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Neon White | Review – XboxEra

Neon White | Review – XboxEra

A year after its announcement, Neon White has finally arrived on Xbox Game Pass, and it’s incredible. It’s some of the worst visual novel-style cutscene work mixed with some of the best time-trace FPS gameplay I’ve ever experienced. You’re a bad guy, sent to heaven after you die, and put through trials to try and earn your place in the clouds. You’ll meet a bunch of unrelated characters along the way in cutscenes that you can thankfully skip.

Local

You’re Neon White, a dead man in heaven, and you and a bunch of other cliche, annoying characters are given color-based names. You’re all Neon, you’re white, and everyone else is yellow, green, etc. I don’t normally skip story or cutscenes in a game, but Neon White was an exception. I originally played the game when it was released on PC, and I remember playing about 3 cutscenes before I could press X to skip. This happened again when I was replaying the game for review on both the Xbox Series X and the Microsoft Store version on PC, since it’s Play Anywhere.

In between each time trial, you’ll have the opportunity to talk to various beings around the heavens and learn more about the story. I feel bad, but there’s not a single character or voice in the game that I liked. I can say that the actors did their best to give this nerd anime story a mix of goofiness and charm. At no point did it work for me. I tried to get through the cutscenes over and over again, but there are a ton of them (if you will) and they’re incredibly long. Thankfully, you don’t have to watch a single one to experience some of the most addictive time trial-based FPS fun I’ve ever had.

The races

Each mission is a series of time trials with increasingly difficult objectives. It’s a slow burn, but if you skip the cutscenes like I did, you should be able to “complete” the game in 4 or 5 hours. If you track everything and want to get the top spot on each level, all the gifts (that you give to your companions to unlock), etc., that could easily take dozens of hours or more. I foresee a lot of leaderboard chasing against friends, as the game is on Game Pass at launch. Here’s a rough breakdown of each trial and how they work.

You will start a mission with several levels. There are 97 levels spread over 12 missions. Each mission has three completion levels, silver, gold and ace, each with a time limit. The levels are from 15 seconds to a minute long and are a mix of running, jumping, shooting and ability usage. Shooting and abilities are tied to cards. These are a limited resource with two types of usage in each level. The first is shooting and the second is a unique ability per card. One of the first things you will get is a gun that can fire a single shot or make you jump in the air. Your shots are limited and you have 2And Ability instantly destroys the card.

Levels are designed to challenge you to optimize your route, your kart usage, and your focus to shave milliseconds off your friends and others around the world. There’s a rifle that hits hard and can launch you forward, and a shotgun that’s deadly at close range and can send you flying forward depending on where you aim.

It’s a fantastic mix of aiming, platforming, and planning. Levels rarely last longer than 30 seconds, and if you make a mistake, restarting is almost instantaneous with a button press. Once you’ve reached at least gold on a level, you’ll also be able to find any rewards or other story items. These runs allow you to focus less on timing and more on reaching specific areas. It’s a lot of fun, and with the ability to skip the story, it’s a game I’ve always enjoyed returning to on PC. The controls on console feel great, with just enough aim assist to help and never get in the way. It’s not a magnet for extra oomph and slowdown.

Graphics and Sound

Neon White runs at a high frame rate on Xbox Series X, and for me it was easily locked at 120 on PC. The style of the game is clean, making it easy to see enemies and know where to go. You get a lot of different movement abilities, and it’s very important that things like particle effects are kept to a minimum. They’re trying to create an anime feel to the style for each character, and I think it would work well if the writing and voice acting were better.

The game’s music never gets in the way while keeping up with the fast pace of the time trials. There are also some memorable jabs at the beginning and end of each stage. The writing just didn’t work well for me, and the voice actors never got a chance to make it better. The audio mix for the VOs also feels off. It sounds like people in a recording studio or home mic setup, not people in an outdoor environment. It’s no match for the big rooms in Heaven, always feeling very clear and clean, but that’s a minor flaw in the grand scheme of things.

Concluding Things

Neon White has incredible gameplay and some of the best “one more try” levels in recent history. It’s so much fun to play that it’s not overshadowed by its poor story. It’s worth a purchase or Game Pass download, especially if you have friends to compete with on the leaderboards

Neon White

Played

Xbox Series X, PC

PROS

  • Gameplay
  • Level Design
  • Replayability
  • Clean Looks
  • Skippable Cutscenes

CONS

  • writing
  • Dubbing
  • Story