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June 2021


Platform(s): PC
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Developer: Dream Harvest
Release Date: 2021


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PC Preview - 'NeuroSlicers'

by Cody Medellin on Sept. 29, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

NeuroSlicers is a post-cyberpunk strategy game combining solo, co-op, competitive PVP and PvPvE gameplay into a narrative-driven whole.

Two years ago, NeuroSlicers debuted at an event in London. With a promise to change how most RTS games are handled, its debut impressed quite a few people, and anticipation for news on its ongoing progress began to grow. We had a chance to check out the game in its public pre-alpha state to see what the fuss is about.

The preview build contains two modes. The first is the campaign, which shows off the opening levels that, as expected, act as the tutorial. As an RTS, NeuroSlicers emphasizes protecting your core, since its destruction means the end of your mission. Building troops for both offense and defense is made much easier, since you don't have to build a specific structure to deploy them, but you can't necessarily tell them when or where to go because they automatically do things on their own.

Instead, your main focus is on territory expansion. Your main core shows you where you can build things, and creating more nodes along the edges of that territory expands the area, allowing you more space to build things or deploy troops, so their trek to their destination is less perilous. Later, you can build network lines that are a backup means of keeping nodes linked (should one of them fall), and it's also a way to clear gaps in the terrain while keeping things connected. Depending on the mission, nodes can take over checkpoints that allow you to lower bridges or deactivate shield gates.

As in any RTS, you'll need resources to keep things going; this is where the nodes serve another distinct function, since they can be transformed to produce one of two resource types. Data is one resource that can be generated directly by the nodes dotting the area, with the smaller modules producing the same data. Going small produces more data at a fast rate compared to letting the resource generate itself over time, and it ensures that the opposition needs to destroy more items to halt data production.

You can opt to have the node utilize more memory for troop production and node conversion. Interestingly, you can ignore the memory restriction and keep producing units and building types as long as you have enough data to do so. It is meant for emergencies, as going over memory capacity drains health from your core. You can reclaim some of the memory by destroying your converted nodes, but the tactic is riskier when you have troops on the field, so having strong troops in the field can actually hurt more than help if you can't secure a victory or quickly replenish your memory stash.

The result is an RTS that seems a little easier since you can't influence combat. It's all about territory management, and there's enough of that to keep players busy; it's also accessible enough to those who are exploring the genre for the first time. The game's ease of use also results in not having so many units and building units at your disposal. NeuroSlicers compensates for this by emulating card games and letting you customize your deck so that you can select exactly which units to bring into a mission. The preview build didn't give us much of a chance to play around with this aspect, but that notion presents some interesting gameplay opportunities; ordering your cards is important, since you can change loadouts on the fly and power up those cards.

NeuroSlicers also features multiplayer, and while the closed beta status made it difficult to get 2v2 or 1v1 games going, there is the option to play against an AI opponent. The objective is to destroy the opposing main core, and you get to do so in more confined arenas as opposed to the genre's usual sprawling maps. Territory control remains a big focus of the game, as the map points out laser cannons that can be commandeered. The AI is brutally tough at the moment, but the game kind of evens the playing field by giving everyone the same deck. While that negates any work you've put into your custom deck for the campaign, it means that, except for game experience, everyone is on even ground from the outset.

There's still plenty of time before NeuroSlicers makes its 2021 release, which also means plenty of time for players to come to grips with the new method of RTS play that is on offer. It's certainly different enough to garner some interest, especially as the game touts an adventure that requires both solo and online participation to complete. Look for more coverage as NeuroSlicers begins to beef up.

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