Title: Neon Abyss
Developer: Veewo Games
Release Date: July 14, 2020
Version Tested: Switch
Since joining the Nerd Stash I’ve written myself quite a few game reviews. In that time, few games have confounded we the way Neon Abyss did. The long and short of it is that, I wanted to like this game. It has some very pleasing aesthetics. The art style stands out, even if it feels like something you’ve seen dozens of times before.
The gunplay too has a weird dual existence. There’s nothing new and fresh, and yet it Neon Abyss feels like it’s just on the cusp of forging a new path in the roguelike genre. The problem is that when the smoke cleared and I really sat down and thought about what I wanted to write, I landed on the issue. The game tries hard to stand out in a crowded pack. It simply doesnt.
Replayability Just Isn’t There in Neon Abyss
It’s pretty clear that this game wants to emulate something like Dead Cells. It’s pretty difficult. I even tried the thing on easy, because I wanted to see if there was a chance to just zoom through the levels. Maybe I’m just bad at games but I sure didn’t find the “baby a** baby” setting very simple. There are certainly some people who might find that endearing. Earn your way through the levels. No one is taking a day off.
I would have felt a sense of pride if I had really started dominating. The problem is that I never started dominating, and having to start all the way over five times in 20 minutes wasn’t all that fun. The other problem is that Neon Abyss, like Dead Cells is set up so that it expects you to get further than you do in a short period of time. That means that you’re not really going to see the good gear and new characters until you get a ways into playing.
That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy a game that really makes you earn it. Suffice it to say I was shocked when I went and looked and saw this very site only gave Dead Cells a six out of 10. No way I would have given it less than a score of eight. Considering it’s one of my all-time favorite games, there’s no chance I wouldn’t have given it a perfect 10 if I’m being honest. That game sets itself apart because it’s hard, but there’s just enough to do and accomplish that you want to keep coming back. Neon Abyss didn’t make me want to keep coming back. I wanted to be done.
No Story to Speak Of
No, roguelike games don’t tend to offer great stories. As a general rule, if there is a story to be found, it’s as you play through the game. You’re going to have to piece it together. Certainly Dead Cells‘ story is second rate. But that’s ok. Because the gameplay is so fun.
Neon Abyss‘ gameplay is also fun, to a point. But as I said earlier, it’s not fun enough to call to me. It’s not a game that had me aching to play more of it. I didn’t feel like I really cared when my character died.
Some of that might be the cartoony appearance, which I actually really liked. The art style is easily the best part of Neon Abyss. At first glance, it seems simple, but then you look a bit harder and a bit closer and you see little touches here and there that make it pretty impressive looking.
Still, the art style didn’t engender me to worrying about the health and safety of the main character, or characters. As you level up and get into more fights and gather more items, you have the opportunity to change who you play as. That’s a nice addition to the gameplay, but I didn’t find myself caring at all about any of them, because I didn’t know anything about them.
There isn’t dialogue, there’s a bar you always start out in, but it’s never entirely clear why. It feels like developer Veewo worked overtime to make a kind of cutesy game and forgot to explain why they made the choices they made.
Verdict: Neon Abyss is a bit of an enigma because I felt like I should have loved this game. I wanted to love this game. When I decided to review it, I fully expected to come out the other side singing its praises and talking about how I needed to go and play it some more. It’s not a terrible title. In fact, it’s not even bad. It just leaves quite a bit to the imagination, even when you talk about the one truly original idea which is having “pets” that will tail you around and help you do battle. Everything in Neon Abyss seemed like a very good idea, not quite carried out.
- Colorful and flashy
- The Pets are an interesting addition
- Lots of weird weapons
- Replayability isn't great
- Tough levels, even on easy, still don't let you see a lot.