Death, life’s only inevitability… Well, that and taxes. Waking up surrounded by faces both new and familiar, White finds himself in heaven with no recollection of how he died or who he is. Demons are invading heaven and running rampant and instead of fighting them themselves, “The Believers” have decided to make a game of it. In Neon White, White is tasked to compete against his fellow dead sinners, referred to as Neons, to take down as many demons as possible, with the winner gaining all the privileges that come with living in heaven. Join White as he shoots and carves his way through hordes of demons and learns more about who he was in life, his relationship with other Neons and the true intentions behind the competition.
Neon White is a first-person speedrunner platformer and what sets it apart from its contemporaries is its unique Soul Card system. You are given these Soul Cards throughout each level and each card represents a weapon you can use to defeat enemies. The cards can also be discarded to use a traversal ability; for example, the pistol gives you a double jump, the SMG gives you a stomp, the rifle gives you an air dash, etc. This invokes the same kind of feeling as a gun fight in an action movie as someone throws away their empty guns, only to pull out more guns to continue the fight. Tying your ability to fight with your platforming abilities fills the game with adrenaline pumping action and satisfying split second decisions.
Speedrunning isn’t the only thing you do in Neon White; each level has a hidden collectible to find that will challenge your platforming skills and your ability to think outside the box. These collectables can then be given to other characters between levels to let you get to know them better and occasionally unlock challenge levels with certain restrictions, such as removing your ability to use discard abilities or covering every surface with spikes. These activities are a good way to break up the game and help you calm down from the high speed gameplay of the regular levels.
- Unique adrenaline-pumping gameplay
- Collectables challenge your platforming skills
- Hanging out with other characters helps break up gameplay
So I perfected this game before writing this review. I got the best times on every level, found every collectable and beat every challenge level and a part of me kind of regrets doing that. Not because the game is bad or anything, far from it; it’s because this game has way too many levels. Not including the challenge stages, there are around one hundred levels in this game and while I was still having fun, I found that the game was starting to overstay its welcome about seventy levels in. If someone like me who plays MMOs in their spare time (games which are notorious for having too much stuff to do in them) starts to feel like there's too much stuff in the game, you know you have a problem.
Collectables near the end of the game start to become too predictable and easy to find and it’s because of the rocket launcher Soul Card; it’s the only soul card with two platforming traversal abilities. Its primary fire can be used to rocket jump your way up walls and across large gaps while its discard ability is a grapple hook. Once you get something that gives you ridiculous traversal options like that, the only thing you can really do to hide collectables is to just stick them at the very top of the level and see if the player can reach that high.
This is more of a personal nitpick but I dislike a majority of the main cast. Neon Violet is an obnoxious, quirky, overly violent Harley Quinn-esque character who I’m sure if you could look up her social media accounts, her bio would say something like “The best things in life are spilled guts, knives and kittens lol XD”; Raz the bartender is just kind of there not really doing anything and whoever they got to voice Neon Yellow cannot do a “Dude Bro jock” voice to save his life; he lays it on so thick that you can actually hear his voice box straining.
- Overstays its welcome
- Hidden collectables too predictable to find toward the end
- A good chunk of the cast fall flat
Final Score: 8/10
You know you’ve got a good game on your hands when your main complaint is that it has too much stuff in it (is that even really a complaint?). Neon White is an absolute blast to play and I could not put it down for days on end. This will definitely be going down on my list of Game of the Year contenders, for sure!
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