I’m quite a huge fan of both racing games and sci-fi, so when I saw a game that seemed to combine the two, I was happy to review it. However, Neon Drive, despite having you control a car, is not actually a racing game. Instead, it is a 80’s sci-fi inspired lane-based rhythm game, developed by —- and released on Steam. With it’s presentation, it was an easy mistake to make (especially with certain other kick-started 80’s arcade style racing games that have similar appearances).
Neon Drive is broken up into a series of levels with varying difficulty levels that you can unlock, like with most Rhythm games. You can do them out-of-order, if you are stuck on one specifically or are just looking for a change of pace. The aesthetics of each level look distinct and interesting. They also go along with the music, which is a great effect. The rhythm game-play takes the form of switching between a number of lanes to the beat of the music, while avoiding obstacles. The core game-play is fun, and it tends to work well.
However, there are a few problems that hurt the experience. The most major is how the lane switching feels. The car seems to just barely lag behind you inputs enough that you can still be on the beat while your car hits a wall. If the lane switching was just a little bit more responsive, this problem would have been solved. A second issue is with the obstacles. They are often both deceptively repetitive and hard to see coming, making them more frustrating than they really should be. I also feel like they don’t always follow the beat, which made me question whether the developers only changed the pattern because they felt it was otherwise too much of the same. These problems didn’t matter nearly as much as they sound in the grand scheme of things, but they did make losing a little bit more frustrating than it should have been, because I didn’t always feel like it was my fault.
The game also gets repetitive more quickly than it really should, compared to other rhythm games. Because all the game-play is essentially just switching between lanes with the arrow keys, and because this is often done in a repetitive way, I got tired of replaying levels if I couldn’t do them pretty quickly. I also didn’t feel like I had nearly as much incentive to keep playing, because I thought I’d seen most of what could be seen after playing for a relatively short amount of time. This hurts the game, overall. There really should have been a few more minor game mechanics introduced throughout the levels to keep the game interesting.
While the game-play isn’t perfect, the aesthetic is still great. The graphics are clean and crisp, which lends itself very well to the style. The colors really pop, too, and contrast very well with each other. The music is similarly very well-done and fit the game’s visual style perfectly. The beats are also prominent in the songs, which is great for a rhythm game.
Neon Drive feels like it is lacking in game-play. It makes sense why this might have happened, because it had originally been on mobile platforms, but it didn’t translate as well as it should have to PC. However, the graphics and sound did translate surprisingly well, and have a great 80’s sci-fi aesthetic to them. In the end, it is a rhythm game that fans of sci-fi or fans of rhythm games can enjoy if they can get over some of the issues the game has.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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