a cat that fires laser beams from its face.

Just let that register for a moment. It gives you some idea of where Neon Abyss is going.

Neon Abyss is a twin-stock procedurally generated Roguelike. After a short tutorial, you’re greeted to the hub-world. From a 2D perspective, pixel-art and bright colours help Neon Abyss stand out. Before jumping into the Abyss to complete your mission of basically killing everything, you get the opportunity to dance at a rave party. Ok…

Levels are split into rooms, some with simple puzzles, treasures, or a multitude of bad guys to kill before you can proceed. The shooting is decent – one stick moves, the other shoots with the triggers used as a jump button. It’s a very pleasing control-scheme and helps initiate a platform cross shooter dynamic.

Your journey into the Abyss is destined for a confrontation with a series of Mangers – grotesque bosses whose flurry of attacks mimic elements of bullet-dodging shoot ‘em ups. Obviously, there’s a challenge here, but a persistent currency exists to allow you to receive upgrades to your character between dying. Another cool feature is the combination of eggs and crystals.

Crystals are collected through levels and can be used to unlock doors, but there’s a limited amount so you need to think about what you’re unlocking. Maybe you’ll go for one that clearly reveals a treasure or another with an unknown room behind it. The choice is yours. Eggs can be collected and sort of hover behind you as a run, hatching over time. Once hatched you get a pet with an ability which will aid you on your mission. These stack, so you can become quite powerful over time during your run.

The immediacy of action is a real boost for Neon Abyss. Even better, despite it being procedurally generated, once you finish a level (or die) you’re given a seed code letting you replay or share the level. Sadly, there are some limits – despite the pixelated art style, the frame rate does take some dips. I played on PS Pro and found it mostly fine, certainly still playable although a friend has complained of very significant impacts on Switch. Hopefully, this will be patched out, although I imagine JoyCon uses will find other challenges using twin-stick shooting precision due to the nature of stick length.

I was a bit worried going into Neon Abyss that the style and gameplay loop has been done before. Dead Cells springs to mind, but also Enter the Gungeon, even Spelunky feel comparable, but I think it does enough to stand on its own and fit in comfortably among these peers as a good game in its own right. With that in mind, if you like roguelikes or shooters, it’s worth a look.

Reviewed on PS4

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