Review: Neon White – First Person Shooter or Platformer? Now I finally know what it is! - Recommended Badge

The mixture of first-person shooter and platformer convinces stylistically, narratively and with exciting races against time.

No wonder that neon white is firstly unusual and secondly good: Ben Esposito, who is primarily responsible for it, not only worked on Giant Sparrow on The Unfinished Swan and What Remains of Edith Finch, but also developed a kind of inverted Katamari with Donut County . Because a raccoon creates holes in it that simply swallow everything that is above them, i.e. blades of grass, pets, garden fences, people, houses, mountains, the whole world. Was just on sale on Steam and will definitely be back. Be sure to take a look!

Mainly I want to draw your attention to Neon White, because not only did it appear fresh, but it’s also a whole lot bigger than the funny raccoon nonsense. When the game was announced, I was still wondering what it was actually about. Well, it was obvious that you shoot and jump through a kind of obstacle course in order to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. But why are you holding cards instead of weapons and is it more of a shooter or platformer?

It is clear that you have to shoot and jump through 100 levels. Exactly how this is done is, however, quite unusual.

Esposito doesn’t have it that way with conventional concepts, because his current production is both at the same time and then again different – wrapped in a mysterious story about martial races, the winner of which gains access to the kingdom of heaven. After all, you play a neon, i.e. demon hunter, who is dragged out of hell to take part in these time trials. At least that’s what he was told by those “believers” who introduce themselves as God’s helpers and soon let them look a little deeper…

But why the competition at all? Why can’t you take off the white mask while other neons are also wearing red, yellow or green masks? Apparently, the demon hunter known as Neon White knows these people from before, but can’t remember either them or the reason he went to hell. The fact that you unlock new levels with a cat with a cigar in its mouth is the smallest of all special features.

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Neon White has weird friends there…

Esposito seems to have a knack for scenarios that are somehow funny and at the same time interesting enough to linger on. It’s not just about getting through a whopping 100 levels somehow. You simply unlock them one after the other, but getting through them is just the beginning. Rather, there is a bronze, silver, gold and platinum medal in each stage – logically according to the time it took you – and only by dusting off gold every now and then you get access to later levels.

Heavenly Olympia

Now that’s easily doable. But I won’t settle for gold when there’s platinum! And I’m certainly not satisfied with being somewhere at the bottom of the online rankings! So I start again and again to keep improving. Of course, that’s not enough for the top. But the often tricky platinum medal alone is a great reward.

At the latest in boss levels it is not so easy to grab the platinum medal.

In any case, the way in which this is done is unusual. Sure: time trial shooters already exist and here too you shoot at demons (that’s all black, what you see on screenshots and in videos) while jumping from platform to platform. The only special thing is that you don’t pick up weapons directly, but instead find cards of which you can carry a maximum of two. And they then fire at the push of a button like pistols, shotguns or assault rifles, only have limited ammunition and therefore disappear if you don’t pick up new cartridges from other cards.

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The elegant card jump

And now the real trick: The cards also disappear when you use their secondary function, and that has nothing to do with ballistics! Instead, you activate a double jump with the “pistol”, fly a few meters in the targeted direction with the “shotgun”, stomp on the ground with the “machine gun” to cause great damage there, and throw a type of grenade with the assault rifle that not only destroys multiple demons, but Neon White also serves as an explosive springboard.

That’s right, it has something to do with ballistics. But the point is that you trigger movement actions via the weapons or cards and therefore have to constantly decide between jumping and shooting. Initially, it’s still idiot-proof structured. You only have one dash to cross the only abyss, or one last shot to eliminate the last demon.

With the dash of this weapon you glide a few meters over deep chasms. If you hit an opponent, he’s killed immediately. This applies to all acrobatic skills and is an important element in progressing through the levels.

However, there are quickly a multitude of possibilities, for example if you could destroy exploding barrels with a shot, a stomp or the always available melee combat in order to be blown up high. Which action do you use and which do you save for the upcoming obstacle? That’s what it’s all about – although killed demons of one type always drop the same card, so you can plan each run precisely.

Every now and then you have to tinker around in peace, in order to then cleverly switch between the cards in the following attempt and sometimes trigger the primary, sometimes a secondary function, which every now and then very studiously knots my brain! But if you have discovered a brisk route and after dozens of attempts you are finally rewarded with a fast time, it feels all the better. Whoever plays with a mouse and keyboard naturally has a great advantage in international competition. But even with the gamepad control, all the finesse are well in hand.

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First the work, then the knowledge

Oh, and the speed runs are not enough. In each level there is a gift that is often well hidden, but in any case not easy to reach, which you could present to one of the characters you are talking to in the central sky when the time comes. You can return there at any time to unlock new levels with Mikey the cat, have a drink with Neon Red in the bar or meet Neon Violet in the park, i.e. get to know the world.

Special challenges clear the way to Neon White’s memory.

In this way you become familiar with the characters and with every second gift you also get access to particularly challenging levels without competition, in which the mere achievement of the goal is no picnic. You could ignore them, but that’s the only way Neon White will remember his mysterious… friends at some point? So, as optional as the search for the gifts is, it is crucial to uncovering the full story.

Neon White – test conclusion

And with that, Neon White is a well-rounded affair in every respect, because even if it always remains a manageable platformer, Ben Esposito packs the seemingly profane speedruns into a motivating whole that constantly lures with an interesting insight here, beckons with a medal there, further unlocks a new challenge and then rolls out the leaderboard. The fact that the hunt for demons in the cloud city with its small towers, green gardens, curved archways and luxury apartments also meets my sense of aesthetic minimalism and, to top it all off, runs excellently on the Steam Deck, is just the icing on the cake of this fine ego card -Speed ​​Shooters.