White Night (Review) – A noire in the dark

White Night Review | A noire in the dark

White Night blends classic themes that sound fantastic on paper. It’s essentially a survival horror/adventure title hybrid, inked with a gorgeous Sin City-esque graphic novel style, toned with a classic 1930s detective noir vibe. I already want a film version.

We begin the tale with a car accident, which sees our protagonist hobbling towards a nearby mansion for help. And boy do I mean hobble. I’ve never endured such a slow opening 30 minutes in my life. I plodded up to the gates when the camera eventually let me see them, then up to the porch, then around the graveyard until I found the key, and then around the house for ages until I found the first save point, a couch. Thankfully, when our hero awoke, his injuries were healed and I was treated to a run button too.

White Night Review | A noire in the dark

Right, god awful start out of the way, I could get on with enjoying the game. The visuals are easily the highlight of the whole experience, with clear cut black and white imagery (no greys); this is one of the most striking games I’ve played on the PS4.

The atmosphere is incredibly creepy and a surprisingly snug fit for the noir detective vibe Osome have adopted as you explore what turns out to be a very haunted mansion full of murderous ghosts and creepy witches that provide plenty of jump scares.  The sound design is suitably unnerving too, with your steps echoing on the wooden floors, scratching noises behind doors and cracks of lightning all gelling to chilling effect.

White Night Review | A noire in the dark

White Night’s stylish visuals aren’t just for show though. The whole game is shaped around the aesthetic. Whenever you’re in the dark, you’re in danger from being attacked by ghosts, most puzzles involve trying to find a source of electrical light to provide a relative safe zone, or to illuminate a much needed save area.

You’ll find a limited number of matches around the mansion, which last longer than you’d expect a match to in real life, but you’ll certainly struggle to make a pack last while poking through the darkness.  If a ghost attacks, you must run away until they give up. They can only be destroyed by shining electrical lights on them, matches won’t cut it. If they get a hold of you, forget it, you’re dead. Save points are few and far between too. In some cases you might be able to quickly get back to where you died once you know what to do, but much of the time you face an irritatingly lengthy journey back. Each time this happens your enthusiasm for the game dwindles in the shadows like those matches nervously rattling in your pocket. A little hint, don’t try to light a match while moving or it’ll go out straight away and be wasted.

White Night Review | A noire in the dark

Other rough edges continue to nibble at your resolve, especially the locked camera angles. They’re either too far away or change at the worst time when fleeing a ghost, seeing you turn and run into a wall or straight back into a wailing witch’s clutches. Sure, these are classic genre problems, but the whole one-hit-kill philosophy makes it hard to forgive.

The puzzles are rarely difficult, you usually have to shine an electrical light on something by finding the plug or switch, but they’re made obnoxiously cumbersome by the lack of matches or the hero not being able to interact with items while holding a lit match.

White Night Review | A noire in the dark

Sadly, I found myself wanting to enjoy White Night more than I actually did. The story, mainly explained via the many diaries and newspaper clippings, builds towards explaining the different details of who the ghosts may be and why it looks like you’ve stumbled into what looks like a serial killer’s house. The match-light mechanic and distant save points make it feel like too much hard work though as retreading old ground while running out of matches or suffering another cheap death soon becomes irritating. You’ve gotta love those visuals though.

Pros

  • Excellent visual style
  • Interesting mix of genres
  • Creepy atmosphere and proper jumpy moments

Cons

  • Poor camera angles
  • Cheap deaths
  • So much backtracking

The Short Version: While it sounds great on paper, the execution varies throughout and for every moment of triumph, there are many more instances of frustration and exasperation. You’ll need extraordinary patience to see this one through to the end thanks to the sparse save points and insta-death attacks. There’s an intriguing plot buried amongst all the rough edges though and the visuals are excellent throughout. Fingers crossed Osome take another whack at a noir survival horror adventure hybrid as it’s bursting with potential.

6/10
————–
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed) | XO | PC
Developer: Osome Studio
Publisher: Activision

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