Neon White developer Ben Esposito has revealed the indie breakout was influenced by speedrunners.
Esposito explained in an interview with Edge Magazine how watching speedrunning videos sparked his initial ideas and then later cemented the main mechanic of the game:
“It was really interesting to me that, at a super-high level [speedrunning] becomes a little bit less about your execution and more about solving a puzzle to shave off some time," says Esposito. "You have very limited resources, and people come up with the most ingenious ways to use, like, a stray Goomba."
At heart, Esposito admits he is a puzzle designer and the concept of time being its own enigma was an allure he couldn’t ignore. His fascination with speedrunning grew as he became more and more impressed with the ingenuity it inspired in players who used their resources sparingly whilst yielding so many different results.
Neon White is an assassin game mixed with Sonic the Hedgehog, with its own "limited resources" being a card system. You plays as White, a character who died and has been picked by Hell to cure Heaven of its demon problem. While White is currently on a temporary visa in Heaven, there's the lure of permanent residency beyond the pearly white gates.
The main goal is to complete each level as fast as possible, and you can decide whether to trade ammunition cards for weapons or switch them for parkour movements in the heat of the moment. As Esposito explains “as in any good card game it’s all about when to hold onto your hand and when to play it."
The quicker the run through, the better the score and shinier the medal received at the end. The levels are built for replayability, and players can always go back and explore the heavenly architecture in new ways to try and traverse faster and receive a better prize. To up the ante, once players win the Platinum medal, the leaderboards open up to them, offering a scintillating competitive edge to the game.
Neon White unfortunately has no specific release date confirmed, but it's set to release in early 2022 on Nintendo Switch and PC.