NeuroVoider (2017, Switch)

Sometimes I wonder which is worse, the blatantly bad game or the game that seemed like it was going to be something special, but then just kind of fizzles out before it really reaches its potential. In the first thirty minutes of NeuroVoider I was convinced I’d found some amazing hidden gem. It’s yet another rogue-lite dual-stick shooter, but one where the pixel art style is visually pleasing, the customization system for your robots body and weapons is well done and seems to be bursting with potential, the combat was fun and responsive, and the soundtrack was a great piece of retrowave.

However, another two hours later and I’d already beaten the game on the first try and had apparently pretty much already seen and done everything there was to see and do in that first half hour. The levels and enemies don’t really differ outside of a cosmetic sense. The four big bosses are the same every time and are really just four slightly different variations of the same boss (aside from a single different mini-boss at the very end). There are no new items or characters to be unlocked.

Basically there’s no incentive at all to play it more than once. This, to me, is one of the biggest sins you can commit as a rogue-lite/roguelike. If there’s nothing at all to be gained by repeated replays of the game, why build it on a system designed to force you to replay repeatedly? Luckily (or unluckily?), NeuroVoider is relatively easy for a rogue-lite. I actually don’t think I’ve ever played one of these kind of games that I could beat in a single try before this.

It reminds me most of Neon Chrome, a game with similar themes and nearly identical flaws, though I will admit that I think that the overall design of NeuroVoider is better at least.

The game can also be played in co-op with up to four players so maybe there’s more fun to be had that way, but that’s probably never going to happen so I guess I’ll just move on to the next thing.

I suppose I would still maybe recommend trying NeuroVoider if it’s on a very cheap sale and if you were ok with a game that’s well-produced, but has an extremely limited amount of content, but even then, it still wouldn’t be at the top of the list for cheap three-hour-or-less experiences. Oh well. Maybe if these developers find the time/money to make a more expansive sequel someday…

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