Dust & Neon is a twin-stick, action shooter with rogue-lite mechanics. It’s David Marquardt Studios’ first title and published by Rogue Games, Inc. The main themes are wild west mixed with a futuristic style setting, where you take the role of a reanimated corpse only known as Gunslinger, whose main task is to hunt down evil robots. You can pick this up on Steam and Switch for £24.99
It’s a Robo Round-up
I am a sucker for playing a character with cybernetic enhancements, which drew my attention to Dust & Neon. Levelling up your Gun slinger with various upgrades, weapons, and killing robots; mix that all together and sprinkle in a bit of rogue-lite and that gave me more than enough reason to check this game out.
You start in Exile Keep which serves as your HQ and is owned by Dr Finkel. He’s a mad scientist who tasks you with hunting down the robot bandit leaders. When you leave you come to a map that’s divided into four areas. With missions that pop up with different colours relevant to the difficult. Green – easy, orange – normal, and red – hard. Most missions will task you to kill several targets or destroy oil canisters. With are two additional missions, a train heist and sabotaging a facility. These will require you to clear the area and destroy the factory.
During levels, you may find chests that have a chance to hold one of three weapons (pistol, shotgun, and sniper). There are different rarities available, with legendary being the highest. After finishing a level you’ll gain experience. Once you have enough experience points to level up you’ll earn skill points that can be used between two skill trees. One focuses on your offensive skills like damage buffs, and the other provides defensive ones like more health.
After you have reached a certain level milestone you can finally face off against the boss. Each one has a different way of fighting like Bam Bam, who will shoot at you whilst barraging you with explosives. Prototype 41 on the other hand surrounds himself with protective orbs and fires homing shots. Defeating the boss will unlock a new zone and then you repeat the cycle of levelling up to face the next one, they do show back up after a while on the map and return stronger.
As you progress slowly you will come across blueprints that unlock the few shops at your disposal. You can buy guns from the clerk Iron Hand who will sell you guns that change after each mission, or buy a tonic from Dr. Joe’s Snake Oil stand that gives you buffs like increased reloading speed or dodging faster. The main two currencies in the game are cash and robot cores. Cores are primarily used to level up the HQ which then allows you to buy back guns you lost on death or help you find rarer weapons in each level. Cash is mainly used to buy weapons, and tonics and open the occasional door found through missions that may have loot chests.
One of the cool features of Dust & Neon is that when you unload your rounds you have to manually put each bullet back. I thought this would be tedious but it makes me feel like I am using a revolver, and you can fill them up just as fast as you can press the reloading button!
Graphics and Audio
Dust & Neon needs to add a few more tracks for level music as it gets mind-numbing after a while with the same (what feels like) forty-second clip playing on a loop, maybe adding a unique theme to each boss as well as each mission. The train heist music seems too calm for something I feel should be faster-paced. A jingle as well to the shops would give it that little taste of originality.
Most of the time I kept running through the same map layouts, the colours did not really stand out which would not be an issue except it makes most of the levels feel the same. They do use neon colours however to help the player. This is shown with the neon orange, blue, etc for chests and green doors that are accessible for you to explore.
As it is a rogue-lite you can keep playing even after defeating the bosses as they return a couple of times after the initial fight but then disappear forever after beating them an additional three times, so unless you want to grind until your gun slinger has filled up both skill trees, sadly Dust & Neon doesn’t have a lot in terms of content. You can probably finish this and get what you want out of it in about seven hours or so.
Dust & Neon has a few key mechanics that shine but I believe asking £24.99 is a bit steep. Most shops are pointless and I never bought anything as I found most of my weapons during missions. To top it off shops are expensive in the game, even though you can upgrade the HQ to lower it. The enemies you face do get a bit too repetitive after a while.
I feel like It needs to add a lot more free content before it can justify the price tag, but with some love and time, this can grow to be something better with what it has already laid down as a foundation for a great game. I award Dust & Neon the Thumb Culture Bronze Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.