Game Review: White Night (Xbox One)
White Night is a third-person narrative driven survival horror game developed by OSome Studio and set in the jazz/noir-era of the 1930s. The game blends third-person action, exploration and puzzle solving with tension, challenge and a tone of old-school survival horror adventures.
You play as a mysterious protagonist that investigates a shadowy mansion in the dead of night after a near-fatal car crash with a beautiful woman. What started as a search for aid will become a desperate quest to unearth the secrets behind the manor’s tortured past and its inhabitants last moments.
White Night’s stylish black and white art direction immediately caught my eye when I saw it advertised at E3 2014. Light cuts through the darkness to reveal hidden paths and clues, providing a sanctuary against the terrors lurking the estate but it’s a resource that must be managed carefully. White Night’s cinematic atmosphere is further advanced with immersive static camera-shot views of the environment, reminiscent of Resident Evil games of old. However, this isn’t always a good thing. While it can be impressive visually, from a gameplay point of view it sometimes ends up being a hindrance when attempting to find the sweet spot between two different shots. If you’re frantically running to find a light switch and the camera repeatedly flicks from one view to another, it can be a fairly cumbersome experience that will only lead to deaths.
Talking of dying, get used to that because it will happen a lot and quite often there will be nothing you can do about it.
Although the game initially gives you the impression that you’ll be safe in the light you’ll soon discover that it’s not quite that simple. It seems ghosts are only unable to enter light that is created by electrics so if you thought that the light emitted from your matches would keep you safe well, think again. It doesn’t make complete sense why exactly this is but you’ll just have to role with it and keep clear of those pesky, light bulb hating entities.
Avoiding the enemies is the name of the game but sometimes that just isn’t possible and you’re forced into situations where you have to get up close and personal with them. Unless you’re near an electric light source then don’t get their attention because nine times out of ten you’ll be grabbed and killed, I found it very frustrating. Be sure to take advantage of the save system which comes in the form of lounge chairs, the protagonist takes a seat and gives you a brief moment of calm before you venture back into the shadows. These chairs are few and far between so save often or you’ll lose significant amounts of progress due to unfair deaths.
White Night has a creepy atmosphere but I wouldn’t necessarily call it scary. The ghostly enemies are well designed so getting chased by one as the soundtrack amps up is sure to get your blood pressure raised. There were a handful of moments where the game made me jump but these were mostly what I would consider jump-scares. While it may not be particularly scary, White Night makes up for that in the atmosphere department which it has by the bucket load.
I found myself genuinely intrigued by the goings on in the estate and the unfolding story which is mainly expressed through extremely well-written optional diaries and photo albums. While the outcome felt quite predictable, I felt it was engaging enough that I was satisfied.
What would a survival horror game be with puzzles!? White Night has a decent amount of them and they’re creatively woven into gameplay.
The Moon is cleverly integrated into the game in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. There are a number of times during the game when the Moon will be present and its exact appearance will mirror that of our very own, real-life Moon! There are a few achievements that require you to meet certain requirements while playing during a full moon.
There is definitely something to be said about the length of the game and what else is there to say other than that it’s short, very short. If you played through the game without doing much exploring and not bothering with collectibles then you might come away unhappy. On my secondary playthrough when I knew exactly what I was doing and where I was going, I completed the game in just under an hour and 45 minutes.
Another thing, while I do think using matches to light your path is a rather interesting mechanic and one that creates some impressive visual effects considering the black and white style of the game. I never felt at risk of running out of them or anything which is a shame; it’s a little too generous in that regard. I understand that it had to be because without matches you’d be screwed but I just felt it was a little too forgiving. Anyway, matches will only help you to a certain extent as navigating the environment will probably leave you feeling lost a bunch of times due to the almost complete darkness.
I really enjoyed my time with White Night and would absolutely love a future installment that expanded on the visual mechanics of the game. Imagine exploring a much larger mansion or a town? Now that would be awesome. If you’re a fan of old school, classic survival horror games e.g. Resident Evil/Silent Hill then I think you’ll feel similarly about the game as I do. It’s a shame that much of the narrative is lost within optional collectibles but I highly recommend you take the time to get them as it’s really rather interesting. The game does have a number of issues and due to it’s length, I couldn’t allow myself to rate it higher.
The Final Score - 7.5/10