Neon White is marketed as a game made ‘for freaks, by freaks’. Spend so much time on this silky anime inspired speedrunning FPS game, and you will understand what developer Angel Matrix means. For those who have yet to delve into it, lead developer Ben Esposito tells The Loadout that his definition of a “freak” is someone who “appreciates the rough edges of video games — the weird, underrated, and unhinged content that comes with video games.” history.”
Of course, when we get an answer like that, it’s only natural that we would investigate Esposito about the fruitier elements of Neon White. After all, the visual novel-style story is filled with plenty of one-liners that have already given many players a long break in the horny prison.
The ‘cornification’ of gaming isn’t new, of course – we certainly can’t complain about the influx of hotties across the gender spectrum we’ve seen in recent years. Neon White’s own players aren’t alone in the nod, and are joined by those who’ve fallen prey to the unabashedly sordid wiles of recent titles like Hades and Resident Evil Village – though the latter, as Esposito recalls, was a lucky 9 used to be. 6-inch major accident that he wished Capcom had leaned further on.
“I’m not trying to criticize the game in general,” Esposito emphasizes, “it’s [Capcom] had a concept with Lady Dimitrescu that was very exciting for a lot of people – as a character she is conceptually very cool. It’s common knowledge that it didn’t necessarily expect that particular aspect [tall vampire lady that can step on you] would be the most exciting for everyone – they’re trying to make a cast of what I think are actually quite interesting characters.
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“But when you play it with that level of excitement, you’re like ‘oh, there wasn’t enough, they didn’t push that far enough’. It’s in good taste, but I would have liked a version more devoted to that type of character.”
For Neon White’s own characters – who go absolutely all-in on their respective archetypes – Esposito credits their designs to co-lead and wife Geneva Hodgson. “In the beginning we talked about the characters,” Esposito says, “and something we really wanted to do – and some people use this as a criticism of Neon White – was to explore the archetypes for themselves and ramble on about them.
“We notice that, especially in indie games, there is a desire to see the common archetypes undermined. And we see them over and over, to the point where we don’t really think undermining them is that interesting anymore, because it’s actually its own formula.”
Esposito says he and Hodgson found it difficult to find perfect examples of, say, the “cute-but-psycho” character Violet has become. So it was decided that the team would try to “completely nail and create the classic version of that particular archetype that people know, but it may not really have a hero character.”
The result is a lively – and mostly horny – cast of celestial hobos that players instantly love, to the extent that many have even created their own Neon characters.
“I think the general tone [across the team] is that it’s very empowering to see people understand the very specific things we were going for,” says Esposito. “So when someone makes their own Neon character, Geneva designed this universe so that they have a very clear, modular path to create their own character that feels like it’s part of this universe.”
Stay tuned over the next few days to learn more about our chat with Ben Esposito. Neon White is out now on PC and Nintendo Switch.