Neon White Review – IGN
Neon White is a good mix of lightning-fast platform gameplay, fast-paced and hectic battles and a distinctive card-based resource system, a smooth and special fast-paced FPS that is easy to understand but hard to put down. Think of Doom Eternal’s platform sections, just replace the gloomy landscapes of hell with the floating architecture of an abstract sky, and you’re part of the way there. Add a bit of Trials HD trying to ride the perfect route over the body of the Mirror’s Edge, and you’re even closer. With its precise and elegant controls and its eerie ability to make even the average shooter feel agile and deadly, it’s extremely easy to be lured into the Neon White loop, even if the story that puts it all together immediately surpasses the welcome.
Neon White’s strange premise – which sees sinners being picked from purgatory to serve as parkour pest exterminators, and which removes a demon attack in the sky as part of an annual competition where the winner gets to stay there – sounds absolutely interesting on paper. In practice, however, it turns much of Neon White into a visual novel for young adults in which a bunch of colorful, dead millennials reminisce about their past lives and quarrel a bunch. I appreciate the effort to slow down and add context to the 12 chapters and 97 levels the developer Angel Matrix has built here – instead of just shooting them directly into our blood vessels non-stop, that is – but overall, Neon White is a little over- a confident mix of pop-punk Christianity and anime that did not capture me. You can fast forward through it, but it is always there.
This provides a lot of chat to wade through outside the otherwise impeccable puzzle platform, provided by a group of gothers, training brothers and cloud-riding capsule games that are as annoying as they are horny. It is the titular White, a slender man who wears three belts – none of which appear to be attached to his trousers – and who likes to stand with his shoulders pulled back and his crotch pushed forward. Then there is Violet, a knife-wielding elf with an infantilized voice who wanted to open an external garage door, and who seems like a woman dotting her ransom letters with love hearts. There is also a cigar-chomping cat, a BDSM redhead in the collar and a studded meat head. It’s like the first page of a Deviantart search up here.
If this is exactly what you are looking for, you are in luck. For me, I honestly can not say whether the dialogue is deliberately bad or accidentally bad – but I guess it is probably insignificant, because there is no real difference in the end result.
Undo, undo, repeat, repeat
Despite the fact that there are large plates of this visual novel regularly wedged around in Neon White, it is a testament to the quality of the action itself that it is well worth enduring. Inside the levels themselves, Neon White gets its very own identity, where the sense is elbowed aside for absolutely razor-sharp FPS action.
The goal? Kill all enemies and reach the exit as fast as possible. The catch? Each level is a parkour puzzle, and reaching the end of the allotted deadlines requires sensible juggling of the limited weapon and ability cards. Why are they short? Aside from making White briefly look like an edgy street magician in the intro film, I do not know – but it works. Each card gives White limited use of a weapon, along with the use of a one-time secondary ability. The pistol turns into a double jump, the rifle a high-speed air-dash, and the machine gun a destructive grenade that acts as a vertical boost. Shotguns turn White into a sailing fireball, rocket launchers become grip hooks, and SMGs become devastating pounds.
Using an ability to clear a gap, break an obstacle or destroy an enemy burns the card that gave it – but there’s always another. The great thing about Neon White is that the exact selection of cards you need to reach a level is always there – it’s just up to you to collect and execute them all in the perfect places. This ended up being a lot less scary than I had feared, since it’s a very well thought out visual language at work in Neon White. With sharp and simple graphics and very conscious use of color, Neon White usually makes it pretty clear which direction you need to travel, the barriers you can break, and the gaps you need to jump. It is remarkably intuitive, and seeps into my brain before I even realized it. There were definitely cases where I found myself jumping into a void during a first run through a level and dying without a clear idea of where I was going, but this was the exception.
As a result, Neon White has not only a fantastic sense of speed, but also a fantastic ability to flatter you. There were probably many occasions during Neon White where I felt like the greatest dead parkour assassin in the universe; breathless moments where I had reached the end of a level and picked up my trophy by blocking and blasting at the seat of my pants, and it felt like watching the footage. someone else playing. Some much better than me. For a truly outstanding shooter, Neon White’s ability to make you feel like you look good to play it is a real credit.
Even better, the faster you go, the more it encourages you to do so keep Improve – first by giving you your own ghost to chase, and then by revealing new shortcuts to you. After mastering the moves, I found myself looking for other hidden jumps and pieces of level geometry that could be scaled or exploited. It hooks you into the loop for just one more try. Levels can take between 10 and 20 seconds to a few minutes, although the sweet spot appears to be around a minute or less. The longer levels and boss fights towards the end of Neon White introduce a powerful new card and some new traversing techniques, but I found these to be quite tiring due to their punishing lengths. Without intermediate level checkpoints (and extremely limited health), the longer levels are frankly more frustrating than fun.