I have to admit, I love myself a roguelite. I honestly didn’t realise how much until I looked back at some of my favourite games over the past decade. They may be ten a penny now, but for good reason. They are so satisfying to play. Whilst the likes of Binding of Issac and Dead Cells stand out, there is a new pretender to the crown… Neon Abyss.
It is a mighty claim, but one I feel Neon Abyss can live up to. There is something about the game that feels so good to play. It controls well and has some really neat concepts that blend together in a way that pushes the game to be at its best.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect with Neon Abyss as the promotional art was stunning and it looked very much the sort of game I love, both in style (retro pixel graphics for the win!) and gameplay. However I don’t think I was quite ready for what I played.
I mentioned Binding of Issac previously, because there are some very obvious influences from Ed McMillen’s masterpiece. Progressing through each levels allows you to find and utilise a number of weapons and powerups, both active and passive, which in turn allows you to create some cray builds.
You’ll get a run where you are completely overpowered, or another where you are always fighting to just stay alive. Grabbing eggs as you go, which hatch the further you get and stack abilities on top of abilities and see you with synergy that will be off the scale.
Now, don’t dismiss Neon Abyss as a simple Issac clone, because it is far from that. Yes the influences are there and if you’ve played Issac you’ll feel at home. You are soon over that, as what you have here is a game that stands out as potentially one of the roguelite greats.
A mechanic I like is there permanent progression system, which doesn’t change your own abilities as such, more the way the game itself plays. Neon Abyss constantly grows the more you play and the more you unlock in the hub world’s skill trees.
Instead of trying to change things up on the fly, you get a bit of control and it really does keep you on your toes and the gameplay loop feeling fresh. The core controls and goals are the same, but the added mechanics you can patch in really add something to the overall game. I don’t think it can be overstated how good this works and you’ll love discovering everything for yourself.
There is a slight lack of variation across the game’s levels in terms of visuals, but I don’t think that actually bothered me at all. It feels coherent and allows me to completely concentrate on playing and not adjusting to different locales. Others may disagree, but I was happy with the well designed limited scope here.
The other thing that was a bit lacking were the midbosses in the game. I felt they were all a bit samey, in terms of how you’d play against them. Which in the end made them feel more like the base enemies you’d encounter in normal rooms. Less of an event and just something to spend a little longer on. It’s not something that ruins the experience, I just would have preferred more variation.
What is really easy to praise though is another game that doesn’t make you feel bad for not being able to play on the hardest difficulties. As I get older, I get less time to dedicate to individual games and master them completely. So when a game mocks me for not being good enough, or gates content, it never sits right with me. Neon Abyss, from what I could tell allowed me to enjoy the game fully in easy, normal and hard modes without any obvious punishment. Kudos to the developers for that one.
I’ve played a decent amount of Neon Abyss and the game continues to throw new things at me, via mechanics, new synergies and such. It just works really well as Veewo games understand what makes a good rogueite. Nailing the core gameplay loop is golden, do that and fit everything else around it.
It is why the likes of Binding of Issac, Slay the Spire, Dead Cells and Spelunky stand out from the crowd and also stand the test of time. Neon Abyss has muscled its way into some esteemed company and is fully deserving of its place.