Tasty Poison Games and Crescent Moon Games have teamed up yet again. Their last outings included the unique puzzler Dig! and the colorful action dungeon crawler, Pocket RPG. Tasty Poison always delivers on quality and polish, even if the games are a bit smaller or repetitive. That's the case with their latest release, Neon Shadow, a tribute and love letter to classic first person shooters.
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For all the Android and iOS games aping mega hit blockbuster shooters like Call of Duty and Gears of War, there are some who fondly remember an older time. A simpler time, when epic, sweeping tales of heroism and world saving played second fiddle to gameplay, and your health meter didn't magically auto-replenish. Games like Doom and Quake serve as the main inspiration for Neon Shadow, and it really shows through immediately. The first thing you'll probably do is be surprised by how fast your character moves and aims, especially if you're used to slower console shooters like Halo.
The backdrop of a story involves you moving through a space station trying to stop a self-aware artificial intelligence and his reprogrammed robot army. Gameplay is fast paced and fun, if repetitive. Each level has you seeking out and destroying a power node before double timing it to the nearest elevator. Ammo and Health pickups tend to be a bit more scarce, with each ammo crate color coded to one of your four weapons. Well, three weapons, technically, since your starting shotgun has infinite ammo. It was interesting to see a shotgun in place of the usual pistol or just a melee weapon as the starting infinite ammo weapon.
Joining your shotgun is a fast firing pulse rifle, a grenade launcher, and the boss killer of choice, the plasma cannon. The touch controls work surprisingly well, with help from the sticky aiming, though that aiming can interfere in some cases. Make sure there aren't any small swarming enemies around the big guns you want to use that plasma cannon on, or you're likely to waste ammo. On that note, there are only a handful of enemy types in the game, from melee crawler enemies to flying drones, turrets, formidable soldier types, and big time mechs, plus 8 levels and a final boss level. Robots and evil AI in space aren't exactly a fresh idea, but the art direction of the enemies is pretty creative.
The game annoyingly has no checkpoints in any level. This harkens back to a more challenging time, which is fine, but it can also be frustrating, as even on lower difficulties, it's pretty easy to accidentally damage yourself with explosives or get cornered and snuck up on from behind by a crawler. There are loads of customization options for controls, plus external controller support, Lan and Online multiplayer, and even same device split screen for tablets. I have some gripes with this game, but they're all nit-picky when faced with just how much the game gets right, and I totally recommend it. Neon Shadow is available for three dollars at the time of this review.