Neon White is marketed as a game made ‘for freaks, by freaks.’ Spend any amount of time with this silky-smooth anime-inspired speedrunning FPS game, and you’ll understand what developer Angel Matrix means. For those who have yet to delve in, lead developer Ben Esposito tells The Loadout that his definition of a ‘freak’ is someone who appreciates “the rough edges of videogames – the weird, under-loved, and unhinged content that is part of videogame history.”
Of course, when given such an answer it’s only natural that we would probe Esposito about the fruitier elements of Neon White. After all, its visual novel-style story is filled with plenty of one-liners that have already booked many-a-player a long break in horny jail.
The ‘hornification’ 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 kink clink, and are joined by those who had fallen prey to the unabashedly smutty wiles of recent titles like Hades and Resident Evil Village – though the latter, as Esposito recalls, was a happy 9’ 6”-tall accident that he wishes Capcom would’ve leaned further into.
“I’m not trying to critique the game overall,” Esposito stresses, “it [Capcom] had a concept with Lady Dimitrescu that was really exciting to a lot of people – as a character she’s really cool conceptually. It’s public knowledge that it didn’t necessarily expect that particular aspect [tall vampire lady that can step on you] would be the most exciting to everyone – they’re trying to create a cast of what I think are actually pretty interesting characters.
<sputter, wheeze> pic.twitter.com/MCgmGm3lKy
— Geop! (@MrGeop) June 22, 2022
“But when you play it with that level of excitement going in you’re just like ‘oh, there wasn’t enough, they didn’t push that far enough’. It’s in good taste, but I would have loved to see a version that committed more to that type of character.“
For Neon White’s own characters – which absolutely go all-in on their respective archetypes – Esposito attributes their designs to co-lead and wife Geneva Hodgson. “Early on we were talking about the characters,” Esposito says, “and something we really wanted to do – and some people use this as a critique against Neon White – was to actually explore and indulge in the archetypes themselves.
“We find that, in indie games especially, there’s this desire to see the common archetypes subverted. And we see them over and over again, to the point where we actually don’t think subverting them is that interesting anymore, because it’s actually its own formula.”
After hunting around for references, drawing on characters from various forms of media, Esposito says Hodgson and himself found it difficult to pin down perfect examples of, for example, the ‘cute-but-psycho’ character that Violet came to be. So, it was decided that the team would endeavour to “totally nail and create the classic version of that particular archetype that people know, but it might not really have a hero character.”
The result is a vibrant – and majoritively horny – cast of heavenly vagabonds players have taken an instant liking to, to the extent that many have even created their own Neon personas.
“I think the general tone [across the team] is that it’s very validating to see people understand the very particular things that we were going for,” Esposito says. “So when someone makes their own Neon character, Geneva engineered this universe so that they’d have a really clear, modular path to creating their own that feels like it’s part of this universe.”
For more from our chat with Ben Esposito, keep your eyes peeled on the site over the coming days. Neon White is out now on PC and Nintendo Switch.