Neoverse: Trinity Edition may sound like some bizarre Matrix fan fiction, but it's the latest challenger to the deck building throne currently occupied by Slay The Spire (with Monster Train a close second).
It's a game that offers some fun mechanics but struggles with its presentation and some technical blemishes on the Switch.
Ready, Set, Draw
Neoverse's mechanics are solid
There's essentially zero story in Neoverse, and while that worked for many of its genre contemporaries, it's a little baffling here. There are a handful of cutscenes after all, showing your playable character in action-packed battles against enemies, but it all feels superfluous.
That's because despite it's shiny, 3D animations and impressive effects, it really is focused on the mechanics we've come to be addicted to over the last few years.
You'll draw cards for one of your two characters (there's a third to unlock), and spent action points to play them in your turn. Some cards will let you attack, others offer status effects, and some are defensive. Sure, it's not even close to breaking the mould, but it's still a lot of fun.
A big part of that is in Neoverse's commitment to character builds. There are preset decks which focus on the likes of damage, radioactivity and more, and these basic setups can then be augmented with additional cards as you push through.
These additional cards can be accrued from nabbing them from the in-game store, which can be done at almost any time – tweaking your offensive and defensive options while on-the-go. It's a far cry from the challenge of making it to the next location on Slay The Spire, although it does rob the six-to-eight hour campaign of some of the risk and reward offered by having to reach a certain spot to upgrade your arsenal.
There are also new mechanics like parrying (ensuring an enemy's attack is entirely cancelled out by your armour) and precision (reducing their HP to exactly zero for a gold boost), which add some unique flair.
Despite its 3D art, the game struggles with performance.
Of course, the most noticeable change from many of its more rudimentary-looking peers is in Neoverse's art direction.
While it's undoubtedly on the generic side, it certainly looks brighter and glossier than other similar titles, but that comes at a cost. For one, performance on the Switch in both handheld or docked is pretty rough.
The game constantly feels like it's dropping frames, which while not game-breaking in a turn-based title, does reveal a lack of optimisation. We're no developer, of course, but we'd have happily seen some of the visual fidelity dropped to enable a smoother experience.
Arguably Neoverse's biggest issue, though, is in its lack of tutorial of narrative cohesion.
The story is built around a trio of female characters in skintight outfits, but there's little reasoning given for their journey or any real character development. It often feels like jumping into a TV show halfway through a season, although thanks to the costumes (particularly the unlockables), you can often feel a little like you don't want anyone to walk in and ask what you're doing.
It's sure to appeal to plenty, but for us, it felt a tad gratuitous in places.
Despite a fun, if derivative, combat system, Neoverse never truly feels like it shines thanks to disappointing performance on Switch and a story that feels nonsensical and non-existent all at once.
If you're a fan of the rogue-lite card-battling genre and have exhausted the best the genre has to offer then you may find some enjoyment in its flexible card buying system and varied character builds, but if not, it's tough to recommend.
Review copy provided by the publisher.Reviewed on Nintendo Switch