Neon White review: Creative shooter is a heavenly delight

“Neon White swings for the fences with its card-based gun-platforming, nevertheless it pays off to create a wildly enjoyable motion game.”


  • Strong worldbuilding
  • Ingenious card combat
  • Fast and fun
  • Full of extras


  • Not much freedom in levels
  • Late stages could be a slog

At a primary glance, Neon White appears like the form of game that will have your local priest performing exorcisms. The indie shooter paints a grim portrait of the afterlife, one where divine judgment is was a gun bloodsport. But look below the surface sacrilege and also you’ll discover a more nuanced meditation of spirituality and the actual heretics that weaponize it against the vulnerable.

Developed by Angel Matrix, Neon White is a genre-bending motion game a few group of deceased misfits who should fight their way into Heaven (literally). The oddball game has players collecting guns in the shape of cards that may shoot enemies or be discarded to perform platforming moves. It’s a fast-paced motion game about killing enough demons to appease a bloodthirsty God as a part of a holy war that doesn’t smell right.

Through its stylish art and devilishly creative card combat, Neon White is a sharp-witted game in regards to the hypocrisy that may often go hand-in-hand with religious fanaticism. Though it has some harsh words for zealots, it comes from a spot of sincere spirituality as an alternative of cynicism.

Judgment day

When Neon White begins, the sport’s protagonist is already dead. The amnesiac hero is within the afterlife awaiting entry into Heaven together with a bunch of mask-wearing humans who’ve all been renamed after colours (your given name? Neon White). The story’s left turn comes immediately: All of the “Neons” are sinners who’re being pitted against each other in a divine competition. Whoever can kill probably the most demons in God’s name will gain entry into the pearly gates.

Author Ryann Shannon delivers a searing sermon about religious fear-mongering …

It’s an immediately gripping setup. Right from the jump, it’s clear that something’s off as self-indulgent angels watch the violent proceedings like a Sunday derby. The central mystery at the guts of Neon White becomes more layered as each chapter progresses, revealing more about White, the opposite Neons, and the mechanics of the afterlife. It plays out like a full season of a great anime.

The worldbuilding is a highlight throughout. While it’s an motion game primarily, it has a good amount of visual novel DNA. Between each chapter, White spends time in a heavenly hub chatting with other characters that steadily paint a full picture of the world. It’s darkly comedic and just a little absurd (flying cats play a serious role within the story), nevertheless it isn’t silly or irreverent. Moderately, author Ryann Shannon delivers a searing sermon about religious fear-mongering and the loyal “believers” who never appear to follow their very own advice.

Neon Red makes fun of a character in Neon White.

It could be easy for a story like that to quickly dip into brow-beating atheistic territory, but I appreciate that Neon White doesn’t write off religion altogether. As a substitute, its story recognizes that spirituality could be a healthy force for good, especially for many who are simply searching for purpose or peace in a busy world. Its heavenly gatekeepers could also be snooty and judgmental, however the game sincerely believes that anyone is worthy of forgiveness, whether that be from up above or here on Earth.

Shoot and discard

While its thoughtful story is price delving into, Neon White’s primary strength is its creative combat, which fuses first-person shooting, platforming, and card management. Levels are short speed gauntlets where players must wipe out every demon before making it to an exit. Lots of its 90+ levels are supposed to be accomplished in under a minute, giving the sport a hellishly fun breakneck pace.

The fun comes from orchestrating a violent ballet filled with bullets and perfectly timed pirouettes. [/pullquotes]

Different guns (handgun, shotgun, the standard) appear in the shape of cards. While a card is lively, players can shoot demons. Nonetheless, each card has an alternate motion that’s activated by discarding it. Drop a rifle and White shoots forward in a straight line that may cut through partitions and enemies. Trashing a submachine gun, however, allows White to perform a devastating stomp. The puzzle of every level is that players must work out when to spend ammo and when to activate a capability as a way to filter all enemies while platforming. It’s a series of lightning-fast decisions which can be incredibly satisfying to string together.

The one thing that lets it down is a scarcity of freedom in each level. Cards are laid out strategically along a linear path, so there’s rarely much room for experimentation. After I pick up a handgun, I’m almost at all times going to be using it instantly. That’s a positive in some respects, because it keeps the sport from getting too complicated with deck management — something that will be too difficult to do at the sport’s speed. Still, there have been times after I left levels feeling like I’d ridden on a rollercoaster ride, versus completing a fluid motion scene.

A player looks out at a watery Neon White level.

Shorter levels work a lot better than a few of the game’s longer late-game gauntlets too. In 30-second levels, it’s easy to search out a path through a level after which spend time trying to attain the proper run (faster times unlock rewards like leaderboards). Later levels can begin to feel like a slog when you’ve got to replay one minute of easy platforming to get back to the split-second moment that’s tripping you up. Some checkpoints in longer levels could have helped alleviate a few of the late-game drag.

Those gripes aside, the motion in Neon White is at all times sharp. It’s an execution-heavy game in the identical vein as indies like Boomerang X, and like those games, the fun comes from orchestrating a violent ballet filled with bullets and perfectly timed pirouettes. The sport continues to layer latest guns, abilities, enemies, and obstacles into each level, making every chapter feel like a fresh hell to be mastered.

Demon dating

At around 12 hours casually, Neon White is a considerable game even before entering into its extra features. Its side-content is kind of significant though, expanding the package right into a challenge-packed motion game that’ll last some time. There are nearly 100 well-designed levels to perfect, each of which has its own leaderboard, medal requirements, and collectible gifts that unlock after it has been cleared once.

Call it a heavenly delight or a guilty pleasure; either way, it’s divine.

The last part is one in every of the sport’s most clever hooks. Gifts give players a reason to return into levels and use their gun cards a bit more freely to trace down every hidden present. Once found, those will be given to the sport’s NPCs to unlock excellent bonus levels, in addition to story-moving dialogue. Yes, on top of all the pieces, Neon White also functions as a reasonably good dating simulator.

While it’s not quite the master tradesman that something like Hades is, Neon White does all the pieces it sets out to do quite well. There was rarely some extent where I felt like I used to be slogging through dull lore to get back to the motion or vice versa. Every bit matches into each other to create a successful hybrid game glued along with stylish visuals and a soundtrack filled with bops. It has the chaotic energy, but still cohesive vision of a great Suda51 game — my head keeps going back to Killer7 after I try to search out the correct spiritual touchstone.

A player shoots a rocket at an enemy in Neon White.

While there could be bits and pieces of other games in here, Neon White is the form of wholly unique experience that makes the trendy gaming scene so exciting. It deconstructs genre staples and narrative clichés, reassembling them into its own funhouse mirror image. Call it a heavenly delight or a guilty pleasure; either way, it’s divine.

Our take

Neon White takes some big swings with its card-shooter/platformer premise and fortunately doesn’t miss. Its execution-heavy motion is wildly fast and fun, pushing players to finish complex demon-slaying gauntlets that pepper in exciting twists through the sport’s last moments. Levels can feel disappointingly linear and longer stages can drag the momentum down, however the motion is essentially satisfying from start to complete. That might be enough to make this a worthwhile package, but its surprisingly thoughtful commentary on spirituality and powerful late-game hooks make this a game worthy of divine judgment.

Is there a greater alternative?

Hades has an identical genre-bending approach, though there’s nothing on the market that’s quite like Neon White. Though publisher Devolver Digital has loads of great execution-based motion games of comparable quality. Take your pick.

How long will it last?

The story will be accomplished in roughly 12 hours, but there’s a ton to chase after the credits roll. Unlockable gifts, time chases, bonus levels, and more turn this into a strong package throughout.

Must you buy it?

Yes. Neon White is a cool and assured motion game with an odd motion hook that’s fast and improbable in equal measure.

Neon White was reviewed using a PC copy primarily tested on Steam Deck.

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