Over the years, I’ve played my fair share of scary games. I believe my real first scary game that I can think of had to be The 7th Guest. This was on PC and playing this as a young child was pretty terrifying. Later down the road, another scary game that comes to mind is that of the original Resident Evil. Now this game took horror to a whole new level and at least for me, kept me awake at nights with the lights on. There was something about the eeriness of this mansion you were trapped in and not quite knowing what was going to happen next in the next room you would explore. The story would slowly unfold as you uncovered more and more of the mansion and though dangers lurked at almost every corner, you just couldn’t stop.
I mention Resident Evil because the game I’m talking about here has much in common with it. White Night by Osome Studio is a survival horror game much like Resident Evil, but instead of zombies and mutated creatures, we get haunting ghosts. This to me is a lot more terrifying than zombies as ghosts are a supernatural phenomenon that are real (depending on who you ask of course).
White Night takes place in the year 1938 during the Great Depression era. You start off as nameless man on his way home from a bar. What seems like any other night soon turns to disaster as you strike a young woman in the middle of the road causing you to crash your car into a tree. You get out to inspect, but find no trace of the young girl. Not only that, you’re now injured and stranded in the dark and must seek help at a nearby house. This is where your adventure begins whether you like it or not as you are now thrust upon a mystery you must solve in order to ensure your survival.
Obviously the first thing you’ll notice about White Night is the art style. Everything is black and white which represents dark and light. There are no greys. You either see it on the screen or your don’t. The blackness in the game keeps things very mysterious and unnerving as you never know what you are going to find in the darkness. Actually, I should say that all things are black and white as there is some color that appears from time to time such as with the color of fire and the appearance of the mysterious woman that you see in green. Also the hostile ghosts seem to appear as shades of grey which you can spot in both the light and dark areas. It certainly is an effective visual style for survival horror and adds quite a bit of tension without having to resort to jump scares, which to me is a cheap way of making games scary.
Gameplay wise, this is very reminiscent of classic survival horror games. Much of it is you just exploring this house at a slow pace. When I say explore, I mean you want to explore everything. You need to search every inch of the house for clues, photos, journals, newspaper clippings, etc. You want to view every painting, portrait, scrap of paper you find, or object that seems out of place. You can pretty much click on almost everything and you want to do so because it will review layers upon layers of story giving you more and more clues about what is going on.
There are some enemy encounters, but you can’t really do much to fight back other than run towards a light source. The ghosts in the game are susceptible to light so if you see one of those angry specters coming towards you, you best head for a room that has an electric light source. That’s the only thing that keeps them back. Other than that, there’s not much more in terms of combat.
White Night is more about exploration and some environmental puzzle solving than it is about combat. Again, search everything and pick up what you can. You may need it later to solve some kind of puzzle or activate an event that will move you forward. Pick up all the matches that you find because you will need them to see and since you can only carry a very limited amount, replenish your inventory often. Scattered through the house are also armchairs that are used as save points. I suggest using this often as well because if you die, this is where you’ll restart from. The worst is when you don’t save and die. You will lose all your progress up until the last save.
One of the few criticisms I have of the game is that it can be quite easy to get lost. Without a visual map of the house, it’s easy to get flipped in the wrong direction and I found myself visiting rooms that I didn’t need to be in or couldn’t find where I had to go because I didn’t know where I was. But then again, I guess that in real life you can’t really rely on a map to be handed to you when you’re exploring some creepy house.
White Night is surely a treat for any survival horror fan. The visual style is itself really makes the game stand out as well as the dependance on light and darkness. Resident Evil fans will appreciate how similar in gameplay this is to the original few games while still being quite unique on its own. There is a lot of reading in this game however, so that might turn some people off, but those who appreciate a good story will enjoy all this game has to offer and how deep it can get. This is definitely a game I think everyone should experience.
Overall, I give White Night a solid recommendation. It’s a very tense game that does survival horror right and one that I think a lot of people will enjoy.
Review code provided to us by the publisher/developer.
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