During the ‘rise of the indies’, all non-AAA titles, crafted by single individuals and/or minute development teams, were all about crafting unique, and time-worthy experiences. But as we’ve began to move away from low-budget games such as Super Meat Boy, and started heading in direction of elaborate works, bordering on AAA status, such as Everybody Has Gone to The Rapture – the structure of the indie-centric industry has evolved – but in the wrong direction.
Initially, indie scene was like an underground casino. It was a single poker table, and by it, sat a group of select individuals who were carefully placing their bets, to ensure the best possible return. But that small poker lounge, has grown in size and popularity as the time went on. And the once obscure lounge, has become a full-scale casino.
The single poker table has turned into ten, and is now full of ex-AAA high rollers, with millions in their pockets, and on the table. Beside them, you can find AAA developers playing craps with ridiculously high stakes, hoping that one day, they’ll get the right roll. However, right beside them is another room the size of a football field, full of one-armed-bandits, and fruit machines, which are being occupied by the low-end indie developers, who are trying to hit a fortune, with nothing more than nickels and dimes. And one of such developers, who is shaking from desperation, is Zoxide Games, the developer of the recently released Neptune Flux.
Zoxide games, in terms of this metaphor, is like an 80-year-old lady, who has gambled away her retirement fund, a dime at a time. And is now at a point, where everything she puts into the machine, has to have a return. However, while she is valiantly cramming in all her coins, hoping to break the bank, she disregards the harsh reality of the fact that she might have to go back home with a single dollar. And this exactly how the development of Neptune Flux went. The developer has approached the project with limited funds, an incredibly short deadline, and likely a lack of necessary skills, which are required for the game which it’ve envisioned.
Neptune Flux is like a title, which City Interactive – now CI Games – would publish back in the early to late 2000’s. It is incredibly short, as it can be completed easily under 30 minutes, even by a person who has never played it before. It features an incredibly incoherent control scheme, which makes little to no sense, as the action button, one of the most important buttons, in any game, is located not under X, square or R2, but under top d-pad button. I’m still baffled by how somebody could have thought that this would be a great placement. But then, Neptune Flux is a title which uses circle as the start button, as whenever you press it, the game asks you if you want to quit.
In-game control scheme is incredibly odd, and no, it’s not unique or quirky, it’s just simply bad. And you could argue that all could be forgiven, if there was an option to rebind all the buttons, but unfortunately, Neptune Flux doesn’t even feature alternate control schemes. An option-feature which is a standard since the PlayStation One era. And since we’re on the subject of 1998, and archaic games, it has to be mentioned that Neptune Flux misses even more vital features. Within the title you won’t find a gamma slider, a field of vision setting (it’s missing even in VR mode), or even subtitles. And lack of simple text is especially confusing, as Neptune Flux features complete voice-over, which is the only good thing about the title.
One could complain about Neptune Flux lacking features, length, and archaic structure for hours. However, all of the above are nowhere near as bad as the visuals, which are quite frankly, poor and uninspired. And that’s because the entirety of the title is brown, and grey. There are certain elements such as blue, red, and green lights, but they’re ultimately Neon Flux’s final undoing, as they only showcase how ugly all the in-game textures are. However, there is a saving grace, as your field of vision ends about 10 metres in front of your face, and everything beyond that distance is simply covered with muddy waters, which turns crystal clear the second you get close enough.
In closing, all that has to be said about Neon Flux, is that it is a waste of voice actors’ time, and talent. As they are ultimately featuring in something that is a glorified, low-end Steam Green Light cash-in. And there will probably be a handful of people angry at the fact that I’ve not mentioned that Neon Flux is a VR-enabled title. But all who say that, have to face the music, as in the year of our lord, 2017, every chancer and his mate can turn a cheap FPP title into a VR experience. And in all honesty, if you want to experience Neon Flux in full VR, go to your local sewage plant, and asked them to let you have a swim in one of their tanks, because it is going to be a near identical experience, if not more pleasant.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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