I've only cleared the first dungeon floor in Neon Abyss and I'm already bulked up with more stacked abilities than I can remember. I can shoot multi-coloured lasers from my gun. I have a hip flask that amps up my weapon damage, a pint of beer that increases my health, a hardhat that improves my strength, a backpack that makes bombs more powerful, and a whole squad of weird floating pets that attack enemies and grant me special powers. It's amazing that I can fit all this stuff on my person, but that's videogame magic for you.
Every item and ability you find in Neon Abyss adds on to your already massive pile of powers. It's a fun twist on the run 'n' gun action roguelike where instead of carefully juggling between powers, it lets you keep them all like a pick n mix of different abilities for you to devour. It's all about building your arsenal of weapons and items to create limitless combinations, and after playing an early access build of the action platformer, these unlimited synergies certainly make it more fun.
You play as a member of the Grim Squad, a task force set up by Hades to take out the New Gods that lie in the dungeons of the Abyss. Each dungeon is procedurally generated and is made up of a handful of different interconnected rooms. After running through guns blazing, you'll be darting all over the map using the teleportation stones to return to locations with locked chests or going back to previously sealed rooms. Each level has a mini-boss that lets you progress, but finding all the items locked away gives you more crazy buffs.
Combat is frantically messy and all your abilities combine together to create an explosive brawl. You begin your crawl with a standard gun but you're able to quickly gear up during the first level. Every dungeon has a random set of weapons and objects you can find but there's also a shop on each level with special items. If you're wearing a helmet and you find another one, the first will go into your inventory and you'll still get the buff.
If that wasn't enough, you can also collect weird eggs that fly behind you as you play. They do nothing at first but will eventually hatch into floating pets that follow you around, granting you even more powers. The longer you stay alive, the more powerful they become and I grew very attached to mine, especially when they unleashed their wrath on a flying eyeball that was attacking me.
These floating pets would feel a little weird in other dungeon crawlers but they fit well into Neon Abyss's strange world. Its vaporwave vibe feels very similar to Hotline Miami, its religious iconography mixing with neon graffiti. The mini-bosses you fight range from weird smiling clowns that look like Ronald McDonald to creepy anthropomorphic plushies with their stuffing bursting from the seams. I really dig the art style, but I wish the same uncanniness was also reflected in the way the smaller enemies attack, which are all just slightly different variations of glowing orbs.
Lots of features had been closed off for Neon Abyss' early build demo, but they show what's yet to come. There are menus of unlockable rooms, bosses, and special rules that let you customise your dungeon crawl. I can't wait to see what other gods lie within the realms of the Abyss and it looks like I won't have to wait long. Team17 and Veewo Games are releasing Neon Abyss on July 14.