neon white, available now for Switch and PC, is easily one of the best games of the year. Between the anime vibes and the kickass soundtrack of Machine Girl, you’ll find a wonderfully stylish speedrunning glove that’s as easy to learn as it is hard to master. For the past few days I couldn’t put it down. Here’s some advice I wish I knew before I started.
Don’t think of it as a shooter
Publisher Annapurna Interactive May technical invoicing neon white as a “fast running FPS”, but that’s not quite it. It’s certainly not your typical first-person shooter. Instead, think of each level – where you have to make it from start to finish and kill every demon you encounter along the way – as a puzzle with a solution. Your goal is to find the fastest route and then… execute it successfully. The sooner you rewire your brain away from a disaster mentality, the better in neon white You will be.
Cards are intentionally placed
You pack guns neon white by running cards scattered around the map. But every weapon is not just any weapon. Throwing it away also gives you a one-time use traversal ability: a pistol that turns into a double jump, an SMG that turns into a ground pound, and so on. More often than not, those cards are posted precisely where they need to be so you can use them. In other words, if you pick up a gun that turns into a dash, get ready to sprint.
Your deck is limited
Lest you get the wrong idea, neon white is emphatic not a deck building game. You can only have two types of cards in your hand, although (based on my testing) you can keep an unlimited number of cards from each card. At the end of each level, your hand will be wiped clean. Sure, you have a permanent card for a sword, but…
Melee attacks suck
You start each level with your sword, and you can’t get rid of it. It is functionally useless in combat; don’t waste your time using it to kill demons. But if you want to save ammunition, you can use your sword to strike several useful in-game objects: explosive barrels, chests (which usually contain cards for guns), and the like.
Finish a run before trying to perfect it
Even if you know you’re going to finish a level with a terrible time, it’s worth working it out to the end. Completing the level will give you the bronze medal, see the times needed to clock silver, gold, or ace medals, and get the option to replay that level and find its gift (more on that later). Beating the silver time will spawn a ghost that re-enacts your previous fastest route, giving you a personal benchmark for competing against mid-run. Gold gives you a hint for the level, very useful for figuring out how to decorate the ace. And when you do, you can view the leaderboards of that level Real game starts. (Beating your friends for a millisecond is a thrill.)
Collect gold medals
At certain points in neon white you will encounter a level gate: to unlock more missions, you need to raise something called your neon rank, your benchmark against all other fictional characters in the game’s story. You start in 100th place. Every time you clock a gold or ace medal, you move up one position. It’s much easier to get gold at an early level that you’ve gone through before than to try and get it at a later level.
By replaying levels you’ve completed, you can also find gifts, which you can then give to other characters in the game, in the style of a dating simulator. Doing so builds a bond with them and eventually unlocks side missions – usually a skill-based trial. But just by finding gifts, neon white is more about exploring than racing. There is no pressure to set a better time. (Once you find the gift, the level ends.) You’re just poking around trying to find a brightly colored box with a bow on it. neon whiteas it turns out, is very, very beautiful when you slow down and take in the sights.
Bonus tip: If you’re looking for a gift, hold on to whatever weapons you have. Also try to reach the highest point in the level. Sometimes you can see the sparkle of the gift, in the form of a brightly colored box.
Attack vending machines for extra weapons
Most levels have vending machines tucked away in some corners. If you hit one, you’ll get a card, usually one you’ll need to reach the level’s hidden gift. If you’re trying to set a fast time and have the space to interact with an automaton, you’ve already failed. But these are hugely useful for giving extra traversal tricks that help you find gifts.
All explosions launch you
You can throw an assault rifle to place a bomb where your cursor is. neon white says you can launch yourself by jumping on top of it the moment the explosion happens, which is true, but you don’t have to time a jump either. Just standing next to an explosion of any kind will automatically launch 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 get you pretty high. pounding on two explosive barrels send you even higher (exact dimensions to be determined). And you won’t take any splash damage, so experiment with explosives to your heart’s content.
Try not to multitask IRL
Because levels in neon white are so short, usually lasting 30 seconds each, that you might get the impression that it’s an ideal game for multitasking – you know, firing a few emails, playing a level, getting back to work, a level play, and so on. Uh, yeah, about that. Once you start playing it can consume your time before you even realize it, and whatever you tried to “multitask” will be pushed aside completely. You have been warned!