Like a Good Date, 'Neon White' Makes Your Heart Pound

It’s sweet as sin itself, and goes down just as easy.
A screenshot of Neon White
Image Source: Neon White

Playing Neon White feels like handling a live wire. It’s electric, it feels dangerous, and the power you feel from mastering it is incredible. More than that, it’s deliciously and unrelentingly horny.

Aesthetically, Neon White feels like it was engineered in a lab for people who spent too much time at Hot Topic when they were teenagers. The plot of the game concerns a group of Neons, sinners from Hell who are given a chance at living in Heaven if they kill enough demons in a 10-day period. Let me stop there and back up—Neon White is a lot of things at once.

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Neon White has been described by its developers as a “speedrunning” game, but really it’s closer to a digital obstacle course. Each level is a series of hurdles and the game gives you various tools to overcome them. The first obstacle you encounter—other than the environment, which requires you to jump and run at high speeds— is a set of enemies that you can kill with either the sword you spawn with or guns you can pick up on the course, which are presented aesthetically as cards. You can shoot with those guns, or discard them, which grants you an additional ability to traverse all the obstacles. Your handgun gives you another jump when you discard it; your shotgun turns you into a fireball that rages forward; a light machine gun lets you plant a bomb. Almost all these abilities also give you new ways to get through these obstacles faster. When a bomb goes off and you’re next to it, you’re also flung up in the air, and able to casually leap across obstacles you’d otherwise have to face.

Much has already been written about how thrilling it feels to play this game, which is precise and lightning fast. Every time I open the game, I find myself afraid that I can’t complete the challenges put in front of me, but the game is so finely tuned that it allows for any solution to these obstacle courses, and while you can unlock hints for shortcuts, the best shortcuts are often the ones you come up with yourself. The game incentivizes going not only because you need to reach certain times to unlock the next story mission, but because it shows you a leaderboard of all your friends. I have not only friended more people on Steam because of this game, I regularly find myself replaying levels just so my friends won’t know how trash I am.

But the appeal of Neon White goes beyond just its wonderful gameplay. It’s also, as the marketing for the game declares, a game for freaks. Everyone is decked out in corsets with leather straps—including the men—and color coordinated in a way where you know that cosplay meet up photos are going to be incredible. This is a game where the main character is voiced by Steve Blum, whose voice has graced countless anime that I used to buy on DVD at Suncoast Video at the mall, and who most famously voiced the morally-ambiguous-but-emo-and-hot assassin Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop. When I hear that voice say particular phrases, like “Pretty good for a dead guy,” or “That little brat! I’m going to teach her a lesson she’ll never forget!” a desperate and keening part of me that I can’t fully control activates.

Despite having the markers of juvenilia—one Neon, Neon Violet, opts to sing My Chemical Romance at karaoke, and the titular Neon White chooses The Matrix as a special movie for killing so many demons—the way it handles sexuality feels surprisingly mature for a video game. That’s mostly because instead of trying to depict a love story, it depicts many potent stories of lust. Neon White blushes profusely whenever the buxom Neon Red is around, and calls her “yes ma’am” after she tells him that he’s like a puppy. He also gets flustered when Neon Violet pretends not to know how to use a gun as a way to get him to embrace her, remarking on Neon White’s hot breath on her neck. I don’t feel like the game is pandering to a male audience by objectifying these women, but respecting me by indulging in its own inclinations to be horny. These are women that are fully realized characters—characters who know that Neon White is a sinner just like they are. 

It isn’t just that their sexuality is a part of them, it’s that their sexuality is a fully integrated aspect of all these characters’ lives. Sex isn’t something that happens to these women; it’s something they participate in and are desirous of. This game presents a universe where people want to bone, and also where wanting to bone is perfectly natural, even if the pious residents of Heaven don’t approve.

The presentation of this game is what makes its gameplay feel so sharp, including the way it tells its story and characterizes the other Neons that compete with you and tease you shamelessly. Once you get the hang of Neon White’s fast-paced gameplay, it feels incredibly natural—as natural as the witty, sexy banter between the characters therein. It’s sweet as sin itself, and goes down just as easy.