NeuroBloxs Xbox One Review
TETRIS SPACE INVADERS OF THE THIRD KIND
Developed and published by Dighentis, comes the puzzle platformer NeuroBloxs. With a clear homage to earlier games such as Tetris and Space Invaders, this indie game boasts challenge and difficulty, citing it as the “casual game” for “hardcore gamers” and to be perfectly honest, they aren’t wrong with that assessment.
The gameplay in NeuroBloxs is mixed and confused. It seems to try and be two things and ends up as an odd combination of the two. When I first played the game, I went the gung-ho approach and gunned down almost every block and alien that came my way. I thought this was it, until I saw that the blocks have some meaning. If you let the blocks pass the threshold, you can combine coloured blocks together to make them vanish and give you extra points.
This is almost like a space version of Candy Crush. When I found out about this, the entire game changed. What appeared to be a linear platform shooter turns into a quite a complex puzzle game. This has its ups and downs. It forces you to think at two things at once. When you enter Levels Mode, you have to think of three things at once.
Straight away, you’ll notice there are two game modes to NeuroBloxs: Survival Mode and Levels Mode. The two modes both have their advantages and disadvantages, if you really want to test your noggin: Levels mode is for you.
In Levels Mode, on top of worrying about blocks and ufos that occasionally try to bomb you, you also have to worry about obstacles on your platform. Spikes and other shapes will restrict your immediate play area and you’ll have to fly over them. These gets gradually harder and difficulty the more you progress which leads me onto my rant.
There’s no way to level select in this game. When you die, you die: perma-death, restart, right from the beginning. The only way to finish NeuroBloxs is in one sitting, and that’s insanity. There’s no way to pause the game either: the only way to back out, is either death or manually close the game using the Xbox Dashboard.
Whether this was intentional or not, it leaves for a gruelling experience. The “one-take” manner in which you have finished the game in a single sitting is a terribly restricting mechanic. The repeatability in NeuroBlox is virtually zero (unless of course you like to play a lot of the same levels over and over), and it really wrecks the game for me. I didn’t find these “hardcore” mechanics to be fun. Don’t get me wrong, I like a challenge, but this is on a whole new level.
The Survival game mode is where this game is best played. No obstacles to worry about and your main focus is just to basically continue on as much as possible. With the removal of the obstacles found in Levels Mode, it becomes slightly more playable and enjoyable. However it’s a long way off.
The controls are nothing good either. Almost every button serves the same purpose: both triggers and all of “XYBA” fire the main cannons on the ship. Both the d-pad and analogue sticks move the ship left and right and the RB/LB bumpers act as the teleport to move your ship across obstacles. This generalisation of controls means you can pretty much press any old button and still get hits. You could literally play this game with your eyes closed only twiddling the sticks and buttons.
Overall NeuroBloxs leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s clear their intentions were good, citing from legendary games we all know and love. However that love is not replicated here. The controls are lazy, the level select…or there lack of, is frustrating and the fact you can’t pause the game is nuts. Whether you like your games insanely hard then you’ll enjoy this. They say NeuroBloxs is for casual gamers, but really the achievement hunting adrenaline monkeys will enjoy it more. Even if you are achievement hunting, don’t expect to get much gamerscore out of this, the majority of the achievements are worth 1G, which is definitely not worth the amount of effort you have to put in. NeuroBloxs unfortunately didn’t get me hooked.
We’d like to thank Dighentis for providing us with the game code.
Price – £5.79