Neon White – Zero punctuation

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Oh Yahtzee, you should do Diablo Immortal. It’s a bit dull and the camera zooms in too close, and it’s also the most insidious evil that has ever been squeezed out of BeelzeBlizzard’s black thorny anus. Sounds like you already know how you feel, viewers. Why would I make myself miserable all week just to reformulate established general opinions through a lens of dots and gradually change the title to something irreverent. Tell you what, let’s just list all the things I would have called it right now: Diablo Immortal, Diablo Immoral, Diablo Impoverishing, Diablo Income Statement, Diablo In A Gadda Da Vida Baby. Let us now move on and try to spread some much-needed positivity instead. And you know what makes me feel positive: new indie games I had not heard of before, but which I really like. The Escapist has a common list of games for review that I always try to steal the juiciest carrots from before the 3MR guys got sober Monday morning, and Neon White caught my eye when it described itself as a first-person sprinter. And I’m growing a growing interest in speedrunners, mainly because I feel that someone needs to keep an eye on these people before an unexpected Mountain Dew shortage occurs and they burn down all of our cities.

And after playing it, yes, I guess you can call Neon White a first-person shooter in that it’s first-person and you shoot things, but the enemies can not move and have all the dynamic characterization of the hurdles on a sprint track. Actually, it is a first-person platform game for speed tasks, where the challenge in each level is to find the fastest route to squirt all the mandatory kills and hit the exit. The unique game mechanics are that you pick up weapon cards that you either shoot in the usual boring way with weapons or throw to use a kind of traversing force that is unique to that gun – the gun gives a double jump, the rifle a shot in the air, the rocket launcher has a grip hook which means that if the also dispensed shrimp cocktail flavor jumps from the shaft, then I will officially not need anything else in my life. And I can definitely see the general line at the heart of this idea. It’s something in itself cool, if not terribly environmentally friendly, by throwing used weapons in the middle of an action scene. Like in the lobby scene of the first Matrix movie, or the one guy from Overwatch who probably has more spare weapons on him than an American lost property department in high school.

Why the weapons must be presented as short I am a little less aware of; maybe if you can somehow describe yourself as a “card fighter”, then you are entitled to a tax deduction from the government for indie games. And the last ingredient is a visual novel element, (saliva). No, that’s okay, I guess. It’s good to distinguish between the intense sprint challenges with a bit of downtime by hanging out with some anime characters, or more accurately, characters from an online series drawn by a freshman watching too much anime. I do not hate the story, it’s just a little… young, I guess. You play an edgy dude in a suit with too many belts, voiced by the great Steve Blum wearing his Cowboy Bebop hats, and he was once part of a CRIME GANG that operated more in line with a three-cabin club for best friends, and passed of bog standard archetypes: slacker idiot friend, hot girl, loud girl. Loud girl who shows the usual slightly reckless online comic student definition of madness: likes violence, has staring eyes and generally behaves like a manic twelve-year-old who recently got his head caught in a stomach dispenser.

Still, at least the plot is pretty easy to understand. Our hero, White, named after his favorite Beatles album, is dead and in purgatory, but he and his chromatic comrades are called to heaven because they are like the best wooden house club for best friends ever involved in crime, and they are needed to Fight an invasion of demons, and whoever does the best work will be left in heaven as God’s personal rat catcher. A lot of Neon White gives me a Suda51 vibe. The optimistic tone, the visual style, the grandiose theme, the way each character is a super cool assassin because Suda51 apparently is not aware that other jobs exist, only the story and the writing have the slightly eye-roll-inducing wannime vibe. Wannime is when something non-Japanese affects the look of Japanese anime, just to save you a trip to the dictionary, and when I turned to the developers to confirm that they were not Japanese, it turned out that the main designer was Ben Esposito, the guy. who made Donut County and a few other things, but which I mainly remember because his last name would be a very good name for a spaceship. “Captain, we have confirmed that the larvae of the Andromedan plague have completely overtaken Esposito Station.”

But I deviate. Just to repeat myself, I did not mind the anime stuff even when at times you can physically sense the constant longing to get to the beach episode. In fact, I felt motivated to find all the hidden gifts on each level to unlock each bonus call. It is not a complex relationship system; each character has only one gift they like. Personally, if I got nineteen bottles of perfume, I would take it as a digging into my personal hygiene, but it really got the interest in hot girl love to open up, in several senses of expression. Not that I took the time to find hidden gifts and gold stars on each level just to moisten a fictional character’s wedge. I did it because it was fun to do it. In addition, there are bonus challenge levels you can only get from the relationship tracks, and that meant even more fun for me. FUN. F, U, N. Provides joy or entertainment. Look up, the gaming industry. In this time of widespread Jiminy Cockthroatisme, I have made it clear over and over again that I have much more time for a game that focuses on doing one thing well than I do for bloated overdesigned punk salads that simultaneously try to accommodate shooters and stealth players and single players and multiplayer and players who just want to sit in the corner and push ants up their noses.

Neon White’s core gameplay loop is not complicated, but it’s fun and noisy and challenging, and the visual novel pieces do not interrupt it so much that it takes the necessary breaks to let you catch your breath and take a Gatorade. And the game is nicely focused on the intended speed racing experience. Maybe a mistake at times. I might have appreciated some more freeform levels that focus more on stylish demon shooting than on following a very specific linear path to the end, but Neon White wants to be more of a speed puzzle than shooting, and that’s fine with me. Should more of us be so sure of what they want. Sit down in my barber chair and say “Number three buzz cut!” and I say “Yes sir!” Better than games that come in and go «Oh, I do not know, make half my head short and the other half curly and spray paint the top part green and the bottom part the color you want, so you have a sense of personal ownership to my haircut. “And then I think, ‘Fight, do not come in here with your utter indecision and say it’s to my advantage. Do not push half a pineapple into my piss hole and call it a juicer.’