Dust and Neon is a slick twin-stick shooter for the Nintendo Switch. This sci-fi title merges classic Western gunslinging with a futuristic robotic twist. As the name implies, it’s a combination of the “dusty” past with the bright “neon” lights of the future. It also happens to be an engaging and action-packed outing.
This amalgamation of concepts totally works. Most of your time is spent creeping through abandoned towns in search of robots, resulting in some tense gunfights. You play the role of a reanimated corpse in a plot reminiscent of Frankenstein. A scientist named Dr. Finkel has created you from all sorts of unsavory things in order to take down the league of robots plaguing the world.
Gameplay occurs on an isometric playing field. There’s a definite stealth element to it, with your character automatically crouching behind objects as you approach them. It plays a little like Mario + Rabbids, but without the turn-based element. Instead, the swift action is real-time; once those pesky robots spot you, they won’t stop their pursuit until one of you is down.
There’s also a strong exploratory aspect to Dust and Neon. As you scour each outpost, you can enter houses, saloons, and other buildings to scavenge for weapons, ammo, and health. In fact, some missions require you to enter them—for example, to take out a generator hiding inside.
Collecting cash and weapons is also a big part of the gameplay. There are many weapons to choose from, but you can only hold a few at a time. Each has its own stats, including damage, critical rate, handling, and bullet capacity. Comparing them is quick, and it’s exciting to find a better weapon and ditch an old one (and trade in for cash). That money handily goes towards purchasing other weapons and upgrades between missions.
Your character also levels up via a ranking system. Each new rank earns you points with which you can upgrade one of several attack or defend stats. This simple branching system allows you to pick and choose which aspects to focus on. More health? More ammo? Faster roll recovery? It’s up to you!
I also love the reload feature. Mid-combat, you’ll inevitably run out of ammo. Pressing Y brings your weapon up on-screen, refilling your barrel one bullet at a time. Guns that hold more bullets, therefore, require less refilling. It’s an important consideration when you’re surrounded by many enemies at once.
Gameplay is simple to learn, with twin-stick shooting at the center of things. It’s the usual setup—the left stick controls your character, and the right stick contros your weapon. You can also run, roll, reload, and switch weapons by tapping the appropriately mapped button. It’s well designed, making this an easy game to pick up and play.
Visually, Dust and Neon looks just like a Space Western. Barrels and railway tracks litter the dusty town. Meanwhile, you’ll also encounter glowing crystals and robotic debris, providing the futuristic neon side of things. It’s well-animated and appropriately bleak for the apocalyptic narrative, with colors splashed about to highlight certain elements like generators, laboratory items, or ammo. In short, it looks great. The audio complements these visuals with tunes that take a typical Western soundtrack and somehow modify it for this dystopian world.
Overall, Dust and Neon is a fun and engaging twin-stick shooter. The combination of a futuristic world featuring gunslinging robots is addictive, with plenty of action to keep you busy.