Neon White, developed by Annapurna Interactive, is a very unique game with a fascinating concept that many are certain to enjoy, and it certainly lives up to all of the hype. There’s nothing more fun and exhilarating than to rush through Heaven itself, using cards to slash or shoot demons, as fast as humanly possible. This is an indie game, but with the time and effort that was obviously poured into it, one could easily mistake it for a AAA game made by one of the top studios. As an aside, Neon White was written by OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes writer Ryann Shannon, which would explain the clever writing and wit.
Neon White follows the titular character, a ‘Neon’ in white clothes, after he dies and ends up in Heaven. With no memories, he is tasked by angels to work with the other Neons to purge Heaven of demons who have begun an invasion. The angels point out that God has already condemned them, but they’re being given a chance at redemption by cleaning up Heaven. All of this is delivered with some wit, with tongue firmly set in cheek.
It’s not all fun times, a dramatic story begins to unfold as the player progresses from level to level. Allies are found, enemies rear their masked faces, and God himself dies. The story plays out differently towards the end, depending on how many ‘gifts’ the player has obtained throughout the levels, wrapped presents containing different items that help Neon White recover more of his memories.
The art style is incredible. The characters have varied and interesting appearances. The masks look especially interesting, and during cutscenes, players can see the characters’ actual faces, giving them even more personality. The pure white skin on the characters kind of reminded me of the art style popularized by the artist Patrick Nagel, which you can see in action Rob Lowe’s cartoon series titled Moonbeam City.
The gameplay takes place in first-person, giving the player a closer look at the different levels. The earlier stages are bright white, with only black demons to contrast. These demons come in many varied forms, but all are taken down with the appropriate weapon cards. All weapons are used with cards that are picked up in the levels, and they’re hard to miss. They use standard designs, but they still look great.
Neon White is fully voiced with impeccable voice actors providing stellar work to bring the characters to life. The sound effects, each step, sword slash, and bullet fired are replayed incredibly well. The music is likewise well-made. It’s clear that no expense was spared when the developers, Annapurna Interactive, brought the game to life.
Neon White runs through levels, shooting, jumping, and slashing, as quickly as possible. Levels can be cleared in under a minute, further highlighting the game’s insistence on speed. Cards found in levels allow Neon White to use weapons, but they have limited uses. Even the sword can only be used so many times before he defaults to punching, which also has limited uses.
Some cards, like the golden gun, can be discarded to give Neon White a second, and higher, jump. This, used in tandem with level hints, allow players to clear the levels even faster. Getting from point A to point B isn’t the only objective, players will be tasked to defeat a set number of demons before the end gate will even activate.
Players can replay levels whenever they wish, and Neon White encourages this. Getting the fastest time for the Ace trophy, a level higher than gold, and getting the gift, may not be possible until certain skills are obtained in later levels. Getting gifts and Ace trophies are important both to gameplay and the plot itself, so potential runners will need to keep this in mind.
For those nervous about whether or not they can even do this, your trusted reviewer is by no means a speedrunner, and he managed to get those Ace trophies just fine, it just takes some practice. The levels are short, less than a minute, so it’s not so rough to run through a level over and over to find the optimal path.
Neon White is remarkably fun and unique, promising plenty of fast-paced action and fun characters to mow down demons at the speed of awesome. Players don’t need to be pro speedrunners to beat the game or have fun, nothing here is frame perfect, so there’s no risk of regretting a purchase because the first level is impossible. Level hints are unlocked to guide players on the optimal path, proving that the developers want players to just have fun.
Neon White is currently available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC.
Anime Corner was provided a review copy of the PS4 version of Neon White.