Developed and published by OSome Studio
Available on Ps4, Xbox One, PC, Mac
You can practically see your breath from the moment you turn on White Night, the new title from OSome Studio. There is a dreamlike coldness to the game, one that is felt almost immediately as the player begins wandering the darkness of night in the aftermath of a shocking car accident.
Set in a sort of proto-noir 1938, this is a game that’s 50% ghost story, and 50% detective story. The supernatural elements are made clear pretty quickly, as White Night basically lifts the opening directly from the original Silent Hill, in which a ghostly woman causes a car accident, while the mystery bits evoke a Sin City comparison from the outset.
After a brief chapter that introduces the central gameplay elements , the player finds themselves inexplicably locked in a creepy mansion, with a box of matches and the frightfully unreliable electrical system as their only allies against the encroaching darkness. The reason this is a problem, outside of general horror knowledge, of course, is because this particular mansion happens to be filled with restless spirits who will relentlessly pursue you any time you spend too much time in the shadows. Only a sudden blast of light will eliminate these deadly specters, and the opportunity to create such a comforting display is a rare one indeed.
The game plays like the survival horrors of yesteryear, except without the comfort of even the most basic form of weaponry or combat expertise. Think of it like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, only in 3rd person. The save mechanic is only available via access to a certain object, much like the typewriters in Resident Evil or the journals in Silent Hill. Our protagonist here at least gets the benefit of an easy chair to save though, and for that, he should be thankful because this is an incredibly stressful game to play.
With the ghosts appearing more and more frequently as White Night continues along, death becomes as much of an accepted part of the game as if you were playing Super Meat Boy. Unfortunately, death is also a very punishing part of the experience, and leads to easily the game’s biggest drawback. Since save points are so rare, and ghosts appear at the most inopportune times, in scarcely lit rooms full of objects to get in your way, you can be killed in a moment’s notice after 10-15 minutes of gameplay, and be sent all the way back to your previous save.
Now, as a dedicated Dark Souls scribe, I’m no stranger to the frustration of death and the well-earned feeling of eventual success, but this is easily the most detrimental aspect of the game, and one that may have certain players rage-quitting with reckless regularity.
Let that not suggest that this game is not worth playing, however. On the contrary, for lovers of the horror genre, and those of us who remember old-school survival horror games with fondness, White Night is a lovely treat. The aesthetics are gorgeous, the music is evocative, and the story, told primarily through found pieces of newspaper and journal entries, is an involving piece of genre fiction. It’s noir trappings are also a huge bonus, as they give the game its own unique feel but are never leaned on to heavy. No one gets called a dame or a mook here.
Ultimately, White Night is a game that will leave a strong impact on players who are willing to put up with its steep and unforgiving difficulty curve, as anyone who finally uncovers what’s beneath the shadows will find themselves endlessly satisfied with the results.