I’ve always had my eye on trying out Project Neural Cloud, having previously played Girls Frontline (though no longer) and liking the “auto chess” and roguelite elements. Fortunately, the RNG has blessed me with access to the closed beta, so I can finally play it without needing to fiddle with a Chinese ID and a language I don’t understand. Let’s go!
From the start, High quality is recommended though at the expense of your battery. I think Standard quality works well enough, and I’m interested in not letting my phone become a hot water bottle. There’s both chibi 3D models for combat, and 2D sprite art, the latter available in static art, animated cut-ins for Ultimate Skills, and Live2D. Live2D does not come default for all characters.
I’m a sucker for the sci-fi aesthetic as my time in Arknights should tell you. The menus are pretty clean and stylish, the overall interface, art, looking nice. I’ll need to hear more of the music to decide if I like it, but I’m pretty sure I won’t mind having it on loop. As far as visuals go, Neural Cloud‘s got some of the best in the market for furry-adjacent enthusiasts.
You can have a assigned female or male avatar, and change it at any point.
THE (not-quite) KEMONOMIMI SHUFFLE
If you’re unfamiliar with the so-called auto chess genre, most are typically PVP titles where you have to purchase units from a given selection, merge multiple copies into a stronger version, and find team synergies for a variety of effects. Placement is important due to how units may move, or needing proximity for skill effects, as you can’t control your units once a battle starts. Against other players, there can be compositions that are outright impossible to win against, or you may just be unlucky and not get the units you need.
Neural Cloud has the basic framework but is otherwise quite different from common auto chess games. For one, it’s primarily PVE focused with stages and stories to progress through. You don’t need to buy additional units from some shop, with your formation fixed to what you included in a particular squad. The unit “classes” are still there, but the synergistic traits are instead randomly obtained Function Cards. These have set effects dependent on getting a number of cards in the same family, and can be upgraded if offered the chance.
Battlefield terrain can differ from area to area, whether it be placement of obstacles or special tiles you could take advantage of. You as the player have a more active role too, thanks to active Function Skills and “Flexible Strategy” skills. Ultimate Skills can also require your input. That’s on top of your decision making in choosing your route through a given stage, and what Function Cards you decide to pick up for your composition. That’s the roguelite aspect to the game; weaving through a random distribution of stage nodes and getting hopefully good buffs (up to a loadout limit). Stalling isn’t the best option as the game will reduce defensive multipliers and increase attack ones so a battle Will end one way or another. Auto battle is “not exactly” a thing, for the main stages anyway. There’s an auto battle / repeat function for resource stages.
Upgrading your Dolls feels like an incredibly expensive affair as they have low initial level caps before you get to upgrade their Potentials (which is totally not gonna confuse me or anything), then further Breakthroughs (Neural Expansion) from duplicates or from redeeming Shards. The Neural Expansion doesn’t immediately raise them to the following star rank (a maximum of five at this stage), instead having a blank star first before it fills in. Teams are made up of five fielded units with more you can have in reserve. However, you can’t swap any of them out once battle actually begins, so do plan ahead.
There’s base building for resources and increasing your resource cap where applicable. While it’s relatively simple enough to increase the upper limit, it slightly bothers me that there’s a resource cap to begin with, and for money of all things. Oh well, I guess.
I can’t seem to check the rates in the build, but I can at least mention any safety systems. Within 60 pulls, you’ll get a 3-star from the gacha (the highest rarity), and 180 guarantees you an applicable featured unit.
I don’t think I’m going to convince anyone to not play the game, even if I were to be extremely negative in my impressions here. It’s been over a year since the Chinese release, and it’s part of a popular franchise that people have been waiting for. As it stands, I do like the game and will be looking forward to its full launch so that I can drag some anime boys home.
This is an unprecedented threat to the existence of Dolls. In face of formidable enemies and a future filled with uncertainties, the scattered Dolls grit their teeth and steel themselves as they travel in search of the slim hope of salvation.
Humankind may have abandoned them, but as the person in charge of "Project Neural Cloud", you have steadfastly set foot in this unknown land and founded the "Exiles" as you take in meandering Dolls. With you as their leader, the Exiles shall explore the secrets of the world, find a way out of this desperate situation, and uncover the truth...
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