Developer: TavroxGames & GoblinzStudio
Available on: Steam, Nintendo Switch
Deck-building games always seem to be hit or miss with me, but at first glance, Neurodeck piqued my interest from the very beginning. As someone who has always struggled with mental health and is an advocate for awareness, I was incredibly curious about what a deck-builder could offer. I have to say that Neurodeck did not leave me disappointed.
Each run-through consists of a ‘Session,’ and you are prompted to start a new one upon each launch of Neurodeck. This makes for more “bite-sized” gameplay, allowing you to work around busy schedules or around defeating your phobias, which is what the game is all about. On starting a new session, you are prompted with the warning that the deck is a tool that you will use to explore personalities and the psyche of various subjects.
After stating that you understand the risks, you are met with characters to choose from, some of which can only be unlocked by successfully completing game runs. This gives you a general overview of where the character is currently in their life. Once you make your selection, you are given the choice of what emotion you’d like to explore in the session. Similar to the character unlocking, some of the emotions are not unlocked until completion of the game, but each emotion gives you a different variation to your stats in the run-through or Session.
Your Neurodeck is super tiny, to begin with, allowing you use of only a small handful of cards from which to fight your first Rank 1 Phobia. I appreciated the simplicity of the gameplay mechanics for battling the various phobias. The screen is set up like most deck-builders, and the developers didn’t overdo the tutorial or flood you with too much information all at once.
Neurodeck seems to be one of those “Easy to learn, more difficult to master” kinds of situations. The goal is pretty simple; you have to use your cards to defeat the Phobia before your Phobia depletes your Sanity completely, with a limited amount of Stamina, which is used up with actions from the cards in your deck.
As you go against higher ranked Phobias, you have to be more deliberate and careful thinking about what move you are going to make, compared to how much Stamina and Sanity you have left.
At the end of each successful battle against your Phobia, you are allowed to choose another card to add to your deck along with your next destination, which can have many effects from giving you more cards to deleting cards or evolving your card into something better or altering your base stats or traits that you can equip.
The Phobias you battle in Neurodeck are pretty common ones and easy to relate with as there is a chance that, at the very least, someone you know, if not yourself, battles one of these phobias in their everyday life. The cards you use to assist you in your Phobia battles also make sense and are not off-the-wall techniques or ideas. They’re more common activities like “Writing in your diary” or “Comfort Food” or “Big Cleaning.” And they get more complex and efficient as you successfully complete your Phobia battles, giving you access to a much better equipped Neurodeck.
As a bonus, In between Phobia battles, you are met with the option to read the dreams of the character. From what I’ve seen so far, these are extra and don’t pertain to actual gameplay, but they are deep and well-written, and I have enjoyed reading them all so far.
All this being said, I’m not sure Neurodeck will cure me of any of my Phobias any time soon, but it brings more awareness, light, and even fun to an area where more is always needed.
Thanks go to Future Friends Games for providing the Steam review key for Neurodeck.