Neon White is an unexpected contender for Game of the
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Neon White is an unexpected contender for Game of the Year. review

played on Nintendo Switch

Not everyone likes to play through games quickly, but some developers base their entire gameplay around this idea. If they succeed, even those who like to play slowly and thoughtfully, study the environment and collect collectibles will be drawn into the process. In Neon White, the ideas of speedrun are so ingeniously woven into the gameplay that everyone would like to recommend the novelty to everyone.

deeds of heaven

In the world of Neon White, the dead sinners, whom God has condemned to a terrible judgment, go to heaven and can have a chance at supreme forgiveness and a peaceful afterlife. They participate in the Ten Judgments contest and destroy the demons that have invaded the Holy Land. Those wishing to compete put on masks that explode if you try to take them off, and the participants themselves are called neons.

    Valuable advice from a sinner

Valuable advice from a sinner

Our hero is Neon White, who has lost his memory and almost immediately gets acquainted with the rest of the contestants. Neon yellow – something like a comrade of Bely, or just trying to seem like it. Neon Purple is a crazy anime girl who sticks with everyone. And Neon Red is a deadly seductress and, apparently, Bely’s former lover – he himself does not remember anything about their relationship. The main competitor of all these fraternities is Neon Green, which is showing results that the rest have yet to match. There are other neons, but they don’t go into the frame – they’re just mentioned in dialogue and all sorts of scenes.

For a game where speed of level progression is paramount, there is a surprising amount of dialogue here: both at the beginning of each story chapter and in the middle and between chapters, you find yourself in Central Heaven – a region where you interact with everyone Characters can chat separately. Don’t expect a serious story – yes, some philosophical questions are raised closer to the second half of the game, but basically there are either vulgar jokes or numerous references to movies and games. The characters find a common language very quickly, so that the dialogues turn into friendly chatter that is not without pleasure to read and listen to.

    The contingent in heaven is strange, to say the least

The contingent in heaven is strange, to say the least

Fast and stylish

To win the competition, it’s not enough just to destroy the demons – any fool would cope with such a task, because the neons got guns – it’s important to do it quickly. You reach the level, press “Start” and you have to reach the finish line as fast as possible and eliminate all opponents on the way. As long as at least one is alive, the portal at the end of the level will not open.

The first run can be seen as an introduction to the challenge. You remember where you’re running, who you’re shooting at, and so on. If you invest a lot of time, you will get a bronze medal and you can advance to the next level. However, in order to advance in the story, it is desirable to earn gold and platinum medals – if they are obtained, the rating will grow and access to the next chapters will open.

No time to stop

Neon White successfully encourages you to repeat the same level two, three, and sometimes even four times. If you get a bronze medal, a collectible will appear in the same place, and to get there you usually have to think outside the box – not walking the beaten path, but looking around and jumping in some other ways. A silver medal unlocks a ghost – you can track if you match your best score. Hints unlock for “Gold” – symbols hanging in the air indicate where you can take a shortcut and save a few seconds. Well, access to the global table of records is granted only to the best of the best who have won the “platinum”.

Gathering gets you through each level at least twice, and sometimes that’s enough – even mid-game there were tests I could do right away for platinum. But if you make half a dozen attempts, it doesn’t become routine. The levels are very short, each lasting a minute or two, so there’s no time to get bored: you’ll quickly go through one of them several times and immediately move on to the next.

    What action without red barrels?

What action without red barrels?

Only take what you need

The level variability is another reason for the fun of the game. And visually they change, and the list of mechanics is constantly updated with new ideas. As you move around the location, the character will find the so-called soul cards, which turn out to be multifunctional – with their help you can shoot and perform some other actions if you put them down. For example, with a pistol card, you either fire multiple projectiles or double jump. And the rifle card allows you to quickly charge forward.

The further, the more often the high-speed passage becomes a puzzle. The same rifle can be fired four times, after which the card will disappear due to empty clips. But even if there is at least one cartridge left, the card can discard and make a dash. So you have to decide on the fly when it’s worth shooting, and when it’s desirable to leave the map. when to use the double jump and when to save it for the second half of the level where you can cut your way to the finish line. Difficulty increases and platform puzzles get more complicated. But at the same time, the mechanics are not tired of traffic jams.

    Enemies look clumsy, but three hits and the hero is dead

Enemies look clumsy, but three hits and the hero is dead

Far from everyone is going to want to pursue high positions in the leaderboard, but leaving a level until you get platinum in it seems like a crime. Yes, and you try to find all the gifts. You give them to the characters at the central point, which not only opens bonus dialogues, but also additional test levels. They depend on the person who received the gift: somewhere you can’t discard cards, but somewhere you get into real obstacle courses where one wrong move will lead to death. Since the gameplay is immersive, there is no desire to skip unnecessary tests.

Neon White looks and sounds great. If you suddenly played Paradise Killer, the association with it will appear from the first frames – there is an equally pleasant visual style with a tendency to minimalism. There are some decoration elements in the levels, but for the most part they didn’t overload the locations – so nothing would prevent you from quickly running to the finish and not having to stumble over conditional flower pots or statues. The Switch version obviously loses compared to the computer in terms of graphics quality, but plays at 60 frames per second.

    Looks dangerous!

Looks dangerous!

Well, the Machine Girl team was responsible for the soundtrack – many jokingly say that this duet actually released an album and comes with a game as a gift. The music is very groovy and dynamic – so “electronic” is ideal for a project like this, and many will probably want to hear it separately from the game.

***

The authors of Neon White did not invent anything new, but successfully mixed many proven ideas into their game. From Quake they took filming on the run, from Mirror’s Edge – chasing platform-level records, from visual novels – likable characters who are fun to spend time with. In addition, the cards have been added in such a way that opponents of card games do not feel uncomfortable. It turned out a wonderful cocktail, in which interest is not lost until the credits roll. Such an unexpected candidate for the title of the best game of the year – bright, memorable and appeared almost out of nowhere.

Advantages:

  • dynamic gameplay;
  • I want to replay levels for medals and better results;
  • a variety of situations makes the levels different from each other;
  • collecting collectibles allows you to unlock valuable bonus content;
  • Funny dialogues and likeable characters.

Defects:

  • The graphics aren’t great on the Switch, but the game plays at 60 fps.

graphic

Pleasant minimalism makes the levels both beautiful and not overloaded with unnecessary details. The version for computers looks more solid, of course.

sound

Appropriate electronic music that you want to listen to separately from the game.

single player game

The storyline of the stars from the sky is not enough, but the different levels and funny dialogues fully make up for it.

Estimated travel time

You can beat the levels in ten hours, but you’ll spend about twice that time for in-game medals.

collective game

Not provided.

overall impression

One of the best games of the year. Familiar mechanics are combined in unusual ways and develop into a catchy and insanely fun action-platformer.

Result: 9.0/ten

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About the author

Alan Foster

Alan Foster covers computers and games and all the news in the gaming industry.

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