Title: Neon White
Developer: Angel Matrix
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed on), PC
Release Date: Jun 16, 2022
Neon White was announced over a year ago for the Switch and PC. It was billed as a Mirror’s Edge-style platformer, while adding shooting and cards (because everything has to have cards now).
It’s a game in which your character, known as “Neon White,” finds himself in Heaven. He was supposed to go to Hell but him and a few other chosen people — who also follow the same “Neon [color]” naming method — are in Heaven because they like to throw a bizarre tournament. In said tournament, people condemned to Hell get to chill in Heaven for a bit as long as they fight off invading demons for their entertainment.
You immediately meet four fellow Neons: Neon Yellow, a himbo that seems to always be in a very positive mood; Neon Violet, a bubbly but psychotic character that screams “watered-down version of Harley Quinn without saying Harley Quinn”; and Neon Red, an overly flirty character who likes to tease everyone and, occasionally, touch Violet inappropriately (but, you know, it’s done humorously so it’s definitely not assault even though it absolutely is).
The biggest thing in common though, they all seem to know each other and you. Unfortunately for you, you have amnesia and at no point do any of the other three seem to realize that every single problem they’re having would mostly be resolved if they stood for a minute and just got you caught up.
Oh, and there’s also “Neon Green”, the previous champion. But there’s a surprising lack of story there. He’s huge and he’s competition. That’s about it.
My problem with these characters though is that every single one of the main crew is horny and stupid. They’re in a situation in which only one of them can spend a short time in Heaven and the rest of them are going straight to Hell. And instead of ever talking about this or reacting to it, they’re all flirting with each other without actually making a move. It’s like the afterlife is a terrible chatroom.
To make it worse, they’re all edgelords. Like, the worst edgelords. Each and every one of these characters feel like they were taken straight out of the famous “dancing goths” meme.
As for the gameplay, it’s pretty simple. I know it was pretty much sold as a Mirror’s Edge style first-person platformer but it’s missing a lot of the elements that made Mirror’s Edge work so well like wall-running, ledge vaulting, and pretty much everything that isn’t just jumping.
As for the shooting, there is a LOT of auto-aim in the game so you don’t need to worry about aiming too much while running about. Either that or, at some point, I became a pro at first-person shooters because I rarely ever miss while running.
You encounter cards while playing. They are either left out in the wild or from killing enemies. These cards have different weapons on them but you can also discard them for various effects. One grants you a second jump while in the air. One shoots you forward at high speed, killing enemies in your path or destroying doors. One allows you to fire a bomb that kills enemies nearby and can launch you away from it. And so on.
There’s no deck building though. Each stage is a short, 30-second run in which you have to use the correct cards in the correct way to get through the stage. There’s nothing really random to it. This is actually nice though as without the exact card you need you’re screwed.
One thing that was frustrating though is that you can’t exit a stage unless you kill all the enemies on the stage first. While I get that my character’s job is clearing out the baddies, there are times when I want to free run. Here’s the majority of one of the stages in action.
Note that when I get the blue “Godspeed” card, I can dash forward through enemies and walls. The green “Stomp” card breaks me through the red flooring. And the yellow “Elevate” card is a single use double jump which is how I get up and over that wall. Notice how I get it from using Godspeed through an enemy. So it’s not so much about free running but more memorizing the linear course and acting accordingly. Without immediately using Elevate, I would have slammed into the wall and fallen to my death.
The game isn’t bad, but it definitely isn’t fulfilling. I had some fun at first, but slogging through the really bad dialogue and characters almost felt like a punishment for moving forward. I’d see an exclamation point on the map screen meaning I had to talk to someone and just admit an audible groan. Also, with all stages looking the same and all the enemies being so black you can’t make out the details on what they’re supposed to be until you’re practically IN them, it gets old quickly.
If you’re looking for a first-person platformer that you’ll get a lot more out of, play the first Mirror’s Edge again. Unless you felt bad that Mirror’s Edge didn’t shoehorn pop culture references in haphazardly.
Neon White (Nintendo Switch) Score: 6/10
Neon White introduces many interesting ideas but arranges them in front of you like items at a garage sale. The stage design is simplistic, the gameplay gets old quickly, and the characters and dialogue feel like they’re about a decade or more misplaced with references to pop culture icons that are no longer en vogue. Neon White is an interesting play but, ultimately, it feels like you’re playing a tech demo for something that is supposed to be much bigger.
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.