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Dust & Neon (Nintendo Switch) Review

As a dear friend once said to me ( yesterday) sometimes it’s good to try a genre you traditionally would expand those horizons a little. Once you try out a genre you either find out that it’s for you or it isn’t but at least you know. After giving Dust & Neon a fair try, I have learned that twin-stick shooter games can be very tough and it’s not the genre for me. 

STORY:

In a wild west apocalyptic world, you play as Gunslinger a revived bounty hunter from the past who’s mission is to cleanse the world of all robots as ordered by Mad Scientist Dr. Finkle (that’s the best name for him!) Can you fulfill your life’s purpose?

GAMEPLAY:

Dust & Neon is a twin-stick shooter which means you press two buttons at once-in this case you press the ZL button to aim your weapon while the ZR button is used to shoot at enemies. The caveat here is that you have to always aim and shoot at enemies when you are standing still. If you shoot and aim at enemies while moving your accuracy will be affected and not in a good way. I understand that it does make Dust & Neon more strategic and players are expected to use the lay of the land to their advantage by making use of explosive barrels to destroy groups of enemies and stacked crates to use as barricades to protect against incoming enemy fire, but I still wish the shooting mechanics in Dust & Neon wasn’t punishing to players who have adjusted their difficulty to easy, and be more welcoming to new players who haven’t experienced a twin-stick shooter before like myself. 

While Dust & Neon isn’t designed to be a BREEZE, I feel players who adjust the game difficulty to easy mode shouldn’t be forced to still deal with huge level spikes. In addition to setting the game to easy mode, I also turned on the following  gameplay options (screenshot below) in hopes that it would give me moments of reprieve while I was trying to learn the ropes, and considering that didn’t happen, I put the game down for a few days to see if it would’ve made a difference. It didn’t.

As a new player, game overs in Dust & Neon feel like a huge gut punch because you lose your loot, cores, and stronger guns that you can find on a stage map. What’s really sad about my experience is that I found Dust & Neon to have addictive gameplay and I COULD see myself really liking this game if it wasn’t for the difficulty spike, and feeling punished by some of the gameplay mechanics (gun accuracy being affected if you move and shoot enemies at the same time.)

You also need to defeat bosses to unlock other area maps, and with huge difficulty spikes this can become an impossible task unless you are familiar with twin-stick shooters.

I know I’m probably being harsh about Dust & Neon but the level spikes and your accuracy being affected if you move around and shoot at enemies, caused a lot of frustration and soured my experience as a new player.

However, there were things that I did appreciate about the gameplay so here’s my short list:

  • You will almost always have a green directional hotspot marker telling you where to go and compared to the last game I reviewed DC’s Justice League Cosmic Chaos, this feature in Dust & Neon is more consistent and does what it’s supposed to.
  • Progression in Dust & Neon is mission-based which allows players some freedom in deciding what they want to do next! (Missions are randomized and you can do the same mission twice but on different difficulties. One time I saw TWO train heist missions available- one was on an easy difficulty, and one was on a medium difficulty. It goes without saying that doing a mission that has a higher difficulty will net you more cash.)
  • You can find some cool weapons if you explore, but if you don’t like the weapon you pick up, you can scrap it to earn cash (By pressing the Y button)
  • You can restock your ammo by killing robots, from opening countless boxes you’ll find in the field, or in buildings indicated with a green glow.
  • Leveling up Gunslinger gives you skill points that you can use to upgrade various abilities through the Clone-O-Matic which will make him stronger and it does feel rewarding so even if you are stuck in the game, at least you can STILL do something that feels progressive.
  • When you die and receive a game over you automatically return to the base and can pick up a few weapons for free at the Gun Materialization station. This is helpful to always have a few guns for free since I found that buying new guns is expensive, and just losing your money can be a bit much on a game over.
  • You can change your weapon by pressing the X button and the specific directional button, which can be a lifesaver if you’re in a pinch.

GRAPHICS:

Upon first glance without knowing anything about Dust & Neon the cell-shaded art style is beautiful and was the very thing that sucked me in and inspired me to step out of my comfort zone to give this game a try. My favorite part of the intricate details is when ammo reloads in your guns it’s flashy and causes the excitement to build when you take down enemies. As a first-time player, I also appreciated that the loading screen presented a variety of tips that I could use in battles. 

SOUND:  

Dust & Neon has wonderful music that captures the essence of the game, and I loved the voice acting for Dr. Finkle as it embodied his nature as a Mad Scientist.

REPLAY VALUE:

Dust & Neon may not be a game I will visit again in the future however, there could be tons of replay value for those who love the variety of missions!

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This game will not be for everyone, but for those who love tough twin-stick shooters, you will have a good time!

A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Dust & Neon
Release date: February 16, 2023 (consoles)

Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed) Windows, Playstation 5, Xbox
Publisher: Rogue Games
Developer: David Marquardt Studios
MSRP: $19.99 USD

A tough nut to crack

Story - 60%
Gameplay - 70%
Graphics - 78%
Sound - 78%
Replay Value - 60%

69%

Okay

It was good to play something out of my comfort zone and expand my gaming horizons, but Dust & Neon is not the game for me.

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About Nadia

Hey! I'm Nadia! I am a big fan of RPGs and you can almost always catch me playing one in my spare time. Writing is my passion, and my intention is that you all learn something through my work!

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