Neon White had me straining my neck with each seemingly out of attain soar — and I couldn’t get sufficient. Developed by Angel Matrix, a small workforce led by Donut County designer Ben Esposito, Neon White combines thrilling parkour motion, a late ‘90s Quake-style aesthetic, and a bonkers story that’s form of like if The Purge had been set within the afterlife. It’s like speedrunning your method by way of heaven whereas making detours to study extra about angels and demons. It’s a seemingly odd combo, nevertheless it works very, very nicely.
The premise of Neon White is definitely considerably easy at its core. From time to time, for a span of 10 days, God invitations a number of the denizens of hell as much as heaven to allow them to assist eradicate the demon inhabitants. Whoever racks up essentially the most kills will get the last word prize: a spot in heaven. These demon hunters are known as neons, and, very similar to in another competitors, they type rivalries and uneasy alliances with one another over the course of the occasion. Complicating issues is the truth that your character, Neon White, has misplaced his reminiscence and thus has no concept who, if anybody, he can belief.
The story is as unusual as it’s nice, and it performs out largely like a visible novel with some hilarious writing and scrumptious betrayals. There are even Persona-style sidequests the place you’ll be able to hand out presents to study extra about your fellow neons. Additionally, for some motive, the entire angels appear to be floating cats.
That’s the setup, however most of your time can be spent on missions. These are small platforming ranges the place the objective is to kill each single demon as shortly as attainable. And they’re very fast — phases are typically lower than a minute lengthy and most may have you whittling your time right down to below 20–30 seconds. For essentially the most half, the degrees are extraordinarily vertical parkour playgrounds, and, as you run by way of, you’ll accumulate playing cards that signify varied weapons, from machine weapons to shotguns.
Neon White isn’t actually a shooter, although. As an alternative, when you get accustomed to its distinct model of motion — which, admittedly, can take a while — you’ll understand that every thing is only a means to getting by way of the extent even sooner. Most weapons, for example, have a secondary capacity that allows you to double soar, sprint by way of the air, or smash into the bottom. Enemies, in the meantime, will drop particular weapons, and a few have their very own mobility options as nicely. (There’s a kind of demon that’s merely a floating balloon you’ll be able to bounce on.) The trick is determining the way to hyperlink all of those collectively to search out one of the best, and quickest, path by way of the stage.
I didn’t get any of this at first. Initially, I used to be messily racing by way of every degree, making an attempt to kill each demon and transfer on to the subsequent story beat. However, at a sure level, Neon White forces you to study the way it actually works. So as to progress by way of the narrative, it is advisable obtain a selected neon rank, which, in flip, means getting good instances on most ranges. I discovered myself having to replay older phases as a way to enhance my rank.
Initially, this was irritating. I used to be desirous to dig into the thriller of White and the way his previous life linked to the opposite neons; as a substitute, right here I used to be making an attempt to shave two seconds off of a run by way of a heavenly parkour playground. However, tedious as this initially appeared, these compelled replays confirmed me how the sport actually works — and now, I truly need to replay phases till I’ve perfected my run. The story can wait. Realizing all of the ins and outs of the gameplay isn’t simply enjoyable and satisfying; it additionally turns into a necessity when you’re thrown right into a boss battle.
I must also observe that, whereas repetition is a core a part of Neon White’s construction, there’s a point of openness, so that you aren’t compelled to get an ideal rating on each stage. And since every thing strikes so shortly — not solely are the phases brief but additionally you’ll be able to restart nearly immediately — these replays are a lot much less irritating than they in any other case may very well be.
On paper, Neon White sounds unusual and complicated. It’s a demon-hunting parkour shooter the place you run by way of heaven to get a excessive rating. Additionally, it’s a visible novel. However, in follow, it’s fairly easy: every degree is a puzzle, and it’s your job to determine the way to make the most of its varied parts to get one of the best time. It could take a while and some run-ins with large heads that fireside lasers at you, nevertheless it’s extremely satisfying once you pull it off — even when it leads to somewhat neck ache.
Neon White launches on June sixteenth on the Nintendo Change and Steam.