Neonwall

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“Neonwall” is something akin to a platformer, and something akin to an endless runner.  It’s neon aesthetic provides the game with a virtual, cybernetic theme that works well with the fast paced electronic music accompanying the levels.  It is one of several PSVR games that can be played flat, as evidenced by iterations present on the Switch, but I can’t imagine how that would work. “Neonwall” needs VR because it’s gameplay is at its best when it requires the forethought, precision, and timing that only three-dimensional presence can provide.    

 

Quick Notes:

Genre: Platformer

Controller: Moves (Recommended)/Dual Shock

Price: $9.99

Length: ~6 hours


PlayPSVR Score:  7.0 out of 10.



It’s gameplay consists of an automatically rolling ball whose color I had the power to change.  What is simple in concept quickly becomes complicated in execution, as the elements of a level depend on your neon ball’s color.  For example, if my ball is red, and the platform beneath it is green, my ball will move slowly. However, if the color of my ball and the color of my floor match, then my ball will move quickly.  If my ball matches the color of a “bridge,” it will happily cross it. Otherwise it falls to its death.  If my ball matches the color of the spring, my ball will jump. These interactions in and of themselves are not complicated, but when I was rolling along the neon wall with my neon ball, I found myself looking ahead to the elements to come, preparing myself to time my actions, plan my moves, and prepare for some quick thinking.  Adding in elements such as color-matched barriers to be shot or manipulated required more preparation and strategy.  Not only did I now need to know what color the ball was and needed to be, I also had to keep mental track of which color each of my hands were and were going to be as well.   

 

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That’s why I need this game to be in VR.  In a flat version of the game, I wouldn’t be able to turn and look at the platforms and elements I was approaching.  And zooming out to show an entire level would eliminate the engagement with the aesthetics and atmosphere of the game.  This is seen in many games that are played in both flat and VR versions.  Flat “Thumper” lacked both the ability to judge distance and the oppressive nature of the game’s atmosphere.  

This is what’s exciting about a game that looks so simple.  The constant mental juggling of the colors on the ball and in my hands kept me engaged, with the electronic music pumping, and the perfect learning curve and difficulty level made me want to keep trying again and again rather than rage-quit out of frustration.  This is the secret sauce of challenge platformers.

 

Like a dangerous bag of candy, the desire for “just one more try” combined with a wealth of over 50 levels led me to play the game much longer than I expected.  And the engaging, fast-paced, and varied platforming action kept me entertained the whole time.

PlayPSVR Score: 7.0 out of 10.

Alex PegramComment