Neon Abyss – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Roguelike
Developer: Veewo Games
Publisher: Team17 Digital Ltd, Yooreka Studio (China)
Platform: Xbox One, PS4, Google Stadia,PC
Tested on: PC

Neon Abyss – Review

Site Score
7.5
Good: Lots of good ideas
Bad: Poor execution
User Score
7.3
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 7.3/10 (4 votes cast)

Another month and a new roguelike appears and thanks to the success of the genre there is never a lack of new games on it. Most tend to be cut from the same cloth without much variation and Neon Abyss is no different, though it brings a pair of ingenious mechanics to the table.

 Story

There is a bit of story going for Neon Abyss, but as usual in the genre, it’s little more than an intro. The Titan Corporation has dethroned the old gods and taken over, leaving the player to defeat the new gods and take revenge.

Despite the interesting premise, nothing is really done with it, no more story snippets appear after the runs nor do the items contain any lore. All of them do contain some text though, just unrelated to each other and with more focus on “fun” than on story.

Graphics

The game’s graphics are great, though simple as there is not much difference between zones and enemies either though there are some outliers. The enemies could be described as having types and families, with types being generally the same enemy design, while families change the overall palette.

In contrast, bosses are really unique between each other. It’s fun to see that there are not two that look the same. That said, a single boss or “god” can have several looks that are all similar. Sometimes the name also changes while still keeping the same overall theme and structure going.

Sound

Sound is also really well covered in the game, with an entertaining electronic soundtrack and well made SFX. As it was to be expected, there is no voice acting both due to the genre and the lack of things to narrate.

Gameplay

Neon Abyss’ gameplay is standard shoot-em’-up roguelike. The player dives into a dungeon where they traverse through rooms battling onslaughts of monsters and finding a boss per floor. On every floor a shop and a guaranteed item can be found, with chances for more of the latter to appear.

The problem with this is how the game deals with the item and any special rooms. From the first floor onwards, all item rooms are locked and require a key, chances being any other special rooms will be as well. If the game worked like Enter The Gungeon or other roguelikes, where at least one of the resources to obtain items is guaranteed to appear, there would be no issue. Sadly this is not the case in Neon Abyss, where the player might not find a single key or grenade for several floors, locking them out of any upgrades (besides those dropped from bosses) and making them weaker against the stronger enemies.

Even in the cases where items are found, some are completely detrimental to the player or disable other items, without the chance to remove them once taken. There is no way to check the effects of items either. The only way to know what something does is checking the external Wikia. There are a lot of similar items as well, with a majority being reduced to “more damage” or “more fire rate” and a few with identical effects.

The weapon system does not compensate for this either. Weapons are guaranteed once per floor in the shop or randomly in rooms. There wouldn’t be a problem with the system if the player could carry several weapons, but only a certain character can do this, leaving the others limited to a single one. To make further finds even more pointless, there’s the balance, or rather lack thereof, which makes a few weapons overpowered and most other useless.

Besides these issues, the game also runs into the problem of lacking player mobility and depth field. This limits the options the player has to evade bullets to jumping and moving away, which is impossible in some cases. A few weapons provide defensive options, but these are few and not reliable, since they depend on resources. This lack of mobility also slows the game down earlier on, making it feel particularly sluggish compared with other games.

As somewhat of a compensation for the issues with items, the player has a “faith” meter. This meter has to first be activated with a faith object; after that, it can be filled with actions depending on which of the two faiths has been chosen. Wisdom requires clearing rooms without being hit, though this tends to be hard for obvious reasons. The other faith, Violence, is way easier to fill since it just requires taking damage. Both faiths can be also increased by activating more of the corresponding objects, though again Violence tends to be easier since Wisdom objects change into Violence ones when attacked by the player or enemies.

After the meter for either of these has been filled, a room that can be accessed from the teleporter appears on the floor. Wisdom rooms offer a choice between two items, while Violence ones offer three and take a heart slot in exchange.

Going back to the lack of resources mentioned earlier on, a lot of different chests and special rooms can appear, with most requiring said resources. In those runs where the player has none, these rooms become little more than a finger in the wound.

Conclusion

Overall Neon Abyss is a game with good ideas but lacking in execution. Depending on your run, it can be quite fun or a complete slog. Its price tag is alright for what it offers and with some quality of life changes, it could become a great game. For those that want to try out something new, it is recommendable enough for players if they have the patience for the heavy reliance on luck.

Personal Opinion

Neon Abyss is no marvel, but still is pretty solid. It offers an entertaining time with good runs being especially satisfying. That said, some other runs can be a complete slog to get through, like those I mentioned in the review, where no resources drop. Every time I had no bombs or keys, I ended up feeling like I was wasting my time clearing the whole floor since a lot of rooms require those resources. It is also really unsatisfying when, after spending a precious resource to open a chest, nothing more than a coin comes out. With some improvements and QoL changes Neon Abyss could be a remarkable game, but at the moment it’s just alright at best.”

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Rating: 7.3/10 (4 votes cast)
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Neon Abyss - Review, 7.3 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

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