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Neon Abyss Review: Tick Tock

/ Sep 3rd, 2020 No Comments

Neon Abyss Review

Imagine the enormity of killing a God. Now imagine killing several Gods. What are the limits you’d go to in order to enact revenge on those who killed your family?

Neon Abyss takes elements of a number of different genres and game types and mashes them up into crack-cocaine gameplay. It is a bullet hell and a twin-stick shooter by way of a dungeon crawl with Contra vibes. Each run is like slipping a needle directly into your femoral artery to get that pure dope roguelike “one more run” fix.

Take the Plunge

Imagine the enormity of killing a God. Now imagine killing several Gods. What are the limits you’d go to in order to enact revenge on those who killed your family?

Neon Abyss Review
Sometimes you gotta trust someone for revenge.

By making a deal with a mysterious figure, your task is that. Kill Gods to exact your vengeance on the Titan Group. It is a two part scheme of revenge: hurt the group that killed your family and hurt those that took the mysterious man’s powers.

Neon Abyss isn’t heavy on story by any means. It sets forth a simple premise that unleashes you into a series of ever-shifting dungeons. Death is the only way out, but surviving is the only way forward. By moving forward, you’re asked to kill many different sets of Gods.

Neon Abyss Review
The different gods you must kill add to the personality of Neon Abyss.

God of War this ain’t. You’re not killing deities of ancient mythology. No, Neon Abyss has you tracking down Gods of modernity. Whether it is amorphous bouncing blobs modeled after popular fast food franchises, a demented Marionette representing pop Idols, or a deadly and ominous floating eye that embodies the dark net, these Gods are pervasive and terrifying. 

These Crispin Glover-esque Gods, along with the game’s many power-ups, guns and items, give the game such a distinct look and personality. Independent of a taut narrative structure, it is hard to deny that Neon Abyss tells a really cool story motivated by revenge and guns.

Running and Gunning

The mission is to track down and kill 5 Managers of Titan Group. Easy as pie, no? Not really. Each Manager, besides being a God, has its own capos below them. These lesser gods have foot soldiers that are intent on killing you to protect them and the manager. So easier said than done.

If you successfully kill a Manager. Well, all you have to do is kill another with more security: more capos and more foot soldiers. Each progressive Manager becomes far more protected and less obtainable. Or so it would seem.

Making matters more difficult, you start each assassination mission with the equivalent of a pea shooter and little health or defense. Fortunately, the sky’s the limit for you, my friend. Every level of the dungeon is littered in rooms. While each room contains your potential demise in the form of creatures bent on killing you, they also have rewards.

Neon Abyss Review
The weapon upgrades and perks make for a different experience each run.

The trick of Neon Abyss’ gameplay is the rewards you find as you explore the dungeon on your way to kill the Manager. These rewards come in many different forms such as more powerful guns like a boss six string that shoots musical notes that swirl around you, or power ups that let you drop mines every time you jump, or simply special hats like a frying pan that deflects bullets occasionally. All rewards come in various containers or as a continent like a clear reward for wiping out all the enemies in a room, a locked treasure chest, or a friendly shop, among others.

Oh and there are also eggs you can find that randomly hatch after clearing out rooms of enemies. If you’re lucky they hatch into a friendly familiar that enhances your arsenal. There is something very satisfying about having a chill clown throw random bombs at enemies as you light the room up like you’re John Wick.

It is the endless permutations of these different power-ups, guns, and egg familiars that make Neon Abyss such a deep experience. They create a lot of possibilities, especially for experimentation and creativity. You learn a lot about what combinations work well, and how not all new items are beneficial for your game. 

Neon Abyss Review
Boss fights are filled with bullets, so you know, no big deal.

A particularly deadly power is the ability for all your bullets to explode. If you’re not playing smart then you can easily wipe out your health because explosion damage hurts you too. However, the risk/reward aspect of new power ups is what makes each run exhilarating.

The roguelite aspect of the game is super edifying as well. Even if you beef it on a run only killing one mini-boss, it is furthering the metagame. Every boss fight nets you a special currency you can use in the bar to purchase upgrades. Upgrades range from new power-ups to new characters to new room types. They let you feel like you’re making progress even when you’re trying to kill your first Manager successfully.

Overall

Neon Abyss is one of the coolest games we’ve played so far in 2020. It invades your brain even after you stop playing it. The multitude of item combinations in each run means you’re never experiencing the same thing twice. Experimentation and creativity with load outs helps add to the addictiveness of each run. The game compels you to come back even after you realize it’s 2am and you got work at 5am. One more run and we’re good. Then the sun rises…

Neon Abyss was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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NEON ABYSS REVIEW: TICK TOCK

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall90%

GAMEPLAY9.5

Neon Abyss’ gameplay is endlessly addictive, challenging, and opens up a lot of creativity in terms of gun and power-up combinations. It has pitch perfect one more run roguelite combat.

GRAPHICS9

Visually, Neon Abyss is colorful, stylized, and cool as hell.

SOUND9

Neon Abyss’ score has that pulse pumping high octane electronic sound that amps you up to shoot some stuff!

STORY8.5

Neon Abyss doesn’t bog players down with layers of text or dialogue. It sets up its premise and lets players discover additional layers and meaning as they start killing Gods.

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