Review: White Night (PS4)

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Title: White Night
Format: PlayStation Network Download (2.1 GB)
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Activision
Developer: OSome Studio
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: M
White Night is also available on Xbox One, PC, Mac, and Linux.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
You are driving down a lonely road in the darkness of the night when suddenly you see a young women appear in the middle of the road. You swerve but can’t avoid her. You crash. As you stumble out of your car dealing with the aftereffects of the crash you look for the woman but she is nowhere to be found. Where did she go? Maybe you should check that spooky mansion nearby?

This is the opening to White Night, the new horror game from OSome Studio and while it begins with a cliché the game sets itself apart by having a unique look heavily influenced by film noir. The world of White Night is filled with darkness so light is tough to come by. The game’s black and white presentation is key to the feel and builds the reliance on light being of utmost importance.

Players enter the spooky mansion and begin to explore in an attempt to unravel the mystery of the woman. You soon find out that the mansion lacks proper electricity and you have to rely on matches as your main light source. The game limits the amount of matches you can carry to twelve despite your character totally appearing to be capable of holding way more than that. The again, if you had an unlimited supply of matches the tension would be gone.

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The lack of lighting combined with its black and white visual style makes for a claustrophobic atmosphere that creates a scary and panic filled time. Another thing that comes with that combination is the struggle of bumping into the environment often which, while realistic, leads to frustration – especially when dealing with the enemies.

The mansion is haunted by a ghost/witch that you are unable to defend yourself against. The only way to defeat her is to find a light source powered by electricity. But since it is the 1930’s and you are in a haunted mansion, electric lights are few and far between. Witches appear more frequently as you progress with many being thrown at you in one area at a time. This can truly be aggravating because of the lack of a defense giving you no choice but to run.

… it all builds on the visual presentation …
This is when a game where you can’t see much can become a problem as you get caught on the environment a lot. This gives the witch just enough time to catch you. Either that or your match goes out and you do not realize you are about to run straight into a witch.

When you die you are sent back to your last save point which for the most part will be whatever place you last saved. Saving happens when you find a certain chair in a room that has a more reliable source of light. These chairs are somewhat spread out so it is always a good idea to save at one whenever you see it because you will likely die at the hands of a witch and having to redo sections takes a lot of the horror and joy from the game.

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So what do you do in the mansion when not running from witches? Solve the mystery at hand. You do this by finding clues through collectibles that come from books, journal entries, newspaper clippings, and letters. These help build a creepy and dark story and it’s worth reading each one.

Outside of that, sections are completed by solving puzzles that are pretty basic in design like finding certain objects in the environment that can be used to reveal more of the story. Most of the time progress hinges on lighting the mansion which equates to finding lamps or switches and powering them up. Everything comes down to light being your best friend and without it you are doomed.

… the gameplay … borders on frustrating …
Visuals:
White Night stands out with its black and white visuals. Other games have gone the black and white route, but OSome Studio found a way to make it scary. From the flickering lights of shoddy electricity to a match about to give out it all builds on the visual presentation to make for a unique and sometimes panic inducing experience. It is a simple, but effective in design.

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Audio:
Music plays a key element to the experience. The soundtrack captures the feel of a noir classic with a wonderful lounge singer accompanied by a piano. The jazz influenced music is a perfect match for what White Night is trying to accomplish and worth a listen even outside the game.

The voice work of the main character relies on the classic noir detective narrating and giving inner monologues on what is happening around him. The actor does a good job at sounding like the classic gritty private detective archetype of noir.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only.

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Conclusion:
White Night is an interesting take on the horror genre. It definitely has its own vibe that attempts to capture the 1930’s era and while it accomplishes that aspect, when it comes to the gameplay it borders on frustrating. Stumbling through the darkness might be realistic, but it is often not that much fun after stumbling causes you to be attacked by a witch that you have no defense against.

Getting past the idea of having to restart a section is easy to do if you get into the story despite it being pretty cliché. The game is billed as a horror game, but in terms of scare factor I wouldn’t rate it very high. It stays away from cheap jump scares and instead focuses on creepiness and everyone’s fear of the dark for its horror thrills. It’s more mystery adventure than horror. All in all it’s an enjoyable four to six hour experience.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Michael Cwick

Michael Cwick

Just a nerd from the Windy City. I’m actually really bad at describing myself because I get all self-critical and self-conscious. Follow me on Twitter, @The1stMJC, to see my borderline insane rants on tv shows and other non important subjects. If I’m not tweeting I’m probably just watching Buffy or Firefly for the millionth time.

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