November 11, 2013 1 Comment
I’m not certain if it’s a sign that I’m getting older, but there are plenty of games now where I can only play one stage or level and then need a break. It happened in Hotline Miami, a little bit in Rogue Legacy, and now again in Neurokult. I don’t feel it’s a bad thing, though—just something I don’t think I ever experienced growing up, and it feels strange. The intensity wears me out!
Neurokult is a cyberpunked-themed, fast action puzzler for iOS. Balls of three different colors stream across the screen and you must tap them to send them away before they reach the other side of the screen. In order to remove a ball of a certain color, you must tap a “selector” of sorts on the side of the screen that matches the color of the ball you want to remove. Match the color, press the ball, the ball goes away. To keep this from being too simple, the game is very fast-paced and there are bombs that roll across the screen which will cause a game over if you tap one.
I should note that I played this on my iPhone 4S and found that there were a handful of times that I fat-fingered things and hit a bomb. I don’t know this if this is much of an issue on the iPhone 5 (and later) or iPad screens.
You receive bonuses for connecting chains of matching colors. Along with getting more points, completing chains builds up your life meter, something that is there to keep you alive when you miss a ball before it reaches the opposite side of the screen.
In its current form, this game is difficult. By the end of the very first stage you’re already experiencing the above-mentioned intensity as a great number of objects fly across the screen. The feeling was quite daunting at first, and I took a few days’ break from the game after finishing some stages. While discussing some things with the developers, they stated that they are aware of this and are already in the process of creating an easy mode to help players out and keep them coming back. Until that day comes, I’ll give you the same advice that they gave to me: “Stick with it.” It is rewarding, but damn, is it hard.
The game will change up some things from time to time to catch you off guard and make you think. For example in one stage, the ball that flies across the screen will change color just before you press it, making you go back to the color selector to select a new color to be able to remove it. It gets a bit hectic, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. The above advice about sticking with it worked for me until I reached Stage 9, Kinesthesia. It causes me to have an episode of rageful fury (unlike my normal, happy fury), and ultimately it’s where I had to quit the game for the time being. The change in this level is jarring. Stage 9 is where the colors in the color selector move around. Up until this point in the game, the colors in the color selector stay in the same spot. You come to rely upon on the sense of their location without needing to look where you press (not unlike learning a keyboard). You begin this stage and press where blue had been for eight stages, only to find out that it moved to where red had been the whole time except you didn’t notice because you didn’t think to look. It continues to change at a fairly fast pace, causing you to miss the ball you were going after and letting it fly off the screen, taking away your hit points. By this point in the game, the action is so crazy and fast that it’s a very quick death as you flail about trying to match things up.
Every few stages there are some boss fights. From what I’ve seen so far, these stages boil down to the boss (a larger sprite) bouncing around the screen as you try to clear the playing field. If you touch the boss more than a few times, you lose. The boss fights can be tricky as near the end of their respective stages, they try very hard to get in your way, making for some very close calls where you have to choose between waiting for the boss to move or taking the hit to your life. Once you finish the boss fight, you get a chance to slice and dice it like crazy by sliding your finger across the screen until it dies. It’s a nice little way to relieve the stress of it getting in the way moments before. Seizure warning: The game makes use of bright, flashing white effects against a black background at this point.
Would I recommend this game? Yes. I would. Play it now and muck around with it, and if you get stuck, keep it on your device until you see the update come down that introduces the easier mode. It can be a frustrating experience here and there for now, but it is a fun game.