Angel Matrix’s Neon White is one of the most unique games in recent memory. If I described it as a cross between Mirror’s Edge, Celeste, Persona, and Cowboy Bebop, would that make sense, or would it sound like nerd soup?
Despite its absolutely bizarre premise — the titular White, a demonslaying Neon, competes with other sinners in order to earn a temporary place in heaven — the game is a blast to play, and has become the surprise hit of the summer. As such, if you’ve made a mistake or two as you get used to the game’s novel combination of FPS, visual novel, platformer, deck-builder, and anime nonsense, you’re definitely not alone. Here are some things we’ve all done at some point.
10 Miss A Jump
Neon White’s opening stages act as a tutorial, introducing the player to all of the game’s different mechanics. It even playfully lampshades the whole concept of tutorials… right before plunging you into one. Funny joke, game.
The first level features no enemies or hazards, just a quick little run-and-jump segment to acclimate you to the controls. The thing is, everyone has missed that first jump once… or twice. First-person platforming is challenging to get right, so it’s nice that Neon White at least lets you feel out its physics before throwing you into the deep end.
9 Fall Off The Edge Of The World
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you’ll never misjudge another jump. Neon White’s first group of levels takes place in an area called the Glass Ocean, where there are no bottomless pits. However, later levels aren’t so generous, featuring impossible architecture high in the clouds.
Add in the game’s passel of movement abilities tied to its weapons, and you’ve got a recipe for instant death. Activate your double-jump a second too late, or trigger your dash when you’re not facing in precisely the right direction, and you’ll come plummeting back down to earth. It happens to everyone.
8th Experiment With The Soul Cards
Neon White’s weapons take the form of Soul Cards, which are color-coded pickups that dot its levels. Grab the yellow Elevate card and you’ll be able to use a pistol, firing short shots at nearby enemies.
But you can also discard each weapon to use a movement ability tied to that card — the card’s name will give you a hint as to what its associated movement is. The Elevate card, for instance, gives you an instant double-jump, letting you reach higher platforms. Each time you get a new card, you’ll want to play around with its ability, seeing how far each new move can take you.
7 Forget About One Measly Demon
Neon White’s levels are brief, asking you to jump and dash and stomp your way through bite-sized chunks of tasty platforming goodness. This brevity, and the game’s overall focus on speed, will tempt you to rush headlong through each level, throwing caution into the wind as you speed towards the finish line.
But don’t get cocky! The game only lets you finish a level when you kill every demon in it. If you run past a demon in your haste, you might make it to the goal, but you won’t be able to exit the level and earn your reward… not that I would know from experience or anything.
6 Aim For A Better Medal
After you complete each level in Neon White, the game will give you a medal based on how quickly you made it to the finish line. Earning a Bronze medal is fine, sure — if you’re just trying to get to the next level. But you’ll quickly learn that the real reward is locked behind the better medals.
Earning a Gold will boost your Neon Rank and unlock a level hint that shows you a secret shortcut. Getting an Ace medal is even better, opening up the global leaderboards for your perusal. The cream of Neon White’s crop compete to get the fastest times on each and every level, and you’ll only be able to join them if you try to outdo yourself on every run.
5 Seek Out The Gift Collectibles
Earning better medals isn’t the only reason to replay Neon White’s levels. After finishing a level for the first time, the game unlocks a gift collectible in each one. These are usually hidden in some out-of-the-way location, like a far-off building or literally beneath the level.
Finding them requires tricky platforming maneuvers and careful management of your Soul Cards, but they’re worth seeking out because they let you build your relationships with the other Neons.
4 Choose One Of The Characters As Your Soulmate
Neon White isn’t just about running through gorgeous, abstract spaces as nearly as possible. It’s also about anime girls! And boys. And cats. Outside of the game’s fast-paced levels, you’ll meet a slew of other Neons who all have a connection to White.
There’s neon yellow, a good-natured himbo who just wants to hang out and drink beer; Neon Violet, a baby-voiced goth who loves cute animals and gory kills; and Neon Red, a sly femme fatale who keeps her past a secret. Giving them gifts lets you spend more time with them, and if the ocean of fanart on the internet is any indication, at least one of these neons is bound to be your new crush. Except for Violet. she’s my anime GF.
3 The Horribly In Violet’s Sidequest Missions
Giving the other Neons gifts also periodically opens up sidequest missions. These are similar to the main levels, but each character’s missions come with a unique twist; Red’s levels focus on traversal over combat, Yellow’s levels disable discard abilities and force you to rely on your wits, and Violet’s levels… are hard as heck.
Violet loves murder and blood and death, so her levels are lined with insta-kill spikes and endless rows of enemies, requiring knife-sharp platforming in order to complete. The things we do for love.
2 Get Nostalgic For The 2000s
Neon White wears its influences on its sleeve. Director Ben Esposito has name-checked a slew of early-2000s inspirations, including cult classics like Killer7 and sci-fi anime classics like Cowboy Bebop. Heck, they even got Steve Blum, the voice actor behind Bebop’s Spike Spiegel, to play White!
The whole game feels like a love letter to a simpler time, when the internet was just a collection of forum nerds eagerly sharing the stuff that they loved… and the occasional deeply traumatic meme. (Don’t go on eBaum’s World, kids.)
1 Become A Speedrunner
Neon White lets you revisit old levels anytime you like, including the optional sidequest missions. Its medal system and gift collectibles encourage you to make smart use of your movement abilities, while its shortcut hints help you to see how each level can be manipulated. Its leaderboard shows you how well other players are doing, challenging you to do better.
In other words, the game is built to help you speedrun its levels by building your knowledge and always comparing you with others. You’ll be ripping through heaven in no time.
NEXT: Changes To Make Neon White Go From Good To Great