Dust & Neon is a neon-drenched romp through the Wild West, developed by the fresh-faced David Marquardt Studios. This indie roguelite blends classic twin-stick shooting with a quirky post-apocalyptic cowboy theme.
In Dust & Neon, you play as a rebuilt gunslinger resurrected by the eccentric Dr. Finkel. Your goal? Take down the killer robots overrunning this techno-Western wasteland. Equipped with pistols, rifles, and shotguns, you’ll blast through bite-sized 5-10 minute missions filled with bots.
The core gameplay loop is simple: shoot robots, dodge attacks, grab new weapons and upgrades, and try not to die. If you do bite the dust, you’ll lose your equipped guns and have to start over. It’s a formula roguelite fans will recognize.
While not reinventing the wheel, Dust & Neon nails that addictive roguelite loop. The manual reload mechanic also adds a unique wrinkle, making you tap to load each bullet individually. It keeps you engaged during firefights. On the downside, the repetitive missions and uninspired Wild West setting don’t do much to stand out. There’s also a lack of narrative or world building to get invested in.
Still, with tight twin-stick shooting and 60fps performance on PS5, Dust & Neon delivers some rootin’ tootin’ robot destruction. Stay tuned as in this Dust & Neon review we will try to answer all of your questions before playing this game.
Rootin’, Tootin’, Bot-Shootin’ Action
When it comes to gameplay, Dust & Neon keeps it simple but satisfying. As a twin-stick shooter, you move with the left stick and aim/shoot with the right. It’s an intuitive control scheme that lends itself well to the isometric perspective. Blasting bots feels impactful, especially with a close-range shotgun blast.
Fans of twin-stick shooters will easily latch onto the core mechanics. However, the manual reload system gives Dust & Neon a unique flavor. You have to tap the reload button to load each bullet individually. It’s a tactile, almost rhythmic process that adds tension to firefights. Glancing down to monitor your ammo becomes part of the gameplay loop. An auto-reload option exists, but you’d be missing out on the immersive reloading experience.
Beyond shooting, you’ll need to make liberal use of your dodge roll to avoid enemy fire. It has a cooldown timer between uses, so you can’t spam it continuously. Properly timing your dodges and making clever use of cover become critical, especially in later levels.
As with most roguelites, death in Dust & Neon brings consequences. When you die, you’ll lose all equipped weapons and return to your base empty handed. Thankfully, you keep some hard-earned cash and XP. This gives a sense of progression even after repeated failures.
Your home base is where you prep for randomly generated missions, which last 5-10 minutes. Objectives vary, including train heists, sabotage, and destroying property. However, the repetitive level design causes these short missions to grow stale quickly.
With no minimap, you’ll comb each area until you complete the objective. Between ammo crates and loot chests, there’s incentive to fully explore. Loot drops with random properties, giving you options like more ammo capacity or increased critical hit chance.
Stronger enemies emerge deeper into each run, so smart resource management is key. Conserving ammo, utilizing cover, and not getting surrounded become essential skills. Enemy projectiles really pack a punch later on, so a sloppy mistake or two can quickly snowball into death.
By reaching certain character ranks, you’ll unlock bosses for each region. These duels test your ability to balance offense and defense in a prolonged encounter. Defeating a boss once isn’t enough – they return in an upgraded form if you challenge them again!
While gameplay stays true to the twin-stick shooter format, the manual reloading forces more deliberate aiming and shooting compared to simply spraying endless bullets. This thoughtful approach makes combat more methodical.
However, the repetitive nature of missions, enemies, and environments causes monotony to set in. With little variety, the core run-and-gun gameplay can only carry so far before repetition dampens the fun. More mission and enemy diversity could have gone a long way.
Still, David Marquardt Studios succeeded in delivering a polished twin-stick combat system. The added focus from manual reloading is a unique touch that helps Dust & Neon stand out in the crowded roguelite genre. Just be prepared for the repetitive grind that awaits after those initial thrilling hours with the gunslinger.
Level Up and Loot in the Neon West
Like any good roguelite, Dust & Neon offers addictive progression, loot, and plenty of reason to replay. As you complete missions, you’ll earn XP and cash to improve your capabilities.
A standard levelling system lets you unlock new skills and upgrades. Invest in damage, ammo capacity, critical hit chance – the choices are yours. However, you can’t actually spend your new skill points until returning to your base. This causes frustration when you hit the XP cap early in a mission and waste potential points.
Looting weapons is a major highlight. Pistols, rifles, shotguns – they all come in varying rarities with randomized stats. One rifle may excel in damage, while another favors fire rate. You can equip three guns at once for different playstyles. Most loot comes from hidden chests or the shop at your home base. The randomized loot stats keep things fresh.
Your base also upgrades over time by collecting resources found in missions. Improve the weapon vendor’s inventory, unlock buffs – these permanent upgrades give a sense of overall progression.
Yet like any roguelite, death remains a constant threat. When you die, you’ll lose all equipped weapons and have to start fresh. It stings more later on when you’ve scored rare, expensive guns. Regaining them from the shop takes grinding.
Thankfully, you keep some cash and XP after dying. So while weapon loss is punishing, you’re still slowly improving your permanent stats and base. The roguelite loop stays engaging because of this overall progression.
Still, the repetitive missions, enemies, and environments lead to a feeling of grindy repetitiveness. The core gameplay just isn’t varied enough to warrant excessive replays. Especially when weapon loss after a good run feels like an unnecessary punishment.
Yet there’s fun to be had in the early hours when everything still feels fresh. Unlocking new abilities and loot encourages pushing onward. But once the repetition kicks in, the roguelite structure starts to feel like a chore. More variety in missions and maps would better sustain the replay value.
In the end, Dust & Neon succeeds in delivering the core roguelite loop of progression and gear hunting. But the repetitive grind outweighs the rewards, making it best suited for shorter play sessions instead of hours-long marathons. A bit more imagination could have turned the endless replayability into something special.
A Slick Neon Cowboy Paradise
Dust & Neon clearly took visual inspiration from Borderlands, sporting a neon-drenched sci-fi western motif. The combination of cowboy hats and cyberpunk technology embraces the quirky tone. Environments like saloons and train stations get a vibrant sci-fi makeover.
While not the most detailed, the clean visuals are serviceable. Character and weapon models feature strong outlines and colors that pop against the backdrop. The texture work is simple but cohesive. Gameplay remains fast and fluid at 60fps on PS5.
However, the setting and levels still feel a bit plain and empty at times. More visual variety between areas could have further brought this cyber cowboy world to life. As is, the repetitive missions cause the pleasant neon sheen to grow stale after a few hours.
On the audio front, the country and western soundtrack fits the cowboy vibe perfectly. Twangy guitar riffs remind you this is still the Wild West, even with robots running amok. Sound effects like gun shots and explosions also deliver solid audio feedback.
Once again though, more diversity in the music and audio would be welcomed. The soundtrack lacks memorable tunes and leans too heavily on ambience. Sparing use of some vocal tracks could have helped liven things up while you explore and blast away.
Overall, the visual presentation and audio succeed in bringing this quirky robot cowboy theme to life. The Borderlands-esque visual approach pops nicely and performance stays silky smooth. But both elements lack diversity, leading to a feeling of repetition as the hours tick by. Some extra visual and audio flair would have complemented the gunslinging action nicely.
Still, David Marquardt Studios managed to craft a cohesive neon Wild West aesthetic to suit the tone of this roguelite. The clean visuals and country soundtrack won’t blow you away but they serve their purpose well enough. Just don’t expect anything too memorable on the eyes or ears.
A Neon Cowboy Junkie
At its core, Dust & Neon delivers slick, satisfying twin-stick shooting. Gunplay feels responsive and impactful, especially with the immersive manual reload mechanic. This thoughtful approach to shooting is refreshing in a genre known for mindless spray-and-pray tactics. Factor in clean visuals and smooth 60fps performance, and Dust & Neon checks the boxes for moment-to-moment gameplay.
However, a lack of variety quickly causes the experience to grow repetitive. Missions offer little design creativity, while enemies and environments show limited diversity. Without compelling worldbuilding or narrative, the neon Wild West setting feels flat. There’s a solid foundation of gameplay here, but little incentive to invest dozens of hours.
Making matters worse, punishing roguelite elements like weapon loss keep progression feeling like a chore. Dying means re-grinding instead of quick return to the action. Given the repetitive nature of missions, this style of progression soon becomes frustrating.
Yet despite these missteps, the core shooting holds up. There’s fun to be had in shorter sessions when the repetitive nature hasn’t set in. Fans of twin-stick shooters should enjoy the responsive controls and unique reloading tactics. Plus, the neon sci-fi cowboy theme is just plain fun.
As a debut title from a small indie studio, Dust & Neon shows promise. The building blocks are there for an engaging looter shooter. But without meaningful variety in missions, enemies, loot, or environments, the long-term appeal suffers. Expanding on those key elements could take a Dust & Neon sequel to the next level.
For now, David Marquardt Studios has delivered a capable twin-stick shooter merged with serviceable roguelite systems. While it fails to fully leverage the potential of its Wild West setting, Dust & Neon provides fast-paced gunslinging fun in a compact package. Just be wary of repetitive grind settling in after the honeymoon phase wears off.
In the crowded roguelite genre, Dust & Neon struggles to stand out with its lack of innovation and repetition. But an engaging core of shooting means short sessions can still hit the spot for genre fans. Just don’t expect to invest dozens of hours in this neon cowboy paradise before the grinding repetition causes burnout. With more depth and diversity, this debut title could have really popped off. As is, Dust & Neon remains a serviceable short-term romp for twin-stick shooting junkies.
Dust & Neon
Dust & Neon delivers satisfying twin-stick shooting set in a neon-bathed sci-fi Wild West. Its manual reload mechanic and overall polish make blasting bots an enjoyable romp. However, repetitive missions, environments, enemies and roguelite progression soon turn the experience into a repetitive chore. Dust & Neon lacks the variety and depth to stand out among the crowd of roguelite shooters, but still provides short-term enjoyment for genre fans.
- Satisfying twin-stick shooting
- Unique manual reload mechanic
- Neon sci-fi western aesthetic
- Repetitive mission design
- Roguelite progression grows frustrating
- Environments and enemies lack variety