fri 01/07/2022

Neon Shadow | reviews, news & interviews

Neon Shadow

Neon Shadow

A simple shooter that gets the basics right

Neon Shadow: satisfying old school action

This might be the best smartphone first-person shooter (FPS) yet. It's a tricky genre to get right on a touchscreen. Above all the usual FPS considerations of 3D frame rate, varied levels and enemy AI, you need a well thought out control scheme that responds to the touch. Neon Shadow nails the latter and doesn't do too badly on the others.

Plot-wise, Neon Shadow is a dud. Something about a rogue AI on a space station. Or something. You are a Dude who must go and shoot it in the face. Standard.
Neon Shadow - old school but effective
It doesn't matter, of course. The plot is just there to justify the attacking hordes of security droids and the rather claustrophic levels. The latter are fairly bog standard sci-fi-industrial corridors and loading bays. Lots of sliding doors and translucent forcefield windows with the traditional crates and boxes scattered around as cover. Good level design renders this lack of variety largely irrelevant however and the samey environs may even be one of the factors in keeping the 3D rendering so zippy.

Your foes are a handful of different robot models. Yappy robot guard dogs are the game's basic grunt and they prove satisfyingly dogged. Not too tough but persistent and capable of swarming you if you get cornered by a group. They are aided by flying drones, Dalek-ish robots with powerful plasma cannon and pop-up (or more usually pop-down) sentry turrets.

The AI is nothing to Ansible home about but the various enemies do have some nice random elements to their movements. This means that you can't always rely on them to act the same way when replaying a level due to being killed, and your carefully thought out strategy may collapse when one of them decides to go off piste. In re-attempting one of the more frantic sections I was surprised by an "extra" drone that managed to flank me at the worst possible moment, ruining the plan of attack I had arrived at through several previous, doomed attempts. Given the formulaic nature of most shooters, these little surprises go a long way.
Neon Shadow - ouch
There are only four different weapons but each is fairly distinct and feels satisfying to use. The grenade launcher in particular works just like the one in Quake - i.e. correctly.

Control is where Neon Shadow really stands out. Everything is smooth and responsive and I rarely found myself fighting the control scheme rather than the game. Partly, this is down to the developers keeping things simple. Simply swipe around with the left thumb to move and strafe (step sideways) and use the right to look around and aim. A single fire button does the business with the help of a subtle auto-aim that gives just enough of a nudge in the right direction.

You won't come away from Neon Shadow moved, or challenged by its innovative gameplay. There are no murky character motivations to unravel or puzzles to solve. This is just well-balanced, old-school action and all the better for it.

Overleaf: Watch the trailer for Neon Shadow

This is just well-balanced, old-school action and all the better for it.


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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