Be a poor, lonesome cybernetic enhanced undead cowboy in "Dust& Neon" . | Review

Rat meat, cybernetic enhancements, wild weapon designs and the long arm of the law. Take on the ruling robot overlord class as a cyborg guns...

Rat meat, cybernetic enhancements, wild weapon designs and the long arm of the law. Take on the ruling robot overlord class as a cyborg gunslinger with a loaded revolver and all the time in the world. Explore a huge, varied world with four unique regions, shoot it out against an impressive roster of robot enemies with unique strengths and weaknesses. Claim the bounties on a sinister cast of villains in epic boss fights. Death! Is only the beginning.

What is it?
Dust & Neon is a top-down twin stick looter shooter with rogue like elements and a cover and dodge mechanic to top it all off.  In a 15+ hour campaign you take on various challenges in a mission to defeat the robots that have ruled the earth all too long. With a selection of nearly 2,000 wholly unique weapons and 1600 unique tonics that allow you to temporarily change or enhance your abilities. Additionally, you can encounter money, weapons and upgrades in loot boxes scattered around. earn enough experience and you can upgrade your gunslinger with 24 unique skills and improve your effectiveness. 


The game plays with an angled top-down camera view as you navigate your Dusty cyborg cowboy through home base as well as the different mission areas open to explore, investigate and complete missions in. The main map is split into four large areas that each have random missions appear on them to partake in, each varying in degrees of difficulty. Once selected you enter the domain and fulfill the requirements before you can exit again, collecting money, weapons and more along the way. Gain enough levels and notoriety and a boss will spawn ready to really challenge you and take you out. You better be prepared if you decide to confront them. 

Being a Twin stick shooter, the controls are easy enough to grasp. Move with one stick and aim with the other. Reloading is done with a face button, and unlike many games before you have to load your western weapons, one round at a time, resulting in a lot of tap-tap-taps as you take on the hordes. There are three main weapon types you can switch between a revolver, a shotgun and a rifle. With each its own limited ammo supply. You will have to manage switching to the right weapon at the right time to conserve ammo for the right moment and work your way to various ammo crates to stock back up. 

Throughout the game there are crates and other objects you can use as cover and your character will auto-duck if you stand behind them waiting for enemies to approach. They WILL try to push you away from cover and that is where sprint and roll comes into play. By constant moving from cover to cover or run away from enemies and roll into safety you have to constantly manage the horde of enemy robots trying to eliminate you and your fleshy ways.

The game starts easy as it guides your through its tutorial levels but then quickly picks up the pace and gets more challenging. This is especially apparent when you realize that aiming is not automatic. Timing and patience as well as distance and how much you move are all factors in how well you can cleanup the enemies out to get you. For a twin-stick shooter the game has a surprising strategic and slightly slower-paced layer on top of it all. 

If the button layout causes you issues you can go ahead and change the button mapping to your hearts content to make the game work better for you at any moment. 

As you progress through the game you collect skill-up points for your characters skill tree as well as unlock weapons for future use. Even though rogue-like is a bullet (pun intended) point in its features list, the punishment for death is awfully light compared to other games. You keep your upgrade cores and money, but your weapons are lost. However, some of those you can buy back at a vendor or just get the basic ones and quickly find upgrades. Which brings us to the gun variety, there are only 3 types and within those you can find a bunch of different versions, but the differences are often minute, and you should not expect a borderlands level of crazy weapon varieties, despite the claim there are thousands of weapons to find. But each one does pack a good punch either way and are fun to shoot. 


Dust & Neon's core design in sound and imagery are fun colorful and unique. When I was growing up, I enjoyed the future-space-cowboy stuff of Lonestar a run of the mills merchandise selling cartoon. And of course, I was a big fan of the firefly series. Dust& Neon has definitely echoes of those kinds of media and they do a pretty good job bringing it to the game screen. The sound effects pack a punch, the music al tones of western soundscapes and steel guitar diddies ring set the tone, literally.  You can practically taste the sand and grit. 

The levels do become somewhat repetitive and over familiar on longer and multiple playthroughs so once the initial shine is gone there are not many moments visually to really distinguish themselves and reel you back in. But lucky the gameplay stays true to its core gameplay loop to keep going. 

The character, story and lore are interesting but far from fleshed out. Often with throw away moments such as rat meat being needed to create our hero. Of course, this is not a narrative game, but some fun lore cannot hurt in driving the story in between the gameplay beats. 

Parent recommendation
Dust& Neon has an ESRB rating of 10+ for Fantasy Violence. There is no blood, gore or foul language. But you do shoot robots who dismantle when they "die" Furthermore the difficulty level can spike on many occasions making the game a challenge for some.  It is a game with accessible gameplay and very colorful presentation that would fine for anyone to play.

Final Thoughts
Dust & Neon has the core mechanics and features that can make it a fun addition to any game collection but seems to be lacking a bit in some of its features such as variety in weapons and level design and missions causing feelings of DeJa'Vu and repetitiveness. This does not make it a bad game, but it is something to keep in mind if the core gameplay loop cannot hold your interest. Dusting the hordes of mechanical enemies is a blast however (pun intended again) and the cover and roll mechanics make the game stand out from other similar games. If you love twin-stick shooters, western sci-fi universe or just want to experience some arcade style top down/isometric action then Dust& Neon might have you covered. 

GameDust & Neon 
PublisherDavid Marquardt Studios
DeveloperRogue Games, Inc.
Platform: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Release Date:  17 August 2023 (Price: $19.99)
Review PlatformPlayStation 5
ESRB: E10+   Fantasy Violence

About the writer: DadGeek (Rob) is the co-founder of GeeksVsGeeks. He is a product of the eighties and never let go of his geek interest and hobbies no matter how often someone told him to stop. His love for gaming and all things geeks has been part of his parenting style and permeates throughout the whole family. A family of Geeks vs Geeks  


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