Review – Neon Space

Review – Neon Space

Platforms: Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Steam

Game Name: Neon Space

Publisher: KupiKey

Developer: Just 1337 Studio

Genre: Action, Adventure, Strategy

Release Date: May 12th, 2016

Neon Space – What We Think

Neon Space from developer Just 1337 Games is a deceptively simple puzzle game that requires all of your attention to navigate through basic puzzles. While the layouts of the levels may seem simplistic, the challenge comes from coordinating the controls and making sure your movements match your intentions.

The timer counts up so you can track your improvement
The timer counts up so you can track your improvement

While the game does not contain riddles for you to solve or complex mazes that need navigating, it does have a charm that may endear it to some players, and a challenge (particularly in the later levels) for those who want to master its systems.

The Allure of Being Pure

I don’t want to be as pretentious as to call it a “pure gaming experience,” but the draw of the game is most certainly the gameplay, as the presentation remains minimal to not get in the way. It feels like a toned down Hotline Miami, with soothing music instead of club bangers and object retrieval instead of killing enemies.

Neon Space looks exactly how the name would have you believe. There are neon walls set against a backdrop of the universe. The music selections are calm, sci-fi inspired tracks that can be played on loop.

Simple and soothing until you screw up once and have to start over
Simple and soothing until you screw up once and have to start over

Focus on the Game, Not All That Other Stuff

It’s not as art-heavy as many other space games that strive for the cyberpunk aesthetic, but its basic design allows you to focus on the key element to the game: the controls. For the most part, the music and visuals mesh well together, and do not interfere with your focus on controlling your character.

In a lot of ways, Neon Space is reminiscent of a platformer, aside from the fact that you’re not actually running on top of platforms. You control a small round space craft with thrusters on the front and back. You can turn your ship clockwise or counterclockwise and use a couple of tricks to help get you out of a tight space.

Point A to B with a whole mess of stuff in the middle
Point A to B with a whole mess of stuff in the middle

Simple, Yet Confusing

My biggest criticism of the overall game is the design of your ship, as it can be incredibly difficult to determine which part of your circular ship is the front and which is the back. I highly recommend playing this game on a controller as opposed to a keyboard, as the directional inputs on a keyboard-based setup do not lend themselves well to the omni-directional abilities of your avatar.

Up for forward thrust was hard to intuit, especially when it can get difficult to determine which end of your ship is forward. Since the game is based around finely timed movement, my time spent playing on the keyboard was filled with panic.

After a while, this doesn't seem like much of a challenge
After a while, this doesn’t seem like much of a challenge

A Modest Goal Warms the Soul

Despite the amount of things that I can call “simple” or “basic” about this game, there is something charming about its design. It does not have lofty ambitions to out-puzzle games like Portal, and it definitely does not try to be as beautiful as other space games such as Galak-Z: The Dimensional.

I truly mean this in the nicest way possible: Neon Space is like the knock-off game that your grandma buys for you because she doesn’t know any better. It feels like it could be a smaller game to a larger franchise, but the lack of recognizable imagery lends to its charm.

Neon Space may not be wholly original, but its modest aspirations and tight-knit adherence to its own style make this game feel like a late night snack or the perfect appetizer: it does not interfere with the enjoyment of the main course, but is refreshing in its own way.

Neon Space is available via Steam

[xrr rating=”3.5/5″]

Watch the official trailer for Neon Space below:

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