Good times and extreme punishment
Rhythm games and match-3 puzzle games are typically regarded as quiet, soothing fare – games that are good to play while you’re winding down in bed with a steaming cup of chamomile tea on your nightstand. Joerg Doneit’s Neurokult, however, combines elements from the puzzle and rhythm genre, and it’s anything but relaxing. Seriously, you’ll get a better night’s sleep if you snort Red Bull in lieu of playing this title.
Not to suggest that Neurokult is a bad game. Far from it. But if you let your attention wander for even a fraction of a second, you’ll wind up as pixel-dust floating through the emptiness of cyberspace. It’s a brutal little bugger, and for that reason you’ll be compelled to try again and again.
The premise for Neurokult isn’t complicated, but it ultimately explains the game’s neon phenotype: you’re a voyager exploring the vast reaches of “neurospace,” but your journey isn’t an easy one. You need to bypass security measures by tapping on colored buttons while avoiding the many traps, bosses, and pitfalls that aim to blast your mind out of existence.
Indeed, getting beyond the first level of Neurokult requires superhuman reflexes. Colored pieces slide across the screen at varying speeds, and you must tap them to be rid of them before they hit the right side of the screen and deplete your synaptic plasticity (er, health bar).
Here’s the catch: each colored piece has a corresponding color dot on the left side of the screen, and you need to select the proper color before tapping on the sliding dots. In other words, if you have the red dot selected, you can tap on the red pieces. If you tap on the blue pieces while the red dot is selected, however, nothing will happen.
If that sounds like enough to keep you busy, you’d be right. But Neurokult cranks up the difficulty by including trap pieces that deplete your health or end your game if you touch them. The higher your level, the more of these traps you can expect to see.
Trying to maneuver around traps while keeping pace with the game’s tempo makes Neurokult a frenzied, often frustrating experience. Success doesn’t come easy, but it’s still possible: you can link same-colored pieces to dispose of them as part of a combo attack that also restores your synaptic plasticity. There’s also a thudding soundtrack that keeps you in the mood to work your way through this odd, sharp world of color and sounds. Bring headphones, though: the gameplay and soundtrack don’t interact with each other as frequently as most rhythm games.
Neurokult isn’t for the faint of heart. When you die on a stage, you’re chucked back to square one: a supremely aggravating fate when you’re mere seconds away from succeeding. It’s highly addictive, however, and carries a simple but original premise. If you’ve been looking for a merciless rhythm/puzzle game that spares the long tutorials and cutesy mascots, Neurokult is an ideal mate.