It's not every day you can have a small dragon ally shooting fire, ice and lightning at your enemies, but this is the norm in Neorj, a stunning early access 3D platformer bursting with elemental spells from the developer duo Thunderclap. Take the reins as Heli, a mysterious woman searching for a way to free the good spirits ensnared and sealed away within numerous different worlds. At the center of her journey is a room filled with portals, each leading to a new land fraught with perilous dangers but also magical spells to learn from each spirit that is released. With a huge skill tree at your back, and many allied creatures to team up with, Heli's mission will be wondrous but challenging, engaging with foes and utilizing her own defensive maneuvers, alongside the fireballs of a baby dragon!
I can jump, I swear!
The core gameplay for Neorj is centered on platforming, and although it is still very early in its' development, the actual movement and feel of Heli is really good, I felt no lag nor did she have a desire to skate off of ledges. Much to my relief. However, I struggle with using a mouse and keyboard combination in 3rd person titles, especially since precision is key to not falling. Also currently there is a fixed camera, which was probably my biggest foe in the demo, as it was not a fan of allowing me to see what was coming and instead of letting me take many a leap of faith. There is a silver lining to this though, in that the player can take control of Heli's ally, and being that this is a flying dragon in the demo version, it was a perfect touch for scouting ahead.
Mother of Dragon?
Combat follows an interesting setup, as to use abilities the player must be controlling Heli, which makes sense as she is the one with the spells. Plus since your ally is free to move through the sky, it would render your mage a bit useless if they could wipe out enemies before she had even glimpsed them. Attack magic though does seem to come from your summoned creature when cast, whereas defensive rock walls and waves are controlled by Heli herself. This could almost lead to a more strategic battle plan, but without full control of your companion whilst attacking to maybe target with more accuracy, the two act more as one, and there was a lot of blind clicking while sprinting. But something I am excited about is the scale of the spell tree, there looks to be quite an arsenal and lots of potential for awesome combos.
Pink trees and purple snakes?
Neorj is indeed a visual stunner, colors are striking and even from two level designs, I am already itching to see what is on the horizon. Some screen shots have been released depicting an ice map (oh good, platforming's best friend!), a cave or underground cavern, and a moonlit glade. Everything is brimming with detail, adding to the mystery and intrigue of each area. As the player, will we learn more about each world, what it is, why we are here or is this something that is not really a focus? Very little has been revealed about the narrative of Neorj, and I am certainly curious to see if certain aspects like the desolate landscapes and companions will be explained. Something I did find fantastic though was the animation for the snake enemies once defeated, the boneless collapse was oddly creepy, especially when it was stuck to my foot!
What is behind portal number 2?
In all honesty, I did have a little trouble with the demo at first, finding my feet with the controls proved to be the biggest challenge, but once I learned the mechanics and got into the swing of things I really started enjoying it. Although I would very much like a controller option, then I will show those platforms how it is done! There is still a ways to go for Neorj, but I am liking it thus far, and with some smoothing of camera management it is shaping up to be a really interesting game. The taster given in the demo is just enough to wet the old appetite, so I for one will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for more news to come, as Heli's adventure unfolds.
Invested yet? If you are and want to know more about Neorj, I have added a link here to their Indiedb page, which shows all of the latest news from the developers, as well as links to their social media and where you can download the demo yourself and give it a spin!
Spirits of good, your savior approaches. Master the arcane arts in the spellbinding universe of Neorj!
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