Developer: Osome Studio
Platform: Steam, Xbox One, Linux, PC, Mac, PS4
Genre: Survival Horror
Until a trailer some few weeks ago, I had never heard of Osome Studio’s ‘White Night’ and as such, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ll admit that the last thing I was suspecting was a survival horror with a film noir design approach – especially one this good.
White Night is set in the 1930s. The player assumes the role of a detective who, while driving, is involved in an accident when a strange girl darts out in front of his car. Even though he is severely injured, when he exits car the girl is nowhere to be found. Seeking help, he ventures inside a nearby mansion, only to be locked inside by someone unknown. The car accident it seems, was just the tip of the iceberg. To escape the mansion, he will have to solve the mystery surrounding its past…
I should probably point out here that I will be making an extra effort to not spoil the plot details of White Night, as a great deal of the game’s appeal lies in piecing together clues, solving puzzles and solving the mystery of the mansion.
Immediately noticeable about White Night, is its intriguing art direction. The game is completely monochromatic, in that the visuals are presented solely in black and white. There is nary a shade in between, giving the game’s visuals stark contrast. While I appreciated it, I had quite a few friends who struggled with noticing some of the game’s items in the dark, or had difficulty navigating the mansion. For what it’s worth, I quite like White Night’s black and white visuals, though there are times when a shade or two’s difference would be greatly appreciated.
Much like the old-school survival horror games that inspired White Night (such as the iconic Alone in the Dark), White Night makes use of scripted camera angles to give the game a more cinematic and at times, unsettling tone. What’s rather unfortunate then, is that these angles (despite being gorgeous on their own) quite often fail to blend and complement each other, meaning that the player will change direction or encounter an enemy thanks to a sudden camera angle change. Even at the start of the game I was getting frustrated while I explored the mansion grounds, and having to figure out exactly how to get to an area I could see in a previous camera angle was an accidental puzzle that I barely had the patience for.
Gameplay is mainly exploration and puzzle-based, though players will learn rather early into the game that they will have to do so whilst avoiding deadly spirits that haunt the mansion. Most of the time, the puzzles and exploration is quite fun and can be rather clever, though once again minor annoyances to occur from time to time. If players get stuck, they can also check the various intel they’ve acquired from the mansion, such as newspapers, photos, journal entries and random notes.
Speaking of intel, one area in which White Night shines in particular is that the collectibles in the game aren’t simply padding or inconsequential – they are in fact, rather interesting. They will provide the player will helpful tips on how to survive, solve puzzles, and solve the mystery of the mansion.
Throughout the game, players will encounter evil spirits hellbent on unleashing their wrath upon the injured detective. Similar to a lot of modern survival horror games, these encounters will largely be a no-win situation, with the player’s only choice being to run. You can, however, turn on a nearby light to frighten away or destroy the apparitions.
While these encounters do have moments of genuine terror, the enemy spawning seems to have been poorly executed, as they are random and at times, unfair. My latest save has a ghost spawning in a doorway, and unfortunately for me, the doorway is the only way I can actually go, meaning that I have to load to a previous checkpoint or restart the game. Looking at user reviews on Steam shows that I’m not the only one suffering at the hands of a clumsy ghost spawn. A shame, as it really does ruin a player’s progress at times.
Overall, White Night is a decent title with a few hiccups, one of which is a real game-breaker. The game is clever and enjoyable, but it won’t appeal to everyone. If you’re a survival horror buff and have finished other recent horror games, give White Night a go.