Developer: Flying Oak Games
Publisher: PLAYDIUS Ent., Plug In Digital Label
ESRB: E for Everyone
One of my favorite things about the indie scene of the gaming industry is the variety of video games that these developers put out. One unique genre that has spawned from the creativity of these developers is the “roguelike” genre; these experiences are difficult and yet ever-changing thanks to procedurally generated content. Many try hard to capture the experience well but don’t always succeed—FTL, Spelunky, and Rogue Legacy are a few that have seen great success. Notice that all of those mentioned titles also have a retro style, which is also very popular among indie video games. NeuroVoider does indeed hold all of the rogue-like indie tropes, but it brings a few characteristics of its own to the table that keep it a unique experience. Labeled as a twin-stick shooter RPG, NeuroVoider wants to play mind games and switch up the formula on us.
In NeuroVoider you play as a human brain that takes over old robot parts to get revenge on evil robots that have taken over the world. Along with that silly premise comes a shoot ’em up gameplay style. Players will be wielding a variety of guns that shoot bullets, missiles, lasers, electricity, and flames. All enemies are robots and simply explode when their health is depleted. The same occurs when a player is destroyed. Aside from that, there is no other negative content to be found here, which brings an “E” rating to this title for mild fantasy violence only.
As mentioned above, the story of NeuroVoider is silly and simple. Evil robots have pretty much annihilated humanity, or at least they thought they did. You are a human brain sitting in a test tube located in an underground lab. After being woken up by a friendly little machine, it is your mission to save humanity by destroying the enemy robots. All of that is shown when you start the game, and that’s about all the story we get once the stage is set. The main objective in each location is to destroy a given amount of enemy reactors. You are able to teleport to the next location when the objective is complete. You will be facing tons of enemies that will be relentless in hopes to destroy you, and they have access to the very same gear and weapons that you do.
NeuroVoider is a twin-stick shoot ’em up with RPG elements. You have a choice between three different class options for a starting robot build that is fully customizable. You will be picking up various loot and resources throughout each map, whether it be new parts or material to forge some new weapons or body parts yourself. Your left and right weapons are customizable along with your transportation, core, and vision. One of my robots got around on a single wheel while wielding a double-bladed sword for one arm and a shotgun for the other. I strived to put together the perfect build by gaining and crafting stronger parts. The number of customizable parts available is an insane amount, sort of reminiscent to the Borderlands series in that way.
The unique mission system is a concept I definitely admire, but I feel like it didn’t matter very much. It has a “choose your own path” kind of format; only three missions at a time are available to choose from. They all vary in three different categories: size, elites, and loot. Some missions are stronger and weaker in different categories, leading you to make a decision based on how much you would take a risk for greater reward in some situations. Most of the time, I would get destroyed easily by the hand of an “elite” enemy no matter what route I took. I couldn’t even make it to the first boss while playing solo! NeuroVoider was made to be played locally with four players. It is unfortunate that there is no online function for playing cooperatively with others as most of my gaming is done with friends or relatives online. Though I understand that this is a roguelike, sometimes it just feels unfairly difficult.
Though many games try to emulate the retro style of the good old days, NeuroVoider contains enough personality to keep things fresh. The soundtrack itself bleeds a cool, edgy dark synth style that is straight from an album called “Wrath of Code” from an artist by the name of Dan Terminus. The handful of areas are unique even with proper physics. In some cases I found myself sliding around in the ice area and couldn’t even go up a downward escalator in another. Navigating through the various menus in between missions is easy as well; it works in such a way that all four players can be crafting and customizing their exoskeletons all at the same time instead of having to wait for one another.
In such a huge market, NeuroVoider really stands out in my opinion. With a big help from the awesome soundtrack, it really oozes with personality despite the retro presentation that is almost way too common these days. Even though it can be unfairly difficult at times, I found myself still coming back for an hour or two at the very least. The twin-stick shooter gameplay is rather smooth and caters to different playstyles thanks to the variety in weapons and abilities. If you have a group of friends to team up with locally, there is some good chaotic fun to be had here. If not, then this one may not be for you (and instead, check out some of the titles mentioned above). What we have here is a nice addition to the genre. Sadly it will probably fall just under the radar with itsconsole release.
A review code for NeuroVoider was kindly provided by HomeRun PR
The Bottom Line
Neurovoider brings a solid presentation with its retro style and a sweet dark synth soundtrack. Despite the extreme difficulty that comes with the roguelike format, the fun shoot'em up gameplay kept me coming back. The deep customization and RPG elements make this one a no-brainer for roguelike fans, especially if you have a group of friends to team up with.