Neon white, out now for Switch and PC, is easily one of the best games of the year. Between the anime vibes and the kickass soundtrack from Machine Girl, you will find a deliciously stylish sprint glove that is as easy to learn as it is difficult to master. The last few days I have not been able to put it down. Here are some tips I wish I knew before I started.
Do not think of it as a shooter
Publisher Annapurna Interactive can technical bill Neon white as a “speedrunning FPS,” but it is not quite so. It is certainly not a typical first-person shooter. Instead, think of these as actions that you must take on a regular basis, in order to solve each and every one of the demons you see along the way. Your goal is to find the fastest route through and then … succeed in pulling it off. The faster you disconnect your brain from one Doom mindset, the better Neon white You will stay.
The cards are drawn on purpose
You bring in weapons Neon white by driving through cards strewn around the map. But every gun is not just a weapon. By discarding it, you will also have a one-time passing ability – a pistol that turns into a double jump, an SMG that turns into a pound of earth, and so on. More often than not, these cards are placed exact where they need to be for you to use them. In other words, if you pick up a gun that turns into a dash, get ready to dash.
Your deck is limited
So that you do not get the wrong idea, Neon white is emphatic not a deck-building game. You can only carry two types of cards in your hand, although you (based on my testing) can hold an unlimited number of each card. Wipe your hand clean at the end of each level. Sure, you have a permanent card for a sword, but …
Melee attacks suck
You start each level with your sword and you can not get rid of it. It is functionally useless in combat; Do not waste your time trying to use it to kill demons. But if you want to save ammunition, you can use your sword to strike various useful objects in the game – explosive barrels, chests (which usually contain cards for weapons) and the like.
Nail down a run before trying to perfect it
Even if you know you’re going to finish a level with a terrible time, it’s worth seeing to the end. Just completing the level will give you the bronze medal, show you the time needed to see silver, gold or ace medals, and open up the opportunity to play that level again and find the gift (more on that in a second). Beating the silver time will create a ghost that recreates your previous fastest route, giving you a personal benchmark to compete against the mid-run. Gold gives you a hint for the level, very useful for figuring out how to win the ace. And if you do, you will be able to see the leaderboards for that level – that’s it genuine the game begins. (Beating your friends for a millisecond is a thrill.)
Get gold medals
At certain points in Neon white you will encounter a level gate: To unlock more missions, you must increase something called your neon ranking, your measurement against all the other fictional characters in the game’s story. You start in 100th place. Every time you get a gold or ace medal, you go up one place. It’s much easier to get a gold at an early level you have run through earlier than to put the first attempt at a later one.
Playing around levels you have completed also allows you to find gifts, which you can then give to other characters in the game, dating sim style. Doing so will build your relationship with them, and eventually unlock side quests – usually a skill-based trial. But only by finding gifts, Neon white becomes more about exploring than racing. There is no pressure to set a better time. (When you find the gift, the level ends.) You just poke around and try to find a colorful box with a bow on it. Neon whiteit turns out, is very, very pretty when you slow down and take in the sights.
Bonus Tip: When looking for a gift, hold on to any weapon you have. Also try to reach the highest point on the level. Sometimes you can see the glimpse of the gift, shaped like a colorful box.
Attack vending machines for extra weapons
Most levels have vending machines tucked away in some corners. Hitting one will give you a card, usually one you need to reach the level’s hidden gift. If you try to set a quick time and you have room to interact with a vending machine, you have already failed. But these are hugely useful for providing extra tricks that allow you to find gifts.
All explosions shoot you out
You can throw away an assault rifle to plant a bomb where the cursor is. Neon white says you can start yourself by skipping it right when the explosion happens, which is true, but you also do not have to time a jump. Just standing next to an explosion of some kind will automatically shoot you up in the air – and far higher than you can usually jump. There are ways to apply this knowledge for surprisingly useful effect. For example, if you knock on an explosive barrel, you will be quite tall. Knocking on two Explosive barrels will send you even higher (exact targets have not yet been determined). And you do not want to take on any splash damage, so experiment with explosives to your heart.
Try not to multitask IRL
Because levels enter Neon white is so short, usually lasting 30 seconds per piece, that you can get the impression that it’s an ideal game for multitasking – you know, fire up some emails, play a level, get back to work a little, play a level , and so on. Uh, yeah, about that. Once you start playing, it can consume your time before you even realize it, and what you are trying to “multitask” will be completely abandoned. You have been warned!