At first glance, Neoverse is yet another fantasy style deck builder – a niche type of game that players are either really into or find completely uninteresting.
I’d ordinarily lean to the latter type of players, but I found Neoverse to pull me in with its surprisingly addictive and deep rouge-like gameplay.
Desolate world, desolate narrative
One of the only things the player can deduce about the game world is that society as we know it is no more.
On earth, nature has begun to slowly reclaim humanity’s towering cities, with feral looking beasts now roaming the streets. Something has gone wrong, but we never find out what.
This is mostly on account of a complete dearth of backstory and three entierely mute characters. There’s barely any story to speak of, and it’s clear the developers just chose the aesthetic and ran with it.
Adding further confusion to this world is that you don’t spend much time in the earth environment before moving to a different dimension.
The game necessitates jumping through portals to other worlds, where it takes on a complete shift to some sort of fantasy land with mythical enemies.
This juxtaposition between worlds is pretty jarring, but looking at the game’s main characters, it’s clear the game takes place across multiple universes…or something like that.
An unlikely trio
There are three main characters in this game.
Agent Naya is a Sammus-Esq, futuristic martial arts type that wields a sword and a handgun.
Then there’s Paladin Clair, an armored warrior with a huge shield and spear.
Lastly, we have the godess-magic type, Summoner Helena
These characters don’t speak, with the budget for narrative seemingly spent on over-sexualized outfit designs and breast physics.
There’s a focus on unlocking a wide array of outfits for each girl – clothes that disintegrate the lower the players HP gets, making the character virtually naked by the end of a hard battle.
The sexualization was clearly a big focus for the game, but if you can get past the rather ridiculous character design, there’s an engaging card game here.
Building a mighty deck
At the game’s core is a procedurally generated 15 waves of enemies with boss battles here and there. Die, and it’s back to the start.
Gameplay in Neoverse revolves around keeping your character alive throughout these increasingly difficult waves of enemies, and building a progressively powerful deck to smite them down with.
Despite their lack of personality and overtly raunchy appearance, the character’s unique abilities are at the cornerstone of the game’s strategy.
Naya has specific shooting abilities with stackable overcharges built around status effects.
Playing as Helena allows for the use of mythical beasts which do a lot of the fighting. The focus being to remain well defended.
Clair has vampiristic and faith abilities, enabling a player that knows what they’re doing to recover HP while also dealing damage.
There’s a surprising about of depth to the strategy of each character, and a vast variety of different cards that interact with each other depending on who you choose to play as.
Combat is, of course, turn-based, and if the enemy is successfully defeated rewards are granted before moving on.
It’s here you make necessary upgrades to prepare for the next battle.
The player has the option to pick up a new card tailored to their character’s ability, and you’ll also acquire gold. This currency can be used to purchase new cards outside of the given playstyle.
Buying cards this way offers further depth; there are opportunities to create a unique combination of cards and strategies outside of the predetermined play style.
There’s also a skill tree the player can spend points on at the end of each battle. These offer passive upgrades to your character’s abilities but don’t do a lot other than boosting stats.
The card designs are really nicely drawn, too, and the enemies and backgrounds – while nothing groundbreaking – are similarly well done.
It all knits together very well overall, providing something easy to understand that’s also highly addictive.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy, however.
No walk in the park
The game’s high difficulty means learning your character’s strategies is an absolute must.
There’s no way to button mash your way through, with the player having to think carefully about each next move.
As well as powerful attacks, enemies have the ability to drop undesirable cards into your deck; these might make you unable to attack or remove the stacked status effect you’ve been building.
Moreover, some cards elicit a risk-reward mechanic. One of these cards might deal high damage, but spew three negative cards into your deck. This could be problematic later.
Neoverse is a hard game, and a player won’t beat it first, second, or third time around. It requires mastery of the mechanics, but forcing you to do so illuminates the aforementioned deep and engaging gameplay.
Enemy attacks are also visible on screen before they perform them, meaning you have time to plan.
There are some less engaging aspects to the difficulty, however.
Sometimes, you’ll simply be dealt a bad hand which makes the prospect of winning slim.
This is an issue in most rouge-like games, but it can be frustrating to deal with this element of luck when the rest of the game is built upon layered strategy.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
With niche gameplay styles like this, many will take one look and be instantly switched off. I wouldn’t have picked Neoverse to play had I not intended to review it.
The game is proof, though, that we shouldn’t be so eager to dismiss something we initially deem isn’t our cup of tea.
Despite the silly characters and wacky world, most would get sucked in after a few waves.
Neoverse doesn’t break into new, unexplored territory or innovate in some profound way; but what it does provide is a fun, robust, and satisfyingly challenging card game.
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Summary: Neoverse is a beautiful, fantastic game consisting of adventures with thrilling challenges. It is a strategic, action, rogue-lite, deck building game that will test the player’s skill. Start an adventure with unique heroes to save the world along various timelines.
Genres: Role-Playing, Japanese-Style, Card battler, turn-based strategy
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (Review Version), PC, Xbox One
Initial release date: 19 Feb, 2020