August 17, 2022

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Neon White is the surprise of the year |  reconsidering

Neon White is the surprise of the year | reconsidering

Heavenly work

written by Ron Forstermans on

In Neon White, you are a killer man raised by angels from Hell to enter a tournament to reach Heaven. You also lost your memory. So you never know what’s going on in Neon White. In fact, one thing is clear: you, Neon White, compete in short levels against many other Neons for a place in the God Rankings.

Practically speaking, you are basically competing for a place on the leaderboards. Because that’s what Neon White is really about: being the fastest. This is the type of game that excites you to beat the times of yourself and others. The site below is not very sensitive to this, but Neon White is a special animal. The setting works like a train thanks to the short levels, great flow, and simple shooting action.

The idea is simple: the game has short levels in which you have to run from A to B. You can do it from a first-person perspective without any more frills. But during the level you will also find cards with weapons. These cards were intentionally placed by the developer: they are part of the path. Can you find a gun? Then you can shoot.

But every card also has a secondary probability. So you can also use this pistol to make double jumps.

Thus there are more cards. With a submachine gun you can drag yourself to the ground and a rifle you can fire grenades, which you can use to launch yourself back into the air. You may already feel it coming: you use these cards to blast enemies, but you also use them to advance through the level as fast as you can.

Neon White can be better compared to a fast paced racing game, but this comparison scares a lot of people. What also doesn’t help is that Neon White looks fast and impressive. On YouTube, you see all kinds of people navigating an incomparable level. Then you might think that they have been practicing for days and that Neon White is just for the fanatics. It’s absurd, because Neon White is, at its core, very simple and accessible.

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The truth is that Neon White is doable if you have some experience with console or mouse and keyboard. Yes, it all seems incomparable, but once you get into the flow of levels, Neon White feels like second nature. The game communicates what to do very clearly and you rarely think deeply. You don’t have to worry about the card you’re betting on when the central track is self-explanatory.

Well, until you want to go faster. In Neon White, there are always faster ways than the most logical ones. You need help as a beginner to do this step, but Neon White has found a solution for that as well.

Take the fourth level. You might think after a few tries: This couldn’t be faster. I do exactly what the game wants me to do. I snapped everywhere, took all the cards: I’m the greatest sprinter in the world. Then you look at the rating and see that your friends or strangers are four times faster. They have knowledge that you don’t seem to have. The good thing is that this knowledge is often only in the game. Neon White plays an open card.

After spending a reasonable amount of time by “only” passing the level, the game tells you exactly what you need to know to go faster. At the fourth level, it’s very simple: you can be much faster by just using the double jump at first. This cuts about half the standard route. The game shows that with a kind of golden shining trail: follow that path, and you’ll go faster.

At first, this is still a great moment, but if you know how to exploit the cards, then at a certain point you will automatically sense where and how you can shave the time. This is a great feeling. Neon White is full of moments when it seems like you’re out of the game. And sometimes it is: there are levels where we are faster than the developer. The game shows it in the leaderboard.

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You can add that cool feeling to the actual gameplay. Neon White has flawless flow: the platform is lightning fast and feels right in place, while the pop is so forgiving that the goal is really just an afterthought. You can also unlock more and more cards and the environments also change in the design. In the later levels, it is already difficult to reach the end at all. So it is increasingly difficult to improve times.

But Neon White gave you all the knowledge you need, right? Yes, but only to a certain extent. As the game mechanics increase in the later levels, so do the variables. Some people take Neon White too seriously and completely abstract the mechanics. As a result, some times on the leaderboards cannot be improved without “extra knowledge”. There will come a time when you have to go to YouTube to be able to participate in the rankings.

When you do, you get to the deepest layer that every speed racing game has: the layer of perfection. This class is entertaining but ruthless. I really figured it out when he was playing on Steam. The game works great on the device, but there is no doubt that the game is played better with a mouse and keyboard. In later levels, I noticed it’s more lane with the console. So I ended up playing it on PC.

Keep in mind that Neon White is entirely possible with a console. Don’t let this slow you down if you are interested in the game. Plus, the Switch version works great. So you are not dealing with competitors who play with mouse and keyboard. But even so, if you really want to participate in the higher ratings, you have to dive deeper into the game itself. You need to know other players on YouTube or through other guides. This is not a minus, just a note.

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Neon White has many layers, but you don’t have to remove all those layers one by one to enjoy the game. Even if you play superficially, there are medals and other challenges for you to play with. This remains interesting due to the great gameplay, constant variety, and great flow. Only the story fails.

The game tells a kind of anime epic in which the characters are overwritten. The tone is a bit childish and sometimes the dialogue goes on for too long. This takes you outside the flow of levels. You can also give gifts to other characters in the hub world that you have collected. Sometimes these gifts unlock unique levels that are super fun, other times they unlock more dialogue. The second hardly appeals to us.

We’d have liked a mode without the story, but is that a reason to skip Neon White? of course not. It’s just a drawback: Neon White is so well made that it stands proud if the story doesn’t obsess you. Just skip Neon White if you don’t like the old “this might be better” game principle. Whatever its accessibility, you need a little intrinsic motivation to enjoy the game. It also helps a lot if you have friends who also play the game. This mutual competitiveness always brings you back to the old levels.

If you like to challenge yourself and don’t get carried away by the leaderboards, you can probably hardly put up a Neon White like me. You are constantly testing faster ways in the levels and thus you end up steadily in the well-known speed racing whirlpool: be faster, learn, be faster again. One learns by doing. You only know if you try. Then run another one.

Neon White is now available on PC and Nintendo Switch.