NeuroVoider is a twin-stick shooter/roguelike game currently in development at Flying Oak Games. Although currently short on plot, it charges the player and up to three friends with customizing and upgrading a unique robot and destroying waves upon waves of enemy robots. NeuroVoider is still well within the alpha period, and as such is missing some core content, but the base mechanics and gameplay are certainly intact.

The gameplay is currently simple, but rather effective. Upon initiating the game, you are immediately dropped into the first level with no clear direction. There are currently no story elements, just a linear progression of maps to blast through at your own discretion. Each level consists of you and your team charging through a randomly generated level packed with enemy cannon fodder, picking up loot and crystals as you go. The crystals are your means of transporting to the next stage, with each level requiring a certain amount before allowing you to teleport. The loot however, is randomly generated on pickup in a similar vain to Borderlands. Between each level, you’re allowed to customize your unit from a range of different categories including weaponry, vision, core and transport. While the latter three components primarily affect your stats including HP, movement speed and energy, they also determine you character class. Depending on your choice in components, your unit can be a Fortress, a Rampage or a Dash unit. This choice affects your primary active ability, drastically altering your playstyle. Fortress units have a shield ability befitting of their hulking stature, Rampage units get a berserk mode, offloading all of their weaponry in a short timeframe, while Dash units are indeed capable of dashing.

neurovoider-customization

At its core, NeuroVoider is a game of choice. The class you choose to play greatly affects how you approach any given situation. Perhaps more important though, is your choice in weaponry. Though the attributes and dynamics of each weapon are randomly generated, they all fit into a range of categories. Although the current range of weapon types is rather limited, there is a great deal of versatility in combat approaches, and a lot of the fun comes from experimentation. The only way to find out what a Hellfire or a Light Wrath can do is to take it into the field. You may have no idea if partnering a flamethrower with a rapid-fire rocket launcher is a good idea, but you’ll certainly have a grand time finding out. Although it would be nice to know what a weapon can do in advance, the quick setup and pick up and play nature of this game makes experimentation a fun option. In a multiplayer situation, loot belongs to the player that picks it up. Though individual pieces of equipment may be shared, this can make for a competitive atmosphere. The difficulty does ramp up significantly later on, so cooperation is in your best intention in the long run, but the competitive option is always welcome in this style of game.

Being rather early in development, NeuroVoider currently only consists of five levels and a boss stage, infinitely looping until your journey comes to an end. There’s no real variation in aesthetics and layout, but the developers have acknowledged this and are promising more varied maps in future releases. What this means for the moment is that NeuroVoider is a short, simple game. Your first loop shouldn’t take much more than half an hour, but post-loop stages are significantly longer and more difficult. Enemies become significantly more numerous and deadly, and the sprawling map layout makes each stage an arduous journey. This encourages a more defensive playstyle if you want to make it through the level, and makes experimentation a less enticing option. Bringing the wrong equipment can prove to be a fatal error in post-loop levels, and while I appreciate the challenge, it’s a shame to see it come at the expense of the previously-established flexibility in approach and guns-blazing attitude.

Befitting of its robotic theme, NeuroVoider uses a strong neon colour pallet with vibrant pinks and greens introducing a strong contrast to the dull grey mechanical surroundings. It’s an interesting effect that not only is thematically appropriate, but immediately appealing and easy to look at. The mechanical design is rather limited at this point, with only a few distinct component models to choose from. You will also see these models used for the enemy robot designs, as they also pull from randomly generated assets. The narrow pool of models does make everything seem a little samey, but being in alpha, I can see that being expanded upon. The sound design is also a work-in-progress, with sound effects constantly being revised and reworked. They currently lack the appropriate degree of punch, and some of the weapon sounds are underwhelming, but the soundtrack certainly does the job of getting the blood pumping. A steady, if somewhat repetitive techno beat underscores all of the action and adds a distinct 80s sci-fi vibe to the whole game.

Although NeuroVoider is missing a lot of the smaller touches to make it feel complete, there is a solid game at its core. The gameplay is fast and fluid and there are a number of good ideas at work. At this point, it lacks its own unique flair. It doesn’t do much to stand out from its competitors, and it has a long way to go, but there is still a lot of fun to be had here. It’s certainly more enjoyable in multiplayer, so try and round up a good group of friends to huddle around the monitor. The developers over at Flying Oak Games are releasing weekly updates and directly respond to fan inquiries, which is a healthy sign for the future of this game. It’s shaping up to be neat little roguelike game, and if you’re interested, now is as good a time as any to get on board.

For more information, check out the official website.