Neon White is a first-person shooter, full-stop. Its coming to Nintendo Switch and Steam, and on PC, it uses the standard WASD and mouse input. Its not on rails, and in fact, freedom of movement and rapidity are key gameplay elements. Players earn medals for beating levels quickly, adding a delectable layer of speedrunning to the game.
Actions and weapons are augmented by the floating cards scattered around Heavens platforms or left behind by slain enemies.
The whole conceit of playing the game is the cards that are both weapons and movement, Esposito said. The way that works is, you start with just a sidearm, like a little katana card, and you swipe it. And then all the weapons that you get in the level come from either they’re sitting around in the world, or if you kill an enemy, sometimes they’ll drop a card. And when you pick up the card, now you can use that card as a gun. It has a number of shots, depending on what gun it is, or you can discard it, which would just delete it essentially. And in exchange, you’ll get some sort of movement ability.
Take the Godspeed card, for example. If you choose to use it as a gun, its essentially a rifle with four shots, and its accurate and powerful. But, if you discard it, its a dash that slaughters basically any enemy you move through. These card-discard decisions play out in rapid succession in the game, as players catapult themselves from one Heavenly platform to another.
Every action is extreme in Neon White.
When you jump, you jump three humans tall, Esposito said. When you do movement, you go really, really, really far. So, it’s like a first-person platformer in something that I really like about those old-school games is that they can be nice and broad and clear, and they can be kind of abstract in how the levels are constructed, which lets me do really interesting, weird layouts.
It also lets Esposito get weird regarding the second critical aspect of Neon White:
The story component is very big, Esposito said. It’s structured 100 percent around the story, which is weird for kind-of a speed-running shooter. It’s not something that I think has really been done.
Neon Whites narrative begins with a simple conceit. You wake up in Heaven with no clue how you got there, and youre immediately thrown into a competition to be the top demon slayer and earn a permanent place beyond the Pearly Gates. The thing is, all the other demon slayers seem to know you, and you dont remember anyone.
The bulk of the narrative plays out in dialogue scenes in-between missions. Missions are composed of 10 rapid-fire, card-casting, demon-slaying levels each, with story beats scattered throughout.
And then you get an opportunity to hang out in Heaven, Esposito said. You talk to all the various other characters, and you can find gifts and stuff for them. It’s kind of got dating sim elements and you can give them gifts to deepen your relationship, and they will give you back things for giving them gifts. So, you’ll be able to do interesting side quests and stuff that will deepen the relationship even further.