Neon Blight, developed by Bleeding Tapes and published by Freedom Games, is a 2D cyberpunk store management action adventure shooter with roguelite elements.

I was enticed by the story of a retired cop-turned-gun runner traversing a plagued landscape to undo a larger conspiracy set in motion 15 years ago. Quest progression developed the narrative in the present while boss fights filled in missing context with flashbacks of that fateful night 15 years prior. The phrase “neon blight” perfectly encapsulated the colorful attitude of the game, glowing steadily amidst a much darker afflicted environment, so I was incredibly disappointed when the narrative abruptly stopped early into the game. Either it was bugged, or it hadn’t been fully implemented yet. The combat, inspired by Enter the Gungeon, delivered the same satisfying smooth, responsive shooting and dodging I had come to love, complete with punchy pixel sound effects. The environmental ambience suited the neon-noir feel, but there wasn’t enough happening elsewhere to prevent the audio from turning into monotonous static in my ears.

The game description said I could “sell hundreds of upgradeable guns.” I think it referred to the amount of guns I could sell and not the variety of weapons the game actually had. Perhaps the upgrades would spice up the combat, but they were either bugged or missing from my playthrough. I could easily outrange and outrun all of the normal hazards and some of the bosses. Other bosses were interesting but trivialized by the superior tactic of hiding behind cover. The rest of the boss encounters were located further beyond a winding path of handcrafted areas completely devoid of any excitement other than random bugs and crashes undoing my efforts. Unfortunately, the busy beginning zone layout that piqued my interest at the start of the game would also be the peak of my interest for the entire game.

Neon Blight repeatedly stepped on its own toes. I was meant to scout ahead, grab guns, and return to sell them at my shop once I felt it was too dangerous to risk my inventory, but I never felt it was worth returning to the shop. I essentially picked up my own supplies for free, and they rarely sold well above the determined market price. Money had little use beyond paying for toll booths, which themselves felt like a convoluted reason to have a store to begin with. I could kill myself and revive with full health next to the same doctor who otherwise would’ve charged me for healing. I could then sell the gun I was revived with, which sold better than most weapons and was faster than going on gun runs. It became more and more difficult to remain engaged in the larger systems.

The lack of difficulty, lack of variety, scarce randomized loot, full loss of inventory, and tedious treks all in the name of “replayability” made me feel as if the roguelite elements did the game more harm than good. Ultimately, while I was let down, I remain hopeful that eventually the rest of the game is finished and polished enough to match the strength of the initial premise.

If you’re looking for a game promising to fit snugly between Enter the Gungeon and Moonlighter, then Neon Blight is available July 11 on Steam and the Epic Games Store for $19.99, with a discount at launch.

Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Neon Blight.

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