Top-Down Roguelike Neon Chrome Blasts Onto Steam

Neon Chrome [official site] is a game that’s sure of two things: what it is and who it hopes to entertain. It’s a top-down roguelike shooter, you see, that asks you to run frantically around procedurally generated battlegrounds, blast waves of baddies until they stop moving/explode/both, and climb a hierarchy of levels before facing off against a grand final boss. If you don’t like games of this nature, for there are a lot of them, then you probably won’t like like this one. If you do, however, then I think you will like Neon Chrome. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played.

Story-wise, you fill the shoes of an outlawed hacker living in the eponymous megacity Neon Chrome. Deemed untrustworthy by The Man, you’ve been apprehended, strapped to a Total Recall-esque chair, and forced to control “assets” – dispensable mercenaries who harness a range of special abilities, weapons and unique attacks – as you strive for freedom. Dictating their actions remotely, you’ve been tasked with guiding these guns-for-hire up through the dozens of floors that comprise the Neon Corp skyscraper within which you now reside, with the ultimate aim of toppling the Overseer who rules from the top.

In practice, that looks a bit like this:

As is most clear there, Neon Chrome is all about fighting fire with firepower. Be that shotguns, SMGs, mini-rocket launchers, grenades, or assault rifles – clearing each floor of humans and automatons by any means possible is your lone priority, and how you choose to do so is by and large irrelevant. In the hour or so I spent messing around in its multiple murder zones, I spent the first quarter of an hour or so dying. And dying and dying and dying. Yet the game’s permanent upgrade system helped me raise my damage and HP stats to the point where I was better capable and eventually able to get out of that floor alive.

While this was challenging, it was great fun and with something to work towards I enjoyed learning how to best harness my abilities, how to fell certain enemies, and how to consistently grow my stats as I went.

It’s worth noting, though, that grinding appears to be central to the game’s progression. Although procedurally generated levels help to reduce familiarity somewhat, I do worry things could get stale in later levels. That said, destructible environments; a catchy ’80s techno soundtrack, a la Far Cry Blood Dragon; and variations in the game’s five different classes kept me more than entertained; all of which should help keep things fresh long-term.

If you that sounds like fun, Neon Chrome is out now on Steam for the discounted price of £9.89/$13.49.


  1. golochuk says:

    If you have to specify that the roguelike is top-down, it’s not a roguelike.

    • Catterbatter says:

      Or if grinding is possible. But the term “roguelike” doesn’t seem to mean anything anymore. Is there anything this game has in common with Dark Souls? Can we call it souls-like?

      • Viral Frog says:

        Roguelike is now slang for procedurally generated game, with permanent death. Those are the two qualifying factors for a game to be considered a roguelike, by today’s standards.

        As has always been, the English language continues to evolve. The term roguelike was not immune to the tides of change.

        • Viral Frog says:

          Gonna fix a mistake here.

          “Those are _apparently_ the two qualifying factors for a game to be considered a roguelike, by today’s standards.”

        • Catterbatter says:

          But it doesn’t have permadeath!

          • trjp says:

            Permadeath is another term which has changed over-time and indeed which is malleable even now.

            Traditionally, it referred to how ALL VIDEO GAMES used-to-be – when you died you started from scratch as-if you’d never played the game before – with the additional caveat that permadeath games tended to have no ‘lives’ system – e.g. death was death

            It’s 2016 now and few people want a video game which offers no progress at all (even shmups and fighting games have mostly abandoned that model) so the term now tends just to talk about “no lives” e.g. any death is final (Hardcore mode, essentially)

        • TillEulenspiegel says:

          The term has “evolved” into something that is almost, but not quite, entirely devoid of meaning. It communicates extremely little information, far less than a proper genre label usually does.

          I don’t mind change. I do mind when nobody’s able to understand what the hell the other person is talking about.

          • RobF says:

            Yep. It’s just this pointless honking sound of a filler word that tells me nothing about what the game is or what it entails. See also it’s even dafter cousin, Roguelite.

          • Enkidum says:

            Procedurally generated with permadeath are not meaningless.

      • Hedgeclipper says:

        Maybe a Dark-lite?

    • trjp says:

      When you grow-up you’re gonna be really depressed when you realise that language is malleable and that terminology changes (and indeed, is invented constantly)

      You’ll be like that guy in the local pub who says electric guitars/synthesisers/sampling/rap ruined music – you don’t want to be him.

      • golochuk says:

        Language evolves, but there are a lot of failures along the way. I don’t think using “roguelike” to mean “we used procedurally generated content and permadeath to compensate for our limited budget” is going to endure very well. These features alone will eventually be commonplace and unlabelled, like the “RPG elements” that used to denote a small degree of character customization. But purists aren’t going to stop using the word, so we’ll win by default after the current fad dies out.

      • Edgewise says:

        When he “grows up?” That seemed really necessary.

        • LW says:

          It seems fair to get a bit shirty when the “excuse me, your words are wrong” bit shows up on every article.

          Roguelike now usually means permadeath (but often with unlocks) and procedural generation. The definition isn’t going to revert if you comment hard enough.

        • trjp says:

          They don’t sound grizzed enough to be the guy complaining about how “everything is shit nowadays” – at least not yet – so I gave em the benefit of the doubt ;0

          No point resisting change, it’s inevitable – King Canute tried to show people that even he couldn’t stop the tide and yet people have assumed for centuries he was an asshole who thought he could – that must be REALLY annoying…

          • Catterbatter says:

            Fair enough. If nothing else, I think we can agree that Devil Daggers is a robotronlike.

    • Spakkenkhrist says:

      Came to see if anyone was being a pedant about “roguelike”, congrats.

    • AngoraFish says:

      Doesn’t seem to be a roguelike (or event rogue-lite) on almost any conceivable measure I can see, unless the term roguelike has now evolved through the evolutionary processes of the English language to have simply come to be another word for “game”.

  2. trjp says:

    I’m liking the look of this – destructible walls are cool and it’s from the developers of Crimsonland which bodes pretty well??

    • Urthman says:

      Whoa, talk about burying the lead, Joe. A new top down shooter from the makers of Crimsonland?! That tells me way more than this stupid argument about the word “roguelike.” Crimsonland rules. I’ll definitely give this a try.

      • Edgewise says:

        Totally agreeing about burying the lede. Crimsonland was the ultimate Steam download before there was Steam. Speaking of which, I just checked, and Crimsonland is available on Steam. However, even though the game is awesome and was ahead of its time, $14 seems like a ridiculous price for a game that was freely downloadable in 2003.

    • Memph says:

      If you like twin-stick shooters, it is the shit, believe me.

      It’s kinda like Teleglitch, but with Rogue Legacy’s permanent progression system. And not quite as brutal as either. I made it to the second floor before getting a 14th clone killed.

  3. secuda says:

    €14,99 regular price.
    €13,49 10% discount

  4. caff says:

    Weird, I was looking for a game “like Nuclear Throne or Enter the Dungeon” this afternoon and then this pops up… trying now.

  5. jimjim19681968 says:

    Crimsonland is the game I play more than any other. Survival mode is my shooter fix. I snapped up Neon Chrome immediately.

  6. Ericusson says:

    The upgrading system is nice though grindy indeed.
    The only thing that feels a bit weird is the graphics which though stylish, kinda lack polygons or something ?
    I swear Space Marshals on iOS kinda feels more detailed (a must try by the way if you have an iOS device).
    Also the aiming with a pad is kinda sensitive.

    Good times though.

  7. El_MUERkO says:

    i love that games are doing local multiplayer but online would be nice for those of us whose friends are not local :(

  8. haldolium says:

    Very entertaining. It delivers on a wide array of rewards, last but not least with a great moment-to-moment gameplay that for a change doesn’t give you a continous stream of arbitrary XP shit but rewards you for simply playing good/entertaining.

    Great topdown shooter. Reminds me a lot of the fun I had with Shadowgrounds years ago (over a decade already? Damn thats a long time…)

    • Cederic says:

      Top down ‘just shoot stuff’ doesn’t appeal to me – I lack the reactions or the time to learn a system/mechanics these days.

      Shadowgrounds however was fun and playable. So if this is more akin to Shadowgrounds than the commentary above implies, I could be very tempted – the aesthetic definitely works, it’s all down to whether the gameplay will keep me engaged long enough to see it.

      • haldolium says:

        It’s not exactly like Shadowgrounds, mainly because it’s based on random levels and has no dodge function. The latter ends up making you back off sometimes, Serious Sam like. Abilities work a bit different and there is a basic class system involved.

        But the general flow, the precision and the audio-visual feedback as well as some weaponary like the rail gun has quite the similarities.

        To me, the gameplay itself was satisfying enough to have played it all weekend, when I just wanted to take a look because cyberpunk. It feels very polished in terms of proper camera, controls and game mechanics.

        The destructible walls actually do add more value as a mere visual one, since you do extra criticals shooting enemies from behind who haven’t yet noticed you.

        I would recommend it based upon these factors rather then trying to make it fit into some meaningless definitions as “roguelite” or whatever. It’s a great topdown shooter with random levels and a fair “checkpoint” system after each boss, so you don’t have to start over the entire game if you’ve beaten a stage.