April 5th, 2012 | By Emerson Smith
When I first booted up the side-scrolling Neoteria, I was both impressed and hopeful. After playing for a bit longer, however, I discovered that there was an area that Neoteria fell short. This single flaw brought down the entire experience, and held developer OrangePixel from releasing something truly special. Nonetheless, the menu interface and stage selection were minimalistic and crisp. As I selected the first character and began the first world, I was blown by the genuine style and class the developers had evoked from the deep blue screen and small text. OrangePixel clearly understands that less is more.
The menus do not make a sound, other than the nondescript beeps that respond to your selections. Once you enter a level, the screen explodes with color, movement and sound. The charming pixels are accompanied by an intense, retro tune. As a player, you cannot help but lose yourself as the game overloads your senses. The artwork is not only colorful, but attractive as well. The sound effects blend with the music, and the amount of polish crammed into every enemy, every texture, and even the smoke billowing from the rear of your ship is evident from the moment you begin to play.
During my play through of the main campaign, I didn’t encounter any visual glitches or frame rate drops. The amount of detail is simply breath taking. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to absorb all of this because you will be too busy playing the game.
And the gameplay is where Neoteria falls short. The style is there, but the virtual buttons simply are not up to the task. In order to shoot you must rapidly tap a fire button in the bottom right corner. This would not be too much of a hassle if you did not need to worry about moving your ship up and down.
While playing, the game constantly scrolls to the right. That way, the only directional control the player needs to account for is the vertical movement. The virtual buttons for moving up and down are, by default, placed on the bottom left of the screen. This can supposedly be easily remedied by the moving the buttons to wherever you wish in the options menu, but wherever I placed them on the screen, I ended up losing them under my finger.
There is so much to keep track of on screen, I cannot worry about where my thumb is and it needs to happen naturally. Also, in the later levels, the buttons simply vanish. This seems like a classy way to make room for all of the gorgeous visuals that the game keeps producing, but it simply does not work in this context.
In short, I am not sure if I can recommend Neoteria, or not. The movement can be easily fixed with a slider or other control revision to replace the virtual buttons (and an option to hold down the fire button would be nice), but without that, it’s really difficult to enjoy. Some people may enjoy the gritty intensity of games that are difficult to master, but I like games that are difficult and I can only blame myself for the mistakes, not the controls.