Mixing Some of This With Some of That
It is not often to use the phrase “4-player twin-sticker shooter RPG Roguelike” to describe a game but Flying Oak Games’ Neurovoider fits this bill. It is also a wonder as to why a game like this isn’t copied over and over since it is a such a strong gameplay formula.
The player plays as a brain that breaks out of a test tube and gets inserted as the control board for a gun-toting robot. The ultimate goal is to complete 20 randomly generated consecutive levels, shooting anything that moves with a twin-stick shooter style of control. Neurovoider’s gimmick is the ability to assign different weapons and abilities to each shoulder and trigger button, encouraging the collection of randomly dropped loot and experimentation of weapon/ability combos. In order to keep this offensive and defensive system in balance, the player needs to be mindful of the EP meter as each action depletes points that will eventually refill in time. Use up all your juice and you are dead in the water for a few seconds.
What makes Neurovoider a mindless entertainer is the ability to partner with three other local players. Unfortunately, the overall fun factor loses something during a single player excursion, as you can experience for yourself through my live stream below, since the difficulty doesn’t adjust to the number of players available. This makes boss fights extremely difficult in single player mode (I managed to take out the first boss by the skin of my teeth during my stream) but more entertaining in multiplayer since boss weak points fluctuate and the screen gets riddled with bullets and baddies. Most enemies, whether a boss, common baddies, or Elite, can usually be handled by shooting and back pedaling. This tactic is not only necessary to succeed but makes the overall experience more repetitive than it needs to be.
Along the way, the player(s) will collect tons of loot. Anything old or not worthwhile can be scrapped and turned into the game’s form of currency to upgrade existing weapons and even regenerate lost health in-between each stage. Unfortunately, this inventory management system is clumsy and a little difficult to read due to small font. However, this system has been built so four players can maintain their personal stash simultaneously to keep the intermissions as short as possible. The other major bummer is the multiplayer mode is limited to local co-op only. A game like this is just begging to be played online with a full party and loses its luster restricted to same-sofa only. Also, it can be a bit frustrating being force to completely restart from scratch with every death but that is the point of a Roguelike; there is a save option available in single player only mode in case you need to step away and come back later. There is also a daily quest option available from the main menu to attempt a specific run each and every day which is a decent incentive to keep players coming back if the normal randomly generated stages of the main quest weren’t enough.
With a 16-bit visual style, this twin-stick shooter plays smoothly but could benefit from some additional personality. Within just a few stages, the player will essentially experience every type of repeating environment and enemy the game has to offer and becomes rather stale in presentation quickly; shooting the same exploding containers over and over can be annoying. The soundtrack, however, is a surprise highlight and is a stand-out in the overall presentation.
Despite solid framework, there are a few elements that hold back Neurovoider’s overall fun factor. But for a 4-player co-op twin stick shooter with RPG features priced under $15, it could very well hold you over until Smash TV makes it triumphant return.
Not As Good As: Robotron
Wait For It: a new Smash TV
Also Try: Livelock
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com