Carves out its own piece of a growing roguelike pie, a pizza pie.
The Nindie scene is booming right now on the Nintendo Switch. It feels like every week we are treated to a game that provides an experience we weren’t expecting. With so many entries in the roguelike genre new titles need to present new ideas or run the risk oversaturation. NeuroVoider does just that. It expertly mixes together RPG elements into a twin stick shooter that’s set in a futuristic setting that feels like it’s from an ‘80s sci-fi movie. Between blowing up enemies in spectacular fashion and building a robot from the most ridiculous components you can find, NeuroVoider proves once again that Indie games should not be overlooked.
To start off, you’ll choose from 3 different types: Dasher, Rampage, and Fortress. The Dasher class relies on speed, opting to take enemies head on by quickly attacking with melee weapons. If you like the idea of all out offensive but prefer to do it at a distance and blow stuff up, then the Rampage class is more your style. Lastly, the Fortress class is tailored for players who think a strong offence is a good defence by providing your mech with stronger armor.
After you’ve decided upon a mech type the tutorial proceeds to assist you with learning how to use your weapon systems. After your instructor “accidentally” triggers the alarm to alert enemies, you’re thrown into a sink or swim scenario where you are told to use the shoulder buttons in order to destroy your attackers. Your mech is outfitted with two weapons at a time, each one being assigned to a left or right shoulder button.
The last instruction you’re given is how you activate your special ability. At the start of the game you’ll choose one special power from a list of abilities. The abilities can range from passive effects such as an extra life to active effects like mech repair that can be used multiple times after a recharge. Defeated enemies leave behind energy that can be collected to recharge active abilities.
It’s not that long into the main campaign, and after a few deaths, that you realize you’ve barely scratched the surface of what you’ll need to learn. The most important aspect you’ll need to learn early if you want any success is the complicated component upgrading system. As you make your way through each level your fallen enemies drop loot that can be collected. This loot will either be new components for your mech or components that can be turned into scrap that will enable you to boost existing components. After each level you’re taken back to a inventory screen to review what you’ve collected and improve your mech accordingly.
Unfortunately the tutorial doesn’t explain anything about the inventory menu and it can get complicated. All mechs have 5 different upgradeable components: Vision, Core, Transport, Left Gun, and Right Gun. The first 3 components are class specific, so if you’ve chosen the Rampage class you can still collect loot in game for the Fortress class. In the menu there is an option to automatically scrap non-class components to save you some time since they are unusable. The selection of usable components can become complicated as each has multiple attributes to consider. For example, the Core system component is partially responsible for your HP, your weapons ammunition guage, as well as a third special feature like boosted weapon recharge. RPG fans are going to feel like a kid in a candy store with all of the different combinations and possibilities but the casual gamer may just feel overwhelmed.
Thankfully, the weapon selection is less convoluted, allowing all weapons to be utilized by all classes. The levels have been designed to encourage experimentation, smaller maps are more suited for precision guns like the lasers and beams while the larger maps are easier to navigate with larger scale damage weapons like the Nuke. A lot of creativity went into the weapon design, with names such as the “Big Double Beam of Judging” to the “Shotgun of Shiny Breaking”. After 30 to 50 playthroughs each campaign reveals a weapon I haven’t used before.
So after you’ve gotten through the tutorial, and mastered the inventory system it’s finally time to blow stuff up and NeuroVoider doesn’t disappoint. With countless weapons to choose from, there is no end to the fun of destroying hundreds of enemies each level. The twin-stick battle system is smooth and precise. The left joystick controls the movement of your mech and the right joystick controls the direction that your weapons will fire in. If you think you’re going to run in guns blazing and expect victory think again. The amount of enemies, as well as environmental obstacles require strategic thinking and careful technique. It takes an understanding of the weapon type you’ve chosen and some patience to make it to the end of a level. In a permadeath setting throwing caution to the wind is going to lead to nothing but frustration.
Everything about NeuroVoider just feels good. As a fan of the RPG genre, I love how strategy based thinking has been perfectly mixed with heart pounding action. The biggest concern with Rougelike permadeath is avoiding the feeling of staleness and there is no concern of that here. For one of the best Indie experiences on the Switch so far, the small investment into learning the complexity of the inventory system is more than worth it.