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Neurovoider review for PS Vita, PS4, Xbox One, Switch


Platform: PS Vita
Also On: Switch, PS4, PC, Xbox One
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Developer: Flying Oak Games
Medium: Digital
Players: Vita: 1; Others: 1-4
Online: No
ESRB: E

A sign that the game you’re playing has a top-notch score: when someone else in the room asks you to keep playing, just so they can listen to the music.

Yes, Neurovoider’s soundtrack — which is otherwise known as The Wrath of Code, by Dan Terminus — really is that good. I was playing the game on my couch while my wife scrolled through her Instagram, and when I stopped playing, her response was, “Awww, why’d you turn that off?” (which, I’ll add, is something she’s literally never said before in the many years I’ve played video games in her general vicinity).

And honestly, it’s hard to blame her. The Wrath of Code, as filtered through Neurovoider, is one heck of an album. It’s all icy synths and retro vibes, with a sound that simultaneously brings to mind the ‘80s and a sci-fi-infused vision of the future. If the album weren’t free to download on Bandcamp, I’d say it was single-handedly good enough to make this game worth picking up.

Of course, the fact The Wrath of Code is free to download (have I mentioned that already?), and can be enjoyed entirely separately from Neurovoider, complicates things. Don’t get me wrong: Neurovoider is fine. If you’re in the mood for a roguelite twin-stick shooter that feels like it could’ve come out on the NES or the SNES, it will totally scratch that itch. But the gulf between Neurovoider (the game) and Neurovoider (the method through which you can listen to The Wrath of Code) is pretty vast.

Setting aside its exceptional score, as I said, Neurovoider is a fairly solid game, albeit one that will likely only appeal to you if the words “roguelite, “permadeath”, and “upgradeable mechs” hit your brain’s gaming pleasure centres. Further, you better be prepared for a challenge: as you’d expect from the fact that “permadeath” is a feature, it should surprise no one that this is a pretty tough game.

It balances that toughness with some heavy firepower. You can equip your mechs (which seems like the best descriptor, seeing as you’re playing as a brain piloting a giant metal suit) with all manner of rocket launchers and grenades and guns and ammo. Aiming said rockets and whatnot can be a bit of a challenge, mind you, since the game demands that you keep moving around the screen unless you want your enemies to swarm you and hit you with weapons of their own. But, provided you’re nimble enough, it’s a bit of a blast (pun not intended, but I’m keeping it anyway) to blow enemy robots away, level after level, all the while knowing that a “Game Over” screen lurks around every corner.

Still, there’s little in Neurovoider that you wouldn’t be able to get in most other twin-stick shooters…except, of course, for that fantastic soundtrack. If scores were everything, we’d be talking about an all-time classic game. Instead, it’s really more of a niche game, with a soundtrack that you need to go download right this second.

Plug In Digital provided us with a Neurovoider PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: B