Neon White’s creative director on making the ‘best possible video game possible’


Neon White's creative director on making the 'best possible video game possible'

I don’t think I’ve ever played anything that mixes genres like that neon white. Let me try to summarize the game: you play as a demon hunter destroying baddies in the sky using cards that serve as either weapons or special movement abilities and the goal is to get through each level as fast as possible . It’s part first-person shooter, part first-person platformer, part puzzler, part card game, part time attack, and even part visual novel.

I tried to find a better description, but in an interview neon white Creative director Ben Esposito finally gave me one thing: “a really playful game.”

“It’s a really unlikely game,” he said. “It’s a really playful game that’s full of playful things. But the combination of elements is something nobody asked for.” I think he’s right about that – the idea of ​​a game that combines first-person action with a race against the clock backed by a charming story resonates ridiculous even in my wildest dreams.

In a video released last year, Esposito spoke about it neon white being a game “for freaks” and I asked him what he meant by that. “We wanted to create something that was unique and felt fresh, but still felt like it took a lot of inspiration from the history of video games, especially late 90’s and early 2000’s Japanese games,” he said. “We say it’s for geeks because you have to have an open mind and be into weird mid-low budget tropes and clichés. It may not be as dignified as another game.”

neon white is Esposito’s successor to Donut Countya delightful but much simpler game where you play as a hole. Donut County is deliberately very accessible. “Part of Donut counties The design was that someone four years old could play it,” Esposito told me. So with neon white, he went in a different direction. “I wanted to challenge myself to do something really different, which is to make a game that’s a lot more about systems and gameplay and just pure fun.” Instead of trying to make another game that tries to serve everyone, ” I will try to minister to myself when I was in middle school,” he said.

neon white would certainly have served me in middle school. I played through it as a kid Star fox 64 countless times to try to get a better high score, and neon white makes me race to the top of the leaderboards and feel extremely cool in the process.

But apart from the gameplay and aesthetics, what really kept me playing neon white were the many small discoveries in each level. Most take less than a minute to beat, so it’s easy to practice over and over again without feeling like you’re wasting time. With each repeated run, you might find a new way to shave split seconds when rounding a corner, or even a significant shortcut that shaves seconds off your time. A bonus gift item – a literal gift-wrapped package – is also hidden in each level, and they can be given to characters to unlock new dialogue and missions.

It’s easy to get into a flow state during gameplay, and that’s by design. “Our goal with the levels and overall gameplay was to make it really clear,” Esposito said. “Everything had to be really, really clear and simple.” That way, the game could more easily pull players into what Esposito called the “speed zone.” The team brought in some speedrunners for level testing, but found it made more sense to test with players of average skill level instead. “Speedrunners will eventually find out. They love pain,” he said. “But the average person needs to be pulled along.”

neon white exudes style too, and I had to ask about one of my favorite little details about the game: the “mission complete” sequence. After beating a series of levels, a short cutscene will play where the main character turns around in front of the camera, says the same silly one-liner and says the words “ORDER COMPLETED” fade across the screen. It feels like a relic from my childhood that I look back on fondly, but it’s right here in a game released in 2022. “That kind of victory dance animation, with a sound cue and that repeating bit of sound that he says every time, to me, that’s so video games,” Esposito said.

All in neon white seems to have been born out of this philosophy. “What’s at the heart of the game for me is the idea of ​​being the best video game possible,” Esposito said. “Not everyone appreciates that we made what would normally be considered bad decisions when developing a game. We made them on purpose. This game is meant to be fresh. It’s an original idea and a new way of playing gameplay, but it’s also meant to celebrate the weird, screwed up, and nonsensical parts of video games that make them so fun.”

You May Also Like