One genre of games the Nintendo Switch is not short on is roguelike titles. The Nintendo Store is full of them; well-known titles such as The Binding of Isaac or lesser-known ones such as Cadence of Hyrule. It is the perfect system for roguelike games thanks to the Switch’s mobility and pick-up-and-put-down appeal. This does create a problem though, namely that there are so many roguelikes available to buy, and it becomes hard to stand out amongst the crowd. Verwoerd Games decided the best way to achieve this with Neon Abyss was to make the game feel familiar but also give it an original look and sound. For the most part, it works well, but it does not take long for Neon Abyss to feel like every other roguelike available.
Each game starts as you are dropped into the aforementioned Neon Abyss. This is the regenerated dungeon you will be exploring throughout your time, and at first glance, it seems a rather interesting place. It’s colourful with seemingly plenty of scope to explore. You will find though that the exploration of the (Neon) Abyss becomes less and less interesting the more times you drop into the dungeon as there isn’t much variety within the rooms you enter, and there isn’t much in the way of obstacles to challenge you.
Combat will also be incredibly familiar for you. Movement and jumping are controlled by the left analogue stick and ZL, with shooting being handled by the right analogue stick. For roguelike aficionados, it will be no problem at all shooting at the various, colourful enemies you’ll encounter. For those of us less inclined to using the right analogue stick to control shooting and aiming, it will take a little while to get used to; for the first ten minutes or so, I did nothing but shoot at the floor.
But once you have mastered the basic controls, you’re good to go. Exploring the Neon Abyss is simple as rooms are added to a mini-map as you enter them so you can backtrack without much hassle, if needed. You will also be able to teleport between certain rooms to make that element even easier. You’ll be able to acquire different weapons through the Abyss, as well as grenades that can be used as a weapon or to blow open chests/secret rooms. You will also be able to acquire other power-ups using keys and crystals that you’ll find while exploring.
You will also come across floating eggs that will hatch into little creatures that will follow you around and aid in your adventure. If you manage to protect them during combat, they will get stronger and become a massive help as you dive deeper into the Abyss. The bosses you’ll face are not particularly tough, but you may find yourself getting hit by their attacks just because of the size of the rooms you will fight in, so having the little egg dudes helping you can be the difference between starting afresh or diving deeper and seeing how far you can get.
There is plenty here for roguelike fans to keep trying Neon Abyss once you fall in battle. There are numerous characters to unlock with a variety of powers and stats that can change how you play. The main issue is that after a while, Neon Abyss just becomes extremely samey. It doesn’t help that it is also currently on the Nintendo Store for £15.99, which is a little steep compared to some of the other titles you can get that offer a more varied experience.
Developer: Veewo Games
Publisher: Team 17
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 14th July 2020
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Neon Abyss was provided by the publisher.