Neon White Review – Holy Hell

In 2021, while Interview with creator Ben Esposito about Neon White coming out after that, he told me he’s not trying to make a game that appeals to everyone. He wanted Neon White to attract “really specific people.”

In other words, as Esposito said in one of the game’s trailers, it’s a game for “freaks.”

I guess that makes me weird. Because Neon White is my favorite game that I’ve been playing all year – with big profits.

You take on the role of Neon White; a dead assassin dragged from the Underworld to compete with the gods. Demons swarm Heaven, so the Powers are tasked with White and a bunch of damn cleaning up the mess. The banished soul with the best score – and fastest – will win the chance to spend eternity in Heaven. They do this by running as fast as they can through the various districts of the Pear Gate, blowing away demons with a variety of heavenly guns.

With rare exceptions, playing through any individual Neon White level takes less than a minute. From the jump, it emphasizes that you play as fast as you can all the time. It also emphasizes the level of playback for better and better times. Running and jumping feels great; they are flexible, fast and make a floating impression throughout a level.

But it’s the guns where Neon White shines. You pick up guns through cards located in a level, each with two functions. The first is simply shooting. The second option, however, is the discard option, giving White a short platform advantage. Disposing of pistols gives a double jump, shotguns shoot you in the direction you are facing, rifles fire straight ahead, SMGs injure you towards the ground and rocket launchers give you a grappling shot.

Levels require mastery of all these options; You have to run, shoot, jump and use loot at the right time to get to the finish line and kill every demon in a level. I love to try and retry levels until I finally get the right combination of moves, and then I love, even more, trying to get my time down to a point “Ace”. My heart often sits tight in my throat as I cross the finish line, and few things feel better than literally skipping my time by a mere tenth of a second.

From a mechanical foundation, Neon White was designed with the idea of ​​speed in mind. More than that, it seems to be designed around Videos on YouTube of the game break the game speed, fly through the levels with high precision like a well-equipped ballerina. Especially in the second half of it, you will feel as cool as those videos.

Fly over enemies, shoot as you launch rockets above them, plunge down to earth to slide over narrow ledges, grapple your way back into the stratosphere, then use explosions to unleash pulses around the finish line. Do it all in seconds without mistakes, feeling as easy as if you’ve been practicing for years, not just 15 to 20 minutes; that’s the basis of Neon White, not just the high level game. It’s remarkable with such precise and complex gameplay to feel so effortless, but Neon White managed to do it every turn. It’s one of the most fun games I’ve played in years.

In fact, I can’t stop playing it. Almost 30 hours on, I don’t plan to stop until I’ve reached ace in every level. Luckily, the level design is top-notch and, save for two or three exceptions, rarely gets annoying. I’m still flying in the game, beating all my previous ones and loving almost every second. I don’t even care about the global rankings, personally first, because I don’t think I’ve ever cared much about rankings in any other game.

I even loved Neon White’s stupid but charming story – the story of White trying to figure out why he and his team of fellow assassins died. It worked for me more than I expected. Since the story is told through visual novels, I felt compelled to explore each character’s backstory, giving them gifts to unlock new dialogues and side quests. In my moments of weakness, I even burst out laughing at obnoxious lines like when Neon Violet said Neon White was a nice guy, “The kind that would make girls spit with their mouths!”

It also helps to alleviate the itchiness caused by Neon White cosmetically. It’s reminiscent of Japanese action games that don’t really exist anymore, like Killer7 and El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. It’s reminiscent of anime like Trigun and Cowboy Bebop and the music of now defunct bands like Drop Dead, Gorgeous and The Blood Brothers. Its heavenly yet non-violent aesthetic is sleek, striking, and full of attitude. Like the t-shirt part of a Hot Topic and the anime walkway of a Suncoast Video collide. You can imagine videos playing through the 480p Neon White channel set to “The show must go on” or “Love rhymes with hideous car bodies. “You can imagine seeing kids in bright Neon White shirts at a Taste of Chaos tour day. Hell, Steven Blum even voiced White!

If any of that makes sense to you, you’re the “really specific” that Esposito made this game with. If the above reads like another language, you might still like Neon White, but you’re not the main demographic.

Neon White achieves everything it claims to with considerable success. Not only is it one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve played in years, but it speaks to very specific audiences that many no longer have. It’s for eccentrics, strays, and dorks. Neon White is one of the best games of the year, and it would be a huge mistake not to check it out.

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