Neon Chrome is a top-down shooter game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 and PS Vita with compatibility for PlayStation TV. Neon Chrome is developed by 10Tons; the same developer who created the amazing Crimsonland, therefore the two major questions leading into Neon Chrome is if it maintains the quality of Crimsonland or if it actually improves upon it and if the Vita version of Neon Chrome can surpass that of the earlier PS4 release.
The story revolves around a rebellion against Neon Corp who house anywhere from hundreds of thousands through to a million people in giant megastructures known as arcologies. If anyone is deemed untrustworthy then they will be detained against their own will and with the lead character being found in this position within one of the largest arcologies on Earth called Neon Chrome; the only way to overcome the predicament is to take down the Overseer and the countless enemies that guard him.
The character design is rather varied as characters are referred to as assets as your character is sitting in an immersion chair in full control over an asset with different assets effectively having their own loadouts including a specific weapon to begin with, unique abilities and enhancements such as Collene Deckard classed as an Assassin with a 20% increase in critical shots to enemies and a 10% increase in speed who also has a Nanofiber Shadow Skin which makes the assassin practically invisible when in shadow as well as being equipped with a burst rifle and a laser pulse.
The enemy design includes guards with varying amounts of armour, weaponry and routines, mechanised spiders, flying drones, turrets and more besides with guards showing up in the middle of some levels to provide enemy reinforcements, while enemy boss fights include a larger spider bot, a centipede, a hover tank and more besides.
The environment design comprises of procedurally generated environments resulting in no two levels being exactly the same which is set within a city that has a Blade Runner esque stylised futuristic neon look to it which you can catch a glimpse of when nearby to an outer wall as rain falls amidst seemingly endless skyscrapers. Certain surfaces of the interior such as thinner walls, glass and debris can be destroyed with multiple melee attacks or shooting at them, although keys are required to open some doors such as red keys that are needed for progression on the path taken to the end of the level at the green elevator, while there are also yellow keys that will often lead to a special level through a purple elevator situated somewhere else in the level.
In-game currency can be earned by destroying enemies and looting a variety of crates and chambers situated throughout every level that also contain weaponry, abilities, enhancements and upgrades which is incredibly important to increasing your chances of surviving until the end of each level, therefore providing a better offence when attacking enemies and defence when being attacked by enemies.
Upgrades are available for five separate categories including health, damage, luck, energy and slots with 100 levels worth of progression on all of the upgrade categories other than the slots category which has 10 levels of progress. Health upgrades increase the maximum amount of health, while damage increases the amount of damage you are capable of inflicting on enemies; luck improves the possibility of critical hits on enemies, increases the amount of credits looted and makes rarer loot easier to find; energy provides the required fuel to utilise abilities; and slots increases the amount of cybernetic enhancement slots available in order to install more enhancements. Improvements in statistics made by each upgrade are important to the balancing of the gameplay as the onslaught of enemies naturally increases throughout the game, therefore upgrades may not necessarily be required initially, but will absolutely be essential in later levels. Upgrade qualities mostly remain the same within each respective upgrade category, although the cost of each upgrade varies for every upgrade level such as the first health upgrade improving health statistics by 8 from 160 to 168 costing 200 credits with the second upgrade having the same amount of improvement but costing 280 credits, while the first damage improvement is 5% costing 200 credits with the second improvement being the same increase for 300 credits.
There are 26 weapons that must be unlocked by finding them within specific chapters which also unlocks weaponry for immediate use from that point onwards via purchases starting from 300 credits per weapon. Weapons have their own attributes such as a rate of fire, range, damage and accuracy including a submachine gun, an assault rifle, a burst rifle, a shotgun, an ion shotgun, a laser submachine gun, a laser assault rifle, a laser burst rifle, a grenade launcher and much more besides.
There are 16 abilities that have to be unlocked by finding them within certain chapters followed by being unlocked for immediate use from that point onwards via purchases starting from 300 credits per ability. Abilities can be equipped such as micro missiles that are capable of locking onto enemies, a laser pulse which shoots hi-intensity laser beams in all directions, blast grenades that produce a large blast radius, a grenade launcher that is capable of bouncing grenades off walls and many more abilities.
There are 49 enhancements that are unlocked by finding them within particular chapters which also unlocks enhancements for immediate use from that point onwards via purchases starting from 300 credits per enhancement. Enhancements can be equipped to the specific amount of slots that have been unlocked from the slots upgrade category with enhancements including NanoEdge SkinWeave which provides Nanites that produce a reinforced mesh into the skin of your character resulting in a 20% increase in health, an Omnitech Personal Guard which automatically zaps three nearby enemies with bolts of electricity, Chiphow AmmoArt increases the clip size of weaponry by 50% which conveniently reduces the likelihood of running out of ammo when surrounded by enemies, Duramax Bone Lacing provides a simultaneous 15% increase in health and a titanium-reinforced knee to the face with a 50% increase in melee damage and many more enhancements.
Neon Chrome supports cross-buy between the PS4 and Vita. Cross-buy presents a superb amount of value as it means that you will be purchasing the PS4 and Vita versions of the game with just a single purchase, although there is no cross-save functionality; resulting in players not being able to continue from their levelled up character progression contained within the previously released PS4 version.
The controls are appropriately optimised for the Vita with the control scheme consisting of pressing R to shoot; pressing L to use an ability; pressing O to reload; pressing X to use an item or object; pressing square to perform a melee attack; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move your character; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to aim your weapon; and pressing start to display the pause menu. There is no touch screen or rear touch pad controls which is surprising as 10Tons’ Crimsonland previously featured the touch screen as an accurate alternative to pressing R to fire and the right analogue stick for aiming.
Graphically, Neon Chrome retains the frantic action set upon procedurally generated destructible environments with imaginative weaponry and abilities producing spectacular effects. However, the Vita version has had some graphical downgrades in comparison to the PS4 release as the textures are not as crisp and there are some frame-rate drops that occur during a higher than usual amount of enemies, firing and explosions. The quality of Neon Chrome on Vita can still be appreciated in its own right and if you have never played the PS4 version before then you will not notice the reduction in texturing as much. Neon Chrome supports PS4 Pro enhancements including the procedurally generated destructible environments in sensational 4K native resolution at 60 frames-per-second.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great touch screen based user interface across various menus such as the main menu, level selection menu, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left and right analogue sticks, directional pad and face buttons. The background of the menu screens consists of a character with a weapon as the Overseer sits in the immersion chair as a huge city can be seen as far as the horizon with gigantic towering structures, while the title logo of the game is positioned centrally at the top of the screen as a neon sign. Leaving the game inactive for a few moments will provide a variety of gameplay demos showcasing different environments, weapons and enemies.
Audio consists of voice-overs for the lead villain and guards insisting your character stops what they are doing, while sound effects include collecting energy and credits, shooting at enemies, reloading, melee attacking enemies, enemies firing at your character, explosions and more besides. Voice-overs and sound effects are perfectly complimented by award-winning composer Jonathan Geer who delivers a thrilling, futuristic sci-fi soundtrack that is pulsating yet simultaneously thought provoking as it is reminiscent of a fusion between Blade Runner and the grander scale of Total Recall.
The trophy list includes 14 trophies with 9 bronze trophies and 5 silver trophies. The easiest trophy has to be the Hard Work bronze trophy for killing 1,000 enemies due to the progressive accumulation from every level, while harder trophies include the Sneaky silver trophy for completing a level without being seen; the Stat Master silver trophy for upgrading a stat to level 100; and the Unlocker silver trophy for unlocking all unlockables. A special mention has to go to the rather appropriately titled You’ve Just Been Erased bronze trophy for killing 3 enemies with a single railgun bullet as the name of the trophy rather cleverly references dialogue from the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Eraser in which a railgun has been created. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 15 to 25 hours to 100% the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although the gameplay is deliberately punishing resulting in players having to seriously upgrade their character’s stats and improve their weaponry, abilities and enhancements before standing a chance of survival against the many enemies situated within each level. Gameplay still remains at a hard difficulty as randomly generated levels will surprise players by making it impossible to memorise a specific path to the end of any level.
The cross-buy PS4 version provides local co-operative multiplayer for 2 to 4 players, although every player participating has to remain fairly close to each other as every player is restricted to the confines of the screen instead of starting on the same screen and moving to a dynamic split-screen in the scenario of being on opposite sides of the level, while the second player must share the same statistics rather than upgrading statistics independently.
However, there is no form of multiplayer on the Vita release of Neon Chrome, although multiplayer functionality would have perhaps been possible via ad-hoc multiplayer with another Vita or PlayStation TV, cross-play as part of the 4 player local co-operative multiplayer on PS4 or online multiplayer.
I would have liked to have seen some form of competitive multiplayer from the PS4 version that would have included such game modes as deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag and king of the hill, amongst other game modes, while set on the full-scale destructible environments found within each of the procedurally generated environments from the single player and co-op modes with the progressive upgrades system, customisable loadout and support for two to four players. I would also have liked to see the local co-operative multiplayer be available in the form of online co-operative multiplayer; just to provide that customary freedom for players to be able to play the single player experience locally with up to three friends or online with up to three friends and perhaps even in single player with the option of the game being open for anyone from your friends’ list or globally to join in co-operatively to help each other past a difficult area of the game.
There are no online leaderboards which is surprising as they could have included leaderboards for the amount of enemies killed and the accumulation of credits as well as the amount of levels completed in total and the highest amount of levels completed in a single run.
The replayability for the Vita release of Neon Chrome stems from important areas of gameplay such as the procedurally generated destructible environments, an incredibly in-depth upgrades system as well as a plethora of weapons, abilities and enhancements that is pivotal to the balancing of gameplay in regards to your character or your surrounding enemies having the upper hand, while the cross-buy PS4 version also brings local co-operative multiplayer for 2 to 4 players which are all features that will collectively have players returning for quite some time on both Vita and PS4.
• Title: Neon Chrome
• Developer: 10Tons
• Publisher: 10Tons
• System: PS Vita, PlayStation TV and PS4
• Format: PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: Yes (PS Vita, PlayStation TV and PS4)
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1 (PS Vita)/1-4 (Local Co-operative Multiplayer on PS4)
• Memory Card Space Required: 141MB