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December 20, 2022 7:07 AM   Subscribe

Neon White [YouTube][Trailer] “Describing Neon White’s genre might be more difficult than actually playing it. A “speedrunning FPS-parkour-deck-builder” sounds incredibly esoteric. But that description belies a fairly simple core loop. Each level is basically an obstacle course, with both enemies and bottomless pits to overcome. Scattered throughout are “cards” that double as weapon pickups and navigational abilities. Grab a pistol card, shoot a few enemies, then use that card’s ability for an extra jump over a bottomless pit. Simple. Throughout its 90-plus levels, Neon White does steadily increase the complexity: The obstacle courses incorporate tripwires, bounce pads, walls that can only be broken with certain weapons, and more. The difficulty (and fun) comes from stringing together these actions, like a gymnast running along a balance beam before dismounting directly onto a set of parallel bars.” [via: Polygon] BONUS: [35 Minute Speedrun (World Record)][YouTube]

• Neon White turns you into a demon-hunting speedrunner [The Verge]
“The premise of Neon White is actually somewhat straightforward at its core. Every so often, for a span of 10 days, God invites some of the denizens of hell up to heaven so they can help eradicate the demon population. Whoever racks up the most kills gets the ultimate prize: a place in heaven. These demon hunters are called neons, and, much like in any other competition, they form rivalries and uneasy alliances with each other over the course of the event. Complicating matters is the fact that your character, Neon White, has lost his memory and thus has no idea who, if anyone, he can trust. The story is as strange as it is great, and it plays out mostly like a visual novel with some hilarious writing and delicious betrayals. There are even Persona-style sidequests where you can hand out presents to learn more about your fellow neons. Also, for some reason, all of the angels look like floating cats.”
• How A Neon White Level Is Made [Game Informer]
“Neon White is about speedrunning. But it wasn’t always the case that every level emphasized that point. As Esposito tells it, before Smackdown, a lot of levels were built around the idea of teaching specific mechanics. But when work on Smackdown started, it was the first time the team tackled the idea of repeatedly playing through an individual level, optimizing times, and discovering different paths and shortcuts. Of course, Neon White still teaches you its mechanics, but Smackdown caused the team to re-look at the game as a whole. “This was specifically about exploring, ‘What if we didn’t teach you something new? What if it was about revisiting it over and over again,’” Esposito says. “And the things we ended up learning in levels like this created new ways of thinking about the rest of the game.””
• Neon White Really Is As Good As Everyone Says [Kotaku]
“Neon White is structured around a traditional mission-to-mission framework, each mission comprising a handful of individual levels. You beat one level, you go to the next. These levels go by in a blink, too, with most running around 30 seconds long. (My fastest time on an individual level is a hair over 13 seconds; my slowest, clocked during a sort of multi-stage boss fight, is 2 minutes and 21 seconds.) Cards are placed around maps with clear intentionality. There’s a “best” way through each stage; it’s up to you to figure it out—and execute it. Leaderboards compel an urge to shave milliseconds off your best records, and to run levels over and over and over until you do. Even on the Switch’s aging hardware, you can reload levels in a blink, so there’s no real drawback to beating your head against the wall of an elusive solution. All told, I guess Neon White isn’t a shooter or a platformer or a deck-builder but, rather, a puzzle game—a blisteringly paced one, wherein logic steps aside and intuition takes over.”
posted by Fizz (18 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is my pick for GOTY. It has a strong confidence in itself, with regards to both the gameplay and its aesthetic/style. It's also just fun as hell. The speedrun video is truly remarkable.
posted by Fizz at 7:23 AM on December 20, 2022

"Developers react to speedruns of their own games" is one of my favorite genres of video game commentary. The Outer Wilds devs watching an 11-minute run saying "we, uh... we made a really short game, you guys", or one of the Psychonaut devs watching a speedrunner skipping an entire level yelling "I spent a year of my life on that, come back!"
posted by mhoye at 7:23 AM on December 20, 2022 [6 favorites]

Also, for anyone wondering, the game runs beautifully on the Switch (60fps in both docked and handheld). And has gyro support too!!
posted by Fizz at 7:30 AM on December 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Good grief, this thing looks absolutely ridiculous, and went straight onto my Switch wishlist. I'm already preparing my excuses for why I score so low on it (well you see, it's winter so my carpal tunnel is acting up).
posted by mittens at 7:42 AM on December 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

I can't tell from the playthrough videos, do the guns auto-aim or snap-to at all, or is it a completely free reticle?
posted by saladin at 7:56 AM on December 20, 2022

Not my kind of game, but I really appreciate the trailer for how it actually shows and describes game play. I wish they were all like that.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:04 AM on December 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

I can't tell from the playthrough videos, do the guns auto-aim or snap-to at all, or is it a completely free reticle?

No auto-aim or snap-to. It's free reticle. I haven't properly played with the gyro-controls, I need to see how that changes the gameplay.
posted by Fizz at 8:14 AM on December 20, 2022

> No auto-aim or snap-to.

There absolutely is aim assist, and you can adjust the amount too. There's even a mode, "Insight Aiming", that auto-targets enemies.
posted by parm at 8:31 AM on December 20, 2022

There absolutely is aim assist, and you can adjust the amount too. There's even a mode, "Insight Aiming", that auto-targets enemies.

*opens up options*
*slaps forehead*

Ignore me, I don't know what I was saying. parm is correct, I think I just glitched in my brain when I opened up the settings earlier.
posted by Fizz at 8:32 AM on December 20, 2022

Probably comes from the fact that you're encouraged to use the gyro controls where they do exist, because it allows for the kind of fine aiming that joypads don't normally give you without aim assist, and that can make the game both more challenging *and* more satisfying when you pull off an amazing time.

n'thing that it's a fantastic game, and easily one of the best of the year. I put something like a hundred hours into it, got *nearly* all the platinum medals save for a few of the longer levels where I just couldn't go for long enough without a mistake.
posted by parm at 8:36 AM on December 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Haven’t played the game yet but I have been obsessed with the soundtrack for months. The developers worked with Machine Girl to hone in on compelling video game/rave tracks.
posted by Headfullofair at 9:33 AM on December 20, 2022

It's really good. For a speedrunning game it is delightfully not-demanding of my aging reflexes; I'm sure my 16yo self would have done much better, but I really don't feel like I'm being penalized for not being quite as fast as I used to as I'd expect from the genre.

I'd write a longer response but I have to get back to playing Neon White. Sorry.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:56 AM on December 20, 2022

i'm playing this on PC. i started out playing with an xbox controller and i just COULD NOT get a handle on the controls. i was about to give up. but just to see, i switched to keyboard and mouse and OH MY GOD NOW I GET IT THIS GAME RULES

i'd be interested in trying the gyro controls on the switch version but like....LT to jump is just like WHAT?!? to me

anyway this game rules.
posted by capnsue at 4:19 PM on December 20, 2022

Outstanding game concept. Someone is going to make a more Mirror's Edge parkour knockoff of this at some point and it will probably be even better. I'm sure my aging reflexes will be shot at that point though.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:27 PM on December 20, 2022

All told, I guess Neon White isn’t a shooter or a platformer or a deck-builder but, rather, a puzzle game—a blisteringly paced one, wherein logic steps aside and intuition takes over

This is pretty much how I feel about Hotline Miami, which is one of my favourite games. Neon White looks very cool, I'll be checking it out thanks to this thread!
posted by Dysk at 11:06 PM on December 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

As a designer one of my general rules of thumb is that developers speaking over a trailer is a massive red flag. If you can’t show rather than tell, go back and rethink your presentation, or even the fundamental UI/UX of the product.

This is one of the very, very few games where there’s enough conceptual complexity to justify an exception. And I fucking love what they’ve done here.

(This is a cousin to the much less strict rule that the better your UI design work, the less text onscreen. Some obvious full-genre exceptions like MMOs, conversation-heavy RPGs, etc.)
posted by Ryvar at 2:56 AM on December 21, 2022

Neon White is also a game where Judaism is true and I really appreciate it for that
posted by silby at 11:23 AM on December 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

This thing is very, very weird and fun--and I like that you can play it in microbursts. Being able to set something down easily when interrupted is, like, one of the main virtues I look for in a game these days. And the levels teach you how to play, so you're not stuck in some interminable tutorial narration. Also a virtue! And the MUSIC. Now I'm just waiting for a chance to play it docked, so I can make better use of the gyro controls!
posted by mittens at 5:15 AM on December 23, 2022

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