“Survival Is A Full Time Job.”
Stumbling my way through the unwelcome darkness of an old, roadside mansion, a feeling of fear washed over me. Still out of sorts from an accident, I limped about in search of light, where only the dead reveled in the dark. Merely armed with a pack of matches, a commission of maintaining my sanity and existence was underway. White Night embodies many clever ideas and is sure to grant some spooks, even if the final product isn’t up to par with it’s hefty goals.
Set in Boston during the Great Depression, a late night and one too many drinks put the nameless, protagonist, carelessly behind the wheel. Inevitably, fate takes the upper hand and the intoxicated, fedora-clad hero, runs over a girl standing in the center of the road. Floundering from the wreckage, the lead staggers his way toward what appears to be an abandoned mansion. While in search of answers, it soon becomes clear the unfortunate accident was only just the tip of the iceberg. What lies behind the mansion doors is an elaborate amplification on one common human emotion; fear of darkness.Between the unforgettable comic book style aesthetic and prominently mature themes, White Night, is brewing with the creeps. What stands out most about the captivating visual presentation is it’s unique look. Everything the game pulls off, directly links back to a Sin City style aesthetic. The only hint of color is the small orange glow of fire and matches; the only source of light and protection.
Defenseless terror is something rare in the genre of survival horror these days. Instead of having to rely on stomach-churning gore and constant shooting, White Night respects the roots of survival horror. Fixed camera angles, limited save points and major disadvantages against foes, are just a few features that parade its obvious influences. White Night is sure to find a hard-core fan base, presumably with those eager for a tenuous and spooky challenge.
The mansion’s creaks and moans, under our lost hero’s feet, along with an impending storm, all contribute to a brilliant sound design. Over the course of the game, spurts of voice acting are both written and read with style. The interactive perspective of this game set in the 1930s is clear and concise. As players search, books and newspapers are found lying around the mansion. If opened, they contain tidbits of backstory that I found much more interesting than the humdrum puzzles I was attempting to solve.
Action-oriented horror games are much more common than they used to be, which is why it was nice to see White Night’s departure, adding genuine fear that veterans of the genre know very well. While the encroaching sense of defenseless terror found it’s way into White Night, I was left frustrated more with the burdensome and unnecessary difficulty of the game.Agitating confrontations with unfair enemies, repetitive puzzles, frustrating fixed camera angles, and unforgivingly long distances between save points, make White Night a conflicted experience. A certain degree of challenge is essential when building a video game, but it is safe to say White Night took it too far. Vague direction when it came to puzzle solving, and problematic enemy placement, made my journey through the abandoned mansion arduous.
White Night’s more precarious battles with consistency, ended up putting far too much weight on the story, in order to carry the player through it’s many less than quality moments. All this unnecessary pressure ended up breaking down an interesting narrative, that was heading in the right direction. The potential of a good procedural horror game is here, but vanished into the shadows, just like it’s unruly enemies. Insta-death, along with my aforementioned complaints, all diminish from a game that wants to do something different and meaningful, but doesn’t know how to interject fear, fun and difficulty into something that actually works cohesively.Summary: Developer OSome Studio’s respectable debut has a great premise, with some solid ideas that will have hardcore survival horror fans feeling like a kid in a candy store, at first glance. Until finding out the treats are bitter, White Night holds up, but it’s unfortunate it dies down before it even really gets going. It’s memorable visual aesthetic capitalized on an experience that at times, genuinely had me frightened, though managed to disappear as it’s significant and frustrating problems took center stage. As it turns out, stumbling around in the dark still isn’t enjoyable; even in a video game.
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