STAFF REVIEW of Dust & Neon (Xbox Series X)

Monday, September 18, 2023.
by Ayden Heilman

Dust & Neon Box art Dust & Neon, made by David Marquardt and published by Rogue Games is a twin-stick rogue-lite shooter, set in a robotic post-apocalypse take of the Wild West with you playing as a robot whose creator clones every time you die. Until now, it was only available on PC and The Nintendo Switch, but new-generation Xbox and PlayStation players are now able to play it. The game begins with an overview of the world and Dr. Finkle, a scientist who is attempting to prevent droids and robots from overtaking it. To do this he is using scrap parts of robots to clone new ones which explains why you respawn.

Dust And Neon takes you through a variety of worlds with varying objectives, like robbing a train for gold which you can spend to buy new weapons from the shop, or hunt down bounties which are harder variants of enemies. After the missions, you are given a chance to recoup at the lab where Dr. Finkle works, allowing you to spend your skill points and buy new weapons.

Dust And Neon has a distinct reloading system where you have to tap the reload button each time depending on how much your gun holds, a unique reloading mechanic that can become a necessity to whether you're going to live or be destroyed. Luckily, almost all the environment can be used as cover, providing you with a chance to reload during a hail of fire. There is a lack of variety in the types of weapons though, as you can only use three varieties throughout. They are all just different revolvers, shotguns and rifles, with the only difference being minor appearance changes or stats.

Like me, you will probably choose a specific gun type and stick to it for the majority of the game. That doesn't take away from the general fun the combat brings, though it will probably be repetitive for some. Combat had a certain charm to it that kept it fresh for me. That charm doesn't take away how easy it is with the simple duck and cover and the plentiful amount of health drops.

The missions leading up to the six boss battles never really differ from the blowup structures, robbing trains, and stealing documents. So the main levels can tend to feel a bit repetitive when you play more of the adventure. Dust And Neon does excel in the boss fights with most of them taking away the cover-based combat you have gotten used to and switching it to a more traditional gun fight. After you beat each boss you can repeat the duel for XP and cores to level for perks and upgrade your base. The perks were underwhelming, all of them being slight improvements that were not too noticeable.

With cores, you can upgrade your base which will let you keep guns after death, get once-a-level upgrades, or even upgrade the shop. The narrative lacks much, with only a small amount of exposition on the bosses. The world has that unique Borderlands cell-shaded style, but with its own take on the style. The actual environments did not have much to them, with stuff you unlock with cores like buildings and chests. The checkpoints throughout the levels thankfully provide you with health drops and ammunition.

The post-apocalyptic robot western theme was a unique and fascinating idea. The soundtrack matched the archetype and was good, but it didn't stand out at the same time. The soundtrack required more variety to bring more excitement. It could have been better with more tracks or even more intense tracks on certain levels and boss fights.

Dust & Neon could be a worthwhile try for twin-stick shooter fans, or even rogue-lite fans to some extent, but it can become repetitive and somewhat easy. Dust & Neon will be enjoyable for a short amount of time, but it won't provide endless hours of gameplay.

**Dust & Neon was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series S**

Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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