Is a recently released(2022) FPS game published by Annapurna. It's an FPS along the same vein of games like Deadcore, SEUM or the upcoming Warstride Challenges where you're dropped into a very linear level with obstacles in your way and your objective is to go through the levels as fast as possible, mixed with some VN-lite elements.
The gimmick here is that you have a two weapon limit, where your weapons manifest as 'soul cards' that you can pick up during the levels. Picking up a card adds to its ammo and adds a charge to its discard ability. Every weapon, besides your default katana can be discarded for a movement ability. A list of the weapons are
>Katana: Basic melee weapon. Can reflect projectiles, across 97 levels I've only really used it in two
>Elevate: A pistol. Discarding this lets you jump in the air.
>Purify: My third favorite card. It's an assault rifle, while the discard is a grenade. This grenade can be used for crowd control or a grenade jump, the grenade jump can be stacked, done off of walls and is generally a really fun tool to play with whenever it's present in a level.
>Godspeed: A semi-auto rifle. Discarding this lets you dash over a large distance, killing and destroying anything in your path.
>Fireball: A shotgun. Discarding this lets you also dash, but this is more an aimed dash with less velocity than Godspeed.
>Dominion: My second favorite card. This is a rocket launcher that can be used to rocket jump in far more versatile ways than the Purify grenade, and discarding it lets you use a grappling hook(it's more or less a zipline because there aren't any swinging physics, you just pull yourself to a surface). Again this makes for some of the more fun speed puzzles since you can go about levels in a more open fashion with this card.
>Book Of Life: This card is only seen in the last two chapters and it's my absolute favorite. It has no primary fire, and can be infinitely discarded. It's a very long range telefrag on any enemy or object and the level designers went wild with this one. More on that later.
In all chapters(every chapter is 10 levels with I believe three being 2/3 levels for boss related special levels) but the last two, your objective is to go fast while killing all the demons in your way and you get graded for this in four ascending grades of medal, Bronze(literally never saw it), Silver, Gold and Ace. Gold and Silver are often interchangeable and mainly focus on how much you fucked up during the level and is often a really easy margin to break, while Ace requires little fuck ups and sometimes being clever with your tools to skip a portion of the level. I like this a lot if it not for the Insight system.
Every level you finish you add to an "insight" bar. This bar goes up to 4 and each new grade of medal instantly tops up a level, while every completion not related to a new medal gives you a portion of the bar. I.E finishing a level with a gold medal tops it up to 3, finishing it again gives you 3.25, and so on, if you finish at Ace you get to 4 automatically. Each insight level unlocks some minor additions to the level
>Level 1: Unlocks time requirements for the higher medals. This is okay because if you finish fast enough you've retroactively scored that level's medal instead of needing to replay for a better grade.
>Level 2: Unlocks a 'gift', a side-collectible you can find in the level for the story bits later. These are not retroactive but thankfully when you collect a gift in a level the game puts you back in the menu where you can either replay the level(because gifts require going out of your way to get them and you'll never go fast getting them) or go to the next one.
>Level 3: Level hints. I hate these.
>Level 4: Global leaderboards. I pirated so I don't really care for it.
The level hints are what I dislike. They're this floating icon you can find in the levels that more or less signpost the skip you have to do in order to achieve an Ace medal. I dislike this because you cannot disable these and I found it far more satisfying discovering the skips on my own than having them signposted.
The chapters are mostly straight forward. There are 12 of them(in reality it's more like 9 because the other three are gimmicky boss levels) and each chapter introduces or revolves around a gimmick. Basic movement, the introduction of a new soul card, new enemy types(like a charging skull that can instantly kill you, bubbles that can only be shot out of and not into and tripwires that kill you if you get in the way but are often used for elaborate fluff where a bunch of tripwires trigger other tripwires and cascade into killing a bunch of enemies). To my memory the most standout chapter is the penultimate one where the Book of Life is introduced, mainly because the other chapters don't exploit the game's mechanics as well as they should.
As mentioned above the Book of Life is a fairly long range telefrag on anything you have a clear line of sight on. But this chapter also introduces a rule that you no longer need to kill all the demons in a level to finish, meaning it's skip city. It's all about doing tricky, dangerous moves so you can reveal an enemy earlier and use the telefrag on them and get faster in the level. In every other chapter ace medals came very easily to me and were rarely satisfying until I was at least 4-10 seconds ahead of the time requirement for that level. In this chapter every level felt extremely satisfying to master and analyze and get the ace medals for. I think this is mostly because of the no-kill rule meaning the level designers had a lot more space to work with and the book of like is just an all round really fun ability to use. This is also the only chapter where the game(to a very limited degree, I counted it happening three levels out of 97) decides to fuck with you and require you to swap cards and delay discards instead of the game more or less handing you the cards you need in the order you need and not requiring you to swap cards at all. It was a really, really fun chapter and it completely made sticking to the end worth it.
As mentioned you can also find gifts in the levels as mini-side puzzles in every level. These gifts can be given to other characters in the story/VN mode central hub for various things. I'll skip most of them beyond the sidequests in this section. The sidequests are mini-levels with no time requirement but a gimmick based on whoever's sidequest it is. >Yellow's the shittiest where discard abilities are locked so you just rely on regular movement, which to be honest isn't all that fun on its own.
>Red's okay where the levels revolve around one type of card and mastering its movement mechanics. Outside of the dominion/rocket launcher one these were very straightforward and not much challenge, but still fun.
>Violet's fun. She's more or less focused on being a gauntlet of traps and mix of cards. I like it if only that it's more challenging than Red's, however her final sidequest was really boring with the only gimmick being you go off the beaten path and then wait for a really easy timing puzzle to line up.
>Green's the most challenging mainly because you can't actually gift him anything, you find his sidequests in certain levels and the paths to getting them are more or less an extension of the level. I like those extensions, I utterly hate the following "sidequest area" where you literally just chase a stationary teleporting green ghost who yells A GANG every time you reach him and then spawns a bunch of really straight forward linear platforms. That bit could have been cut out with absolutely no issues.
That's about it for the gameplay. It's really fun but I wish it let loose with the no kill requirements because the level design feels shackled in the majority of the levels and it takes away from the satisfaction of mastering them.
The game has a story, it's mostly inconsequential and not very pleasant to listen to thanks to the writing. You're a Neon, basically an assassin/warrior who died and went to Hell but have been brought to Heaven for 10 days to clear out a demon infestation in a kind of free for all royale of who can kill demons the best for a year long stay in Heaven until the next cycle. He doesn't really have a set character beyond "poser nerd who' actually has the cool skills". Talks about anime and video games and "norway death metal bands where you can't get any of the lyrics" and is a katana fag. Funnily enough the entire time I thought the nerd doing his voice was some guy trying to imitate Steve Blum and then it turned out it was Steve Blum.
>White(your character) has amnesia but feels a connection to the other side characters.
>Yellow: Is the generic "brodude" character. He's really chummy with White and more or less talks like Michaelangelo from the TMNT except with a lot more twitter mannerisms and braindamage. He also makes anime references and a blatant reference to Naruto.
>Red: Cheesecake love interest. She loves to tease White.
>Violet: Brat with thick thighs and an absolutely painful voice/dialog. She's the "ha ha I'm an absolute psycho aren't I quirky and lovable" character.
>Green: The antagonist. white has a hate boner for him.
>Raz: One of the angels you meet. Is basically a bartender(who only serves water) and is completely clueless and curious about mortal life.
>Mikey: Another angel. His portrait is literally Garfield for 'funny' reasons and likes mafia movies. He also gives you your missions.
>Believers: Basically the "pure" souls who belong in heaven. They're all snooty elitists
Naturally you gain back your memories by progressing in the game(and character specific memories by giving them gifts). Turns out that White and the other colors were part of a gang that got wiped out in a heist orchestrated by Green, their boss. The heist was an excuse for him to more or less suicide the gang in a grudge against some guy who wronged him a while back. White was the second in command but was Green's bitch and as such instead of talking him out of it he hyped up the rest of the crew into taking the job which is why he has a hate boner. White and Red were lovers, Yellow was more or less the generic brodude of the gang, and Violet was more or less the psycho brat of the gang and she really wanted Green's dick, to the point where she was jealous when White was recounting to her his sparring session with him where Green ambushed him, gave him a piledriver(because his dick was in his face, get it? FUNNY) and sat his ass on White's face.
It also turns out that the believers were sour faggots who did not like that Heaven allowed people from Hell redemption and that they weren't special so they revolted against God and put him in stasis, the remaining angels more or less surrendering to them. The demon infestations are a result of that war and the cycles are their answer to those infestations.
Ultimately Green(the top dog for demon slaying) revolts and kills all of the believers, aiming to unite the books of life and death to send everyone to hell because he was sour that his life wasn't all roses(mainly because he's still asshurt about the guy who wronged him in life). You kick his ass(Because apparently White was chosen by God or something, I really wasn't paying much attention at this point) and then as the other angels are putting God back together you either choose to put Green in the book of life, forgiving him and giving him the redemption he refuses or the book of death(I didn't pick this option).
God then puts the rest of the gang in the book of life showing that they're all redeemed.
I really disliked the VN bits. This is for two main reasons
>The dialog is really, really, really shit.
>It's absolutely basic in terms of visuals and style.
There's extremely little to the VN parts when it comes to unlockables. Very little CG, no dialogue choices or interesting conversations with the other characters, the most you get are gifts from the angels. Raz gives you various crafts representing each of the other neons, while Mikey gives you drawings of how each neon sees the angels. Some of them like White/Red see them as cats similar to Garfield, Yellow sees them as wrestlers, Violet as ??? and Green as the devil from Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2(the really buff not Nathan Splosion from Metalpocalypse version of the devil).
Otherwise you get "heavenly delight tickets" for acing an entire chapter. You go up to believers who give you various "rewards" alongside other top earners like mining gems for the believers, a spa day, a cookout, etc. I only really liked two of these, the ones where the other top earner is Green. One is making friendship bracelets with him where they're both at each other's throats, and the other is a cookout. The rest are mostly cringey but I did like seeing Violet and Red in swimsuits.
The part that really bothers me here as well is the unskippable animation for giving gifts. There's so much reuse and wasted time where you have to go through a dialog box, then the prompt that you can gift someone a gift, then waiting on the screen to fade out, fade in again with the character's insight bar, the 7-9 second animation of the gift going into the insight bar and the bar filling up, the 5 second animation of the title of your reward, the screen to fade out again and then you getting the reward. It gets even worse when you have multiple gifts because you can't just give them all in one batch, this has to be done individually for each gift and you usually get 2-3 gifts for EACH CHARACTER every chapter.
It's also very intuitive because you can't just use the keyboard to get through this faster. You can't pick who you want to speak to through the keyboard, but you can't fast forward except with the keyboard, but you can't select any of the options of the gift giving prompt except with the mouse and you can't fucking fast forward the dumb gifting animation. It's annoying as shit and it's the icing of the shit cake that is the story/VN bits of Neon White.
Once you're done with the game you get level rushes for each character. IE you can go through all of Red/Violet/Yellow's sidequests in one go, or the regular levels but all of the cards are replaced by the rocket launcher or whatever. I'm not a big fan of these "in one go" modes so I skipped out.
I really enjoyed the game but I'm glad I pirated because 25 dollars is far too much for what's here and a lot about it irked me.
>Penultimate chapter was a blast
<bit on the easy side
<VN bits are utter cringe