Game: Neon Abyss
Genre: 2D, Action, Platformer, Roguelite
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PC, PS4, Xbox One and IOS)
Developer|Publisher: Veewo Games| Team 17
Age Rating: EU 16+ | US Teen
Price: UK £15.99 | EU €19,99 | AUD $28.95 | USD $19.99|CAD $ N.A.
Release Date: July 14th 2020
Team 17 has come a long way over the years. Once it was the developer of the addictive Worms series, but it has grown, expanded, and published some truly original and impressive titles over the years. Some favourites that come to my mind include the delightful Overcooked series, the charming My Life at Portia, and the dark but alluring Blasphemous. It looks like the momentum isn’t stopping anytime soon as Team 17 continues to bring more developers’ work to life over the upcoming year.
Today we have Neon Abyss, an attractive-looking roguelite game that is dropping onto your Switch, hoping to get you dancing with some glow sticks. But before we dance, let’s explore.
Sound of the Underworld
So the plot is interesting. You’re part of “Grim Squad,” a task force set up by Hades, and your job is to infiltrate the Abyss and defeat the New Gods. But this is no normal underworld. This place feels like an underground 90s rave with glow sticks and neon lights everywhere. Heck, when you drop into the first level, you’re greeted with two giant statues covered in multiple neon lights.
This underworld also has one of the funkiest soundtracks I’ve ever heard in a game based on this theme. I spent much of this game bobbing to the beats. The music also seems to appropriately elevate when the action kicks in, then fades when there’s a quiet moment.
The plot is simple and to the point because Neon Abyss knows you want to jump straight into the action.
Gun and Platform
Neon Abyss plays as a 2D run-and-gun platformer. You’ll mostly be shooting with the right stick whilst moving about with the left. Just like the usual roguelite formula, you enter a room, take out all the enemies, then progress until you reach the boss room.
Repeat this for a few levels and then give yourself a high five and go make a cup of coffee before jumping into another playthrough. No? Maybe that’s just something I do.
The gameplay is fun. Whilst the game moves pretty fast, I never thought the pace was as over-the-top and crazy like some roguelite games. I always felt in control of my character and even when the bullets were flying at me I had sufficient time to work out how to weave through the hazards.
Of course, that doesn’t mean to say the game is easy. Some runs, the odds are just in your favour: you find the right guns, pick up helpful abilities, and things just fall into place. But often with these types of games, failure is more likely than success.
It’s Neon Abyss’ great soundtrack and fun gun play that just kept me coming back for more punishment, regardless of how terrible I would perform.
The Little Things That Make It Glow
Neon Abyss is about the little details that make it stand out. I love how before a run, you can hit the dance floor and watch your character bust a move. This animation is different for each character. Playable characters feel interesting and unique, each has a unique trait. I often switched around playable characters rather than just sticking to a favourite.
There’s a large variety of enemies and bosses to encounter, which come with comic-style retro graphics. Boss fights are also rather quick and not long grinds. In fact most of my runs clocked in under 30 minutes, making this a handy roguelite game you can dip in and out of, lunch breaks being a prime time for me.
You can also collect eggs during runs which potentially hatch into handy little friends as you progress through the rooms. This reminded me a lot of the infamous Yoshi series, only you can’t throw the eggs at enemies. No biggie.
Prepare to Grind
My main critique of this title is how the game handles progression. When you defeat a boss you obtain these yellow gems. When you finish a run or die, you can spend the gems at the bar (yes, the underworld bar) to unlock a variety of new items, including characters, passive abilities, and new rooms—the latter of which is not commonly unlocked in a roguelike game. These are unlocked via a sort of skill tree system, but most items require more than 5 gems to unlock.
The trouble with this is that you can only obtain a single gem per boss defeat. So do a little math and you soon realize that unlocking new goodies requires a pretty harsh grind. It look me hours of grinding just to unlock a single new character.
Feels like this could be remedied easily by allowing more gem drops per playthrough. This would ensure a better pace of progression, as well as encourage people to continue playing as opposed to being distracted by another shiny game flying past their window. Look, there it goes now.
Essentially the more you play, the more you unlock and the more the game opens up. It’s just a little slow getting to that point.
Neon Abyss has got the right roguelite moves, while it feels like a bit of a grind to unlock new things in the game. Those that decide to stick with it will be rewarded with a fun and addictive shooter that will have you returning run after run. Grab your glow sticks, get your best 90s outfit, and prepare to dance. Once you’ve worn yourself out though, you can still play another few rounds of Neon Abyss.
Final Verdict: I like it a lot