You probably already know, but Neurodeck is about phobias. Your enemies are different phobias, like spiders, clowns, or different feelings mixed into a shadow (a group of people laughing about you, etc.). The story is built around that, making it a pretty dark game overall.
Your run starts with one of two characters named Lei. She has three emotions, each of them has different cards in their deck and a different starting trait. The first one for example is Joy and gives you +20 on sanity and stamina. You need to unlock the other emotions and the other character with three emotions through winning a run. You’ll also unlock a new difficulty level after winning a run.
I already told you about sanity and stamina. Sanity are your health points. If your sanity reaches zero, your run ends. Stamina is the currency you need to pay for playing cards. Playing a card also costs action points (AP). Each turn you have three AP. There are several cards to gain more AP or recover stamina or sanity.
Talking about cards, there are different types of cards. For example, action cards will mostly reduce the HP of phobias, whereas items need to be played, to equip them first. Then, you can activate them (they can have several uses before they get discarded and you can draw them again). Some cards also have buffs or debuffs like giving you three angst (losing 10HP/sanity each turn for 2 turns) or can’t be played more than one time during a battle.
Aside from cards, there are traits you can get within a run which give you bonuses like “When you regain Sanity, you regain 5 Stamina” and many more. You can get these traits by taking a survey, one of several events within a run. It’s probably the best event because it’s very well built into the world thanks to its questions.
Every event gives you new little details story-wise, but you can also just skip them and get to the point if you’re not into that.
Other events are going to the gym to improve your stats (sanity or stamina), cook to get bonuses for your next battle, sleep, and many more, which are basically ways to get, swap, or remove cards. Each node gives you the possibility to choose between one of two or three events or phobias.
Strategically, the game is demanding. There is no way you’ll beat enemies without strategically thinking about your turn. Every phobia has a different strategy to get on your nerves. You need to find out how to counter them or beat them before they can use all of their methods to make you crazy.
Every emotion has several strategies to use thanks to their own deck. You can get cards tied to another emotion within a run by completing an event and use this, to try crazy new strategies.
It’s graphically very appealing thanks to the wonderful art design, character designs, and lively shadows moving around. It looks very aesthetic.
The very dark and intense atmosphere is perfectly rounded off by the sound effects that are thought through to the smallest detail (the sound of a shark breathing matches his animations excellently) and the beautiful but bleak music, giving you a feeling of hopelessness.
Neurodeck has a lot to offer but if you played Slay the Spire and other games in the genre, you’ll notice that it’s a bit light content-wise. Yeah, every run is different, there are different characters, phobias, events, cards, traits, and decks but there could be a bit more of everything (especially phobias and characters). It has to be said, that they already announced to add new features after release (like nightmare phobias, new emotions, and more).
Neurodeck is one of those very addictive roguelike deckbuilders but not just a copy of StP. If the deckbuilder-genre would be a map with nodes, Neurodeck is the one new node making your run different from all the ones before.
“Just one more..” will be your main thought while playing the game. It’s challenging and the atmosphere is unbeatable. It’s worth every cent! You should try it out if you’re into deckbuilders.