Arcade racing games, for the most part, have been a self-contained genre where titles like Need For Speed and Burnout became trendsetters, and to this day, have their own dedicated fanbases and accolades. Yet small-time indie titles within the same genre fail to make a lasting impression due to their niche style or limited marketing strategy. However, I think it is safe to say that the game manages to overcome those barriers and it truly is a one-of-a-kind indie arcade experience. And with this Neodash review, we mean to explain why that is the case.
The game’s key focus that differentiates it, is how it mixes up a certain rogue-like mechanic where you are racing against time and permadeath in each stage. It encourages players to truly put the pedal to the metal, and rush their way to the finish line while listening to an awesome mix of Synthwave and EDM OST before they face their impending doom and restart from the beginning again.
Neodash is developed by a single French Developer, Axan Gray, who created this project by taking inspiration from his favorite game, Rocket League. I adored my time playing the game during its initial demo stages when it was available in the Steam NextFest showcase, and now it is safe to say, the final release of Neodash was finally here so I just had to buy it on launch. I did this not only to support this amazing indie project so that it could reach its full potential, but most importantly, to provide a concise review on whether or not it is worth your investment.
The game doesn’t have any sort of proper storytelling or narrative, but for people who love the themes and visuals of Retrowave or something straight out of the Tron Legacy movies, Neodash embodies those aesthetics to its very core, as seen by the spectacular neon-fueled level design. And that’s to say nothing of the track builds too.
Neodash plunges users into a sci-fi interspace where the main campaign tracks designed by the developer all have varying designs and a setting that sets each one apart from the rest in comparison. As soon as you jump into the game and reach the main menu, you can feel the striking inspiration of Rocket League with the UI interface as well as the design of the different customizable cars themselves.
Each level will thrust you into this procedurally-generated world where it will be filled with this exciting sense of discovery, as you play the levels for the first time and begin to learn their patterns. Plus, you also have plenty of gameplay features to be immersed in as we discuss the level editor and more later on in this review of Neodash.
The gameplay and racing mechanics in the game are all reminiscent of what you may find in other time trial-based events found in other similar arcade titles. But given the fact that it was all designed by one developer speaks volumes, because once you play Neodash for the first time, there is no going back until you finish it. The gameplay loop is addictive and satisfying from start to finish.
It roughly took me about 3 hours to end the game in its ‘Grid’ campaign, and most players should also succeed in completing it within the same time frame, but it also depends on their skill level as well. Additionally, you also have the optional incentive of tackling the hardcore levels which are unlocked by finding hidden gates tucked away in the tracks. Fair warning though however, as they may prove to be a challenge for beginner-level players yet are worth the risk to accomplish and complete.
The game has an intuitive and snappy gameplay design that revolves around using your Hyperdrift and Boost mechanics to full usage in order to complete the various events with maximum efficiency and speed. I found myself slowly utilizing the boost technique while drifting around every corner of a track to complete levels with relative ease, without having the fear of having the death gate reach me during most of my playtime.
Moreover, you also have the ability to perform barrel rolls while in mid-air to score some style points or most importantly, to complete some of the platforming sections in some of the tracks and avoid deathtraps and other obstacles which might catch you by surprise. Proper placement of these obstacles made the levels challenging, but they also kept each level fresh and unique. So as you master all of these features, you may even learn the secret tricks that will help you skip some sections in the tracks which can be exceedingly hard to pull off considering you require the correct timing and maneuverability.
Furthermore, during my playthrough of Neodash, I occasionally dived into the player-made tracks as well as the complexly built Level Editor that allows users to create their own custom racing tracks for the community to download and play for free. This aspect alone has immense potential for replayability, but I only got to test a handful of tracks that were created right after the release of the game on Steam.
The Level Editor has a variety of tools that you can use to customize and craft your very own tracks to share and test out. Plus the creative potential and possibilities for what you can make are endless, and I can only hope that the developer may add more options for it in the future.
Your car can be also personalized and modified to your liking as there are quite a few options to pick from including being able to purchase a new body kit, paint job, or wheels. The currency to purchase these items and refresh the selection of them can be earned by completing the different normal and hardcore tracks of Neodash.
Everything is brilliantly topped off with a fantastic soundtrack that features various independent artists that provide engaging music to accompany you in each track, ranging from techno EDM to the blood-pumping synthwave encore which can easily please almost anyone.
The only minor gripes I can think of are the few hardcore levels that really require a high sense of skill to complete successfully, which can seem quite tedious and difficult for casual players, as well as some new additions to the Car Modification system and other Quality-of-life aspects. Additionally, the only multi-player aspect right now is the option to challenge the ghosts of other players of the game and beat their fastest times.
Visuals And Performance
Neodash does not stray away from being a visual treat for sore eyes. The dazzling and blooming neon slipstreams as you zoom past each obstacle and deathtrap at supersonic speed are hard not to admire since you’re completely glued to the screen at any given moment, pushing yourself past the limits. More often than not, the music will be in sync with the race track, and during some instances, you can even witness a glowing orb in the far-off distance performing rhythmic beats to the currently playing track.
The game has an excellent art style that makes use of vibrant neon colors that come to life on screen. At the highest graphical settings, Neodash becomes a delightful experience that at times will make it look like a next-gen game with ray tracing functionality, which is insane to believe keeping in mind the scope of the game.
Speaking of settings, you will be pleased to know that the game performs remarkably at the highest graphical options available even with older GPUs. I was able to smoothly run the game at 1080p with the default Ultra preset on my AMD RX 580 and Ryzen 5 3600 without having to worry about any temperature spikes or any other performance issues with framerate that many would come to expect in these kinds of texture-heavy games.
There weren’t any major technical bugs or glitches that I could find during my playthrough of Neodash, which is always a welcome surprise.
Creator Axon Gray has truly fulfilled his dream of creating a game that combines the best of both worlds from games like Rocket League and Trackmania. Neodash is an example of an indie game that isn’t too large in scope, but by all means, manages to impress and amaze players with its unique and addictive gameplay.
The driving and controls never seem to hold back from immersing the player as you jump from level to level in succession, losing track of time in an instant. The sensational feeling of blazing through each level in quick succession ultimately rewards you for your efforts, which, in turn, helps you customize your vehicles with style and grace.
The aesthetically pleasing neon art direction is nailed beautifully and above all else, is a deal-maker for anyone who is quite fond of that sort of craftsmanship. It is one of the rare indie games that will hopefully continue to thrive with a dedicated community as well as more updates to further polish it in the near future.
- Fantastic Level Design
- Responsive Controls
- Addictive Gameplay
- Stunning And Crisp Visuals
- QoL Improvements
- Minor Difficulty Spikes
- Limited Progression Incentives
Neodash Rating 4/5
We hope you enjoyed reading this Neodash review and hopefully, it will help you decide whether or not you should invest your time and purchase the game for a few bucks.
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