Hide among NPCs and knife your pal in this free same-screen multiplayer murderfest

Hey, do you like going shoulder-to-shoulder with a pal to battle in same-screen local multiplayer games? Follow-up question: do you enjoy deceiving your pal while trying to uncover their own deceit? Last question: do you want to throw knives at your pal’s face? If so, check out Neon Knives, a fun free same-screen game for two players where you must both try to blend into a crowd of NPCs while identifying and assassinating your mate.

You can play Neon Knives for free in your browser on Itch.io, where you can also download standalone Windows and Mac versions. First released in 2022, it’s made by Cookie Crayon, a two-person team hailing from New Zealand. Yes, it is 2024 now, but the game is only coming to my attention now and murder is still fun, so get to it, you snazzy little assassin you.

Honestly, anyone could be throwing those knives, okay | Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Cookie Crayon

There you are, you and your pal, spawning in random spots as random characters in single-screen levels with a big crowd of NPCs. You each have one of the same three random skins as the NPCs so the first step is figuring out who you are. The NPCs randomly mill about, stopping and starting, so maybe make a few cautious moves and watch who moves at that time—or watch who moves as your pal touches their side of the keyboard. So begins the cautious stealthy battle of trying to identify your opponent and get close enough to lobbing a throwing knife into their face before they get you. Though if you fluff it and nail an NPC, the rainbow knife trail and corpse will help them track you down. Unless you do it on purpose to lure them in? Oh, what treachery!

Colourful covert violence in a Neon Knives screenshot.

Colourful covert violence in a Neon Knives screenshot.

It’s a very pretty game | Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Cookie Crayon

Different levels introduce new opportunities for stealth and trickery. Some have sight-blocking obstacles like trees or a giant sword, giving you a little breathing room to identify yourself, hurl knives unseen, or perhaps try to assume the place of a passing NPC who looks like you. Or perhaps the cover is a giant snail that’ll crawl about as it pleases. Perhaps the movement of birds or tumbleweed will distract your eye. One level takes place on a tiny island with only a handful of characters, which could be extra tense or turn bloody fast.

It’s a basic idea you might know from games like Hidden In Plain Sight, Contact Cowboy, Thief Town, Just Act Natural, Unspottable, and various Assassin’s Creed games, but it’s a fun idea and I’m glad to see it realised so colourfully—and with the coolest weapon.

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