At first glance, Neon White might look like a first-person shooter, but it really isn’t – or not quite. It plays like a shooter, but the focus is more on speed running through levels. It also pulls elements from the visual novel genre to tell a pretty deep story. During a recent demo, director Ben Esposito explained how these pieces fit together. I have to say I’m intrigued.
Neon White lets you run, jump, and shoot from the first person perspective, but the levels are short. Most can be completed in under a minute. The idea is to play and replay each level, earning rewards while finding an optimal path to the end and reducing your completion time in the process.
Screens – neon white
Between levels, the story plays out like a visual novel as you learn what’s going on alongside White, your amnesiac character. It turns out that heaven, the eternal paradise, has been infested with demons. To eradicate them, God recruited a group of assassins from Hell. You play as one of the assassins, all of whom wear masks and have nicknames based on colors. You can chat with the other characters in a central area called Central Heaven.
stairway to Heaven
A unique aspect of Neon White is the weapon and ability system. In each level you collect different cards that represent weapons with which you can destroy enemies. But each card also has an ability that you can use by discarding it. These skills are crucial to complete the levels as quickly as possible.
For example, the Elevate card lets you fire a pistol, but putting it down allows you to double jump. The Godspeed map is a sniper rifle, but scrapping it will give you a horizontal dash in the air. Or, if you fancy something more explosive, the Dominion map works as a rocket launcher. Throw it away and you can zip-line to any surface. There’s a lot of variety, but the cards are placed in fixed locations in each level, limiting your options.
To encourage you to play levels multiple times, the game offers a variety of rewards that you can achieve. For example, if you finish within a certain time frame, you’ll unlock the leaderboard or ghost of your best run so you can compete against it to get a better time.
Each level also has a prize hidden in a secluded area. Prizes can be gifted to other assassins between levels to strengthen your relationships. Developing better relationships unlocks a range of rewards, including new lines of dialogue, memories of your past life, and entirely new levels to complete as side quests.
These side quests tend to be more difficult than the standard levels and revolve around specific themes. For example, Violet’s levels are full of spikes that you have to avoid as you jump from platform to platform. You cannot use your card’s abilities in Yellow’s side quests. Instead, you must find clever ways to use enemies and weapons to reach the end.
Neon White is looking pretty good so far and I’m excited to get some hands-on time with it to see how it plays for myself. It is slated for release later this year for Nintendo Switch and PC.
Chris Reed is the business editor at IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @_chrislreed.
https://www.ign.com/articles/neon-white-preview-hands-on-speedrun-fps-pc-nintendo-switch Neon White Preview: Handy with a high-speed FPS