neon white, out now for Switch and PC, is one of the best games of the year. Between the anime vibe and the awesome soundtrack from Machine Girl, you’ll find a delightfully stylish speed running glove that’s as easy to learn as it is hard to master. The last few days I can’t stop. Here are some tips I would like to know before I get started.
Don’t think of it as a shooter
Publisher Annapurna Interactive can technically account neon white like “fast FPS” but that’s not quite it. This is certainly not your typical first-person shooter. Instead, think of each level that you have to complete from start to finish and kill every demon you meet along the way as a puzzle with a solution. Your goal is to find the fastest route and then… successfully complete it. The sooner you rewire your brain from Rock thinking the better neon white you’ll.
Cards placed intentionally
You pick up a weapon in neon white looking through the cards scattered around the map. But every gun is not just a weapon. Dropping it will also give you a one-time evasion ability – the pistol turns into a double jump, the submachine gun into a ground pound, and so on. Most often these cards are placed exactly where they need to be so you can use them. In other words, if you pick up a pistol that turns into a dash, be prepared to dash.
Your deck is limited
Lest you misunderstand neon white resolutely No deck building game. You can only carry two types of cards in your hand, although (according to my tests) you can hold an unlimited number of each card. Your hand is wiped off at the end of each level. Of course, you have a permanent card for the sword, but…
Melee attacks suck
You start each level with your sword and you can’t get rid of it. Functionally useless in combat; don’t waste your time trying to use it to kill demons. But if you want to save ammo, you can use your sword to hit various useful in-game objects – explosive barrels, chests (which usually contain weapon cards) and the like.
Take a run before trying to perfect it
Even if you know you’re going to finish the level with a terrible time, it’s worth it to finish it. By simply completing a level, you will receive a bronze medal, show the time it takes to get silver, gold, or higher medals, and unlock the ability to replay that level and find its gift (more on that in a moment). Defeating silver time will spawn a ghost that will replay your previous fastest route, giving you a personal benchmark to compete against in the middle. The gold gives you a hint for the level, really helping you figure out how to hit the ace. And if you do, you will be able to view the leaderboards for that level – that’s when real the game starts. (Beating your friends by a millisecond is a thrill.)
Earn gold medals
At certain points in neon white you will encounter level gates: to unlock more missions, you need to increase something called your neon rank, your dimension compared to all other fictional characters in the game’s history. You start in 100th place. Every time you get a gold or first medal, you move up one position. It’s much easier to get gold on an early level you’ve played before than it is to get it on the first try at a later level.
Replaying levels also allows you to find gifts that you can then give to other characters in a dating sim-style game. This will strengthen your relationship with them, eventually unlocking side quests – usually a skill-based challenge. But in the simple act of looking for gifts, neon white becomes more about exploration than racing. There is no pressure to set the best time. (Once you find the present, the level will end.) You’re just poking around, trying to find a brightly colored box with a bow on it. neon whiteturns out to be very, very beautiful when you slow down and take in the sights.
Bonus Tip: When looking for a gift, hold on to whatever weapon you have. Also, try to reach the highest point in the level. Sometimes you can see the brilliance of a gift in the form of a bright box.
Additional weapon vending machines
Most levels have vending machines hidden in corners. Hitting one will give you a card, usually the one you need to get to the level’s hidden gift. If you are trying to set a fast time and you have the ability to interact with the vending machine, you have already failed. But they are extremely useful for providing additional traversal tricks that will allow you to find gifts.
All explosions launch you
You can throw an assault rifle to plant a bomb where your cursor is. neon white says you can launch yourself by jumping over it right during the explosion, which is true, but you also don’t have to time the jump. Just standing next to an explosion of any kind automatically launches you into the air – and much higher than you can normally jump. There are ways to use this knowledge to surprisingly beneficial effect. For example, hitting an explosive barrel will take you quite high. Ground Strike two explosive barrels will send you even higher (the exact dimensions have not yet been determined). And you won’t take splash damage, so experiment with explosives to your heart’s content.
Try not to multitask IRL
Because the levels in neon white are so brief that they usually last 30 seconds, you might get the impression that this is the perfect game for multitasking – you know, send a few emails, complete a level, get back to work a bit, complete a level, and so on. Ah, yes, about that. Once you start playing, it can eat up your time before you even realize it, and everything you’ve been trying to “multitask” will be completely relegated to the background. You have been warned!