Neon White gripped me the moment it was revealed by combining a heavenly aesthetic with frantic fast paced action. To say this game is very unique is an underestimate. But is it good? Does the fast paced gameplay feel as fluid as it looks hooked in the trailer? And is the story good enough to hook you? Well, that’s what I’m here to answer in Gaming Raja review of Neon White for the Nintendo Switch.
To break it down, Neon White is a time trial based first person platformer card game shooter. Yes, it’s a mouthful, but it’s actually quite simple in its execution. When you begin a level, you can walk, jump and melee and that’s it. At least until you collect some very carefully placed cards in each level, which are the game’s weapons. They all shoot as you’d expect, but each one has a discard ability, so the pistol acts as a double jump, the rifle launches you forward and the Uzi lets you ground, pound, to name a few. It’s this simple premise that makes the levels a joy to run through. Each level is short and can be beaten in under a minute, but the majority of the fun comes by way of beating them within a time limit. There are bronze, silver, gold and diamond time and each metal unlocks extras like a global leader board to help you improve your time.
Basic Levels and Mechanics but New Weapons
Neon White does a fantastic job of introducing new cards, teaching you the ropes and giving you challenge and levels involving these new weapons that test out your reflexes and skill. The levels are laid out in a very specific way, forcing you to typically use a set pad so it’s hard to shave off precious seconds. Even though I have beaten the game, I found myself returning to several levels to try and beat the diamond time trial and I can see myself doing this for the next few weeks.
The game is short and I spent roughly 7 hours with it, but I was retrying levels to achieve better times. So a simple run through of the game could probably take you four to 6 hours. The basic levels will have you slashing, shooting and jumping away to the end. Don’t be expecting mirrors edge though, as there is no paracord to speak of. The later levels are where the phone is at. Yes, you’ll be doing all the same things as before, but everything has to be done with a certain level of precision to beat the diamond score.
The final set of levels introduces a new card that launches you towards an enemy and the speed of these levels is insane. At its core, it has a very simple set of mechanics, but the game building them in such a clever way, introducing new weapons and increasingly more intricate level designs and I never found myself getting bored. And it helps that the setting of Neon White is plain and simply cool. You play as a Neon who are sinners that have been brought to heaven from hell in order to do God’s dirty work, and you do so by defeating demons with the promise of a permanent place in heaven once the work is done.
Story and Characters Conversation
The graphic novel soil instantly reminded me of the World Ends With You, only paired with no more heroes comedic dialogue. Neon has amnesia, which is one of the most cliche plus pointed storytelling, but I still enjoy piecing together his past and his relationships with the other Neons. You meet the other Neons, who all have a color assigned to them, and they’ll drip feed you bits of information about your past, how you died and what your relationship with them was.
This was fine in the beginning, even though the characters are trophy, but it’s fun nonetheless. But then you meet Neon Red and Neon Violet, and the narrative quickly fell off a cliff as everything became annoying, and not in a fun, cheesy way. It’s just in your face and gratuitous, and it often took me completely out of the sword. And it only gets worse when you have to listen to the dialogue between levels as it defeats the pacing with how frequent it is, especially as some of these conversations could go on for quite some time.
But it’s on the stakes and ramped up and things were getting serious and the annoying dialogue was lessened, I was checked out on the story, so much so that if I weren’t reviewing it, I would have skipped every single line, because the gameplay is where the game shines, and oh Lord, it’s unbelievable.
Game Art and Collectibles
Beyond the core objective, you also have a collectible to find at each level, but looking forward to goals against the game’s great overall design. The levels are clearly designed to be beaten as fast as possible, which I loved, but when you have to walk slowly looking around for a hidden collectible, it’s simply not for these. Collectibles are presents that can be given to the Side characters to unlock new dialogue at Side Quests, but I think we all know how I feel about the dialogue by now, so I didn’t go out on my way to do these.
I love the art direction here. It’s simple and clean and oddly reminds me of Kingdom Hearts. There really isn’t much to it other than the clean white buildings and some pretty nice water, but it delivers on the Heavenly aesthetic. The game runs quite well on the switch, too, despite the odd frame drop here and there, but it never really hindered my experience.
From a technical standpoint you might notice some jaggies, especially on the character models, but overall the game looks great. At first I was afraid to play a fast paced FPS on the Switch, but added options to help with aiming, such as gyro aiming and a lock on mode that takes away your need to be super accurate so you can focus on your movement. I didn’t need to use either of these options, as I was accurate enough with the sticks, but it’s always nice to have the choice.
The music is perfect, though. It’s a great soundtrack that is 100% on my gameplay playlist, and it matches the fast paced gameplay perfectly. My head was bupping the whole time I played. Overall, I had a great time playing Neon White, but slightly less so when I was watching it instead. I didn’t like the dialogue whatsoever, but thankfully the option is there to skip through it if you want. At least the setup for the story was interesting, even if I started to lose my interest as it continued. On the other hand, the gameplay is stellar, with simple mechanics, well laid out levels, and a nice range of weapons that prevented it from feeling stale.
The story got in the way of the gameplay, and Neon Red and Violet’s dialogue was jarring, and it detracted from my experience. I still had a blast playing the levels of Beaten the Time Trials, and that’s why I like Neon White, as it’s plain and simple fun. We have a review for Neon White on the Nintendo Switch. Are you going to pick it up? Let us know in the comments down below. Don’t forget to check out the other Gaming Raja’s Gaming Reviews.