Neonwall (by Jandusoft and Norain Games) is now out on Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4, with optional Playstation VR support on the latter. Naturally, that’s how we played the game for the purpose of this review.
A mix of Trials, Marble Madness and Tron, Neonwall certainly is different. In this action puzzler, you play as an arcade gamer who suddenly gets sucked into the machine he’s playing (well, there’s a thunderstorm involved – Another World-style) and is presented with a virtual representation of the inside of the machine. Sure, the plot is nonsensical and it doesn’t really feature in the actual gameplay.
Best played with a pair of Move controllers, you mostly have indirect control over a marble that you have to get to the end of the level. These levels, while rendered in 3D (with neon edges lighting up black blocks and platforms for a cool Tron-inspired look), mostly play out as though they were 2D. In this sense, Neonwall is a bit like Trials in that you have to navigate your way through a level while moving from left to right, with plenty of turns along the way.
You controllers allow you to change the color of the ball (which allows it to move through or on top of surfaces), but you can also destroy blocks, move platforms and more – gameplay mechanics that are gradually introduced to you by way of in-game tutorial messages. Timing is often of the essence though, as the ball will keep moving without you and you need to trigger the right moves at the right time in order to get through the more difficult levels.
The game’s levels are broken down into three different types, the main draw for me being the puzzle levels. In these, your only task is to figure out how to get your ball to the end of the track safely, but the creative ways in which this has to be done keeps things refreshing. The other modes, time trial and runner, are far more speed-oriented and feel somewhat similar – with the exception that runner has the track vanishing behind you and urges you on even more than time trial does.
Neonwall’s visuals are simple and functional, as its neon colors and blocks make it easy to see what’s going on in a virtual reality environment where switching colors is a key mechanic for the game. This relatively simple visual approach also keeps the performance of the game at a good level, and the (Move) controls worked well. The game isn’t one you’ll be using to show off what VR can do, but it’s a fun diversion of the action puzzler variety. I’d imagine it’s perfectly fun and functional without VR as well, but the “sucked into an arcade machine” premise certainly works better in a headset-fueled setting – the VR compatibility is therefore definitely a nice bonus.