neofeud1.jpg
Neofeud's future is not shiny and chrome, it's a tangled mess of clashing styles. In true cyberpunk fashion, scrapped technology meets body modification and robotics. Consequently, the game's art style is all over the place and its music is infused with old modem dial-up sounds. It's such a wonderful, ambitious mess.

It's 2033 and advances in robotics didn't quite lead to the bright transhumanist future everyone envisioned. Conscious machines are humanity's unwanted bastard children. Defective, legally conscious, but unhirable, they are shuffled through public housing and welfare assistance, straining the already overburdened social safety net.

All the while, the 1%, or 'Neofeudal Lords', live high above this landfill in floating neon structures, living the lives of de-facto gods. It is a poignant version of wealth inequality, taken to its extremes. Developer Christian Miller is no stranger to facing this kind of injustice. He describes growing up in one of the poorer areas of Hawaii but attending school in one of its wealthier parts as "living in two worlds, having inequality shoved in your face every day."

Working as a STEM teacher with underprivileged kids further cemented his views on a society where the marginalized struggle while there's a tourism-friendly postcard-paradise not too far away. "Cyberpunk dystopia," he claims, "is already here. It's just [that] human society is very good at papering over the more dystopic parts."

"The world of Neofeud is sort of taking my own experiences and cranking the knobs up to 11. It's a world where the marginalized (robots and chimera part-humans) have to pass a 'consciousness test' to even be *considered* a person, and are easily discarded, disappeared, used for borderline slave-labor, or to prop up a prison-industrial complex. These characters and events are all based on my own experiences, and are much less 'fictional' than one might expect."

In Neufeud, you play as Karl Carbon, an ex-cop turned lowly social worker who has to make sure that the city's robot population gets treated (somewhat) fairly. Things start to go sideways when a renegade time traveller shows up and Karl is drawn into a conspiracy that could very well threaten the strained fabric of Human-Robot-Hybrid relations. And that's just the beginning.

neofeud2.jpg

Granted, a lot of this is "just" good cyberpunk in the vein of Gibson, Dick, and Stephenson. However, the world building is something else. It has a thickness, a density to it. Almost every line of the game's technobabble fleshes out the game world some more. If that's your thing, the game is immensely enjoyable.

Neofeud has a few issues, such as some awkward action sequences and what is possibly the most annoying, offensive character you're ever going to meet in a videogame. You'll know him when you meet him and you'll love to hate him, believe me. Come to think of it, none of Neofeud's characters are really likeable. But then, there's little room for being a good person when the world around you is messed up, I guess.

Still, this is an ambitious, atmospheric cyberpunk scenario and essentially the work of a single person (voice acting excluded). Oh, and it might also be one of the best adventure games I have played in a while, so there's that.

Meanwhile, Christian Miller is hard at work on his next game, Dysmaton, which promises some post-apocalyptic science fiction and an escalating interstellar cold war. Not the cheeriest outlook, but it seems apt considering the fact that we're all headed to hell in a handbasket right now.

Before that happens, you should probably purchase Neofeud from itch.io or Steam. For more information, follow Christian Miller on Facebook or Twitter.