White Night Review: Incredible Style But Shallow And Without Substance
Poor storytelling and clunky camera drags down White Night’s promising concept.
It’s interesting to note just how many horror games have been released since the PS4 and Xbox One have been unveiled. The end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 have seen any number of games that were geared towards making you jump and White Night certainly falls into that category. The game also sets itself apart in this particular genre because there aren’t any kind of stomach turning gory scenes. There aren’t monsters with fangs dripping or killers stalking you from the depths of hell.
White Night stands out because at it’s core, it’s a ghost story that wants to make sure you are on the edge of your seat throughout. Once you are indeed sitting on the edge of your couch or your easy chair, White Night wants to lull you to sleep and then throw something at you that makes you jump back.
"The game is presented in a way that certainly stands out in the crowd because there are almost no actual colors. Everything is set in a black and white backdrop that certainly lends to the overall feel of White Night."
At times, the game pulls this off brilliantly. The first time I saw one of the spirits that inhabit the game, I did indeed jerk back a bit. Full disclosure, I had all the lights off in my house and was simply waiting for something scary to happen. I got what I was waiting for, even if it wasn’t nearly as hair raising or eye popping as the jump scares that are presented to us in something like the now famous P.T. White Night wants to be quite a bit more subtle and it does this well, if perhaps too well.
When the game opens, I was sitting behind the wheel of a car on a dark and desolate road when a sudden shape darts across my field of vision and causes me go to off the road. I (a nameless private detective) then stumbled to an apparently deserted house, wounded and looking for help. This is where the adventure really starts off, as I look for a way into the house, as well as clues as to where I am and why no one else seems to be around. Once inside the house, the mystery further unravels as I traverse through different rooms, having to find various forms of light that are first matches, the actual light switches and eventually ever growing means of shedding light on the room as well as the mystery itself.
The game is presented in a way that certainly stands out in the crowd because there are almost no actual colors. Everything is set in a black and white backdrop that certainly lends to the overall feel of White Night. This also makes the inability of being able to see what’s going on from one corner of the room to the next somewhat more believable because everything is already black, until light is shed on the subject and a white frame can be seen.
"The second big drawback of the game is the storytelling itself. That’s actually a rather large drawback when talking about a game that relies totally on storytelling."
This approach also allows White Night to look better than it likely would if colors were included in a fairly simple but eye catching animation. The fixed camera is another tool that doesn’t allow you to see much at one time. This is also the first real problem with the game because that fixed camera tends to switch unexpectedly to a different angle.
It’s possible this approach is meant to give the user a bit of an unsettled feeling, you think you know where you are in the room and then suddenly the point of view switches. If that was indeed the aim, it’s done rather clunkily. If White Night’s fixed camera does this to gamers accidentally, then it was a mistake to design the camera that way. No matter if the weird and sudden switches were intentional or not, they take something away from a game that needs everything going for it in order to draw you in.
The second big drawback of the game is the storytelling itself. That’s actually a rather large drawback when talking about a game that relies totally on storytelling. I didn’t fight off hordes of the undead or even have to do much running from enemies or trying to find a suitable weapon. The only weapon I was actually allowed was the light itself. My point is there isn’t nearly enough action for the storytelling to fall short.
"All in all, the game is fun enough to play, as long as you don’t get caught up in some of the goofier aspects and as long as you can get through the game quick enough not to get caught by the camera angle changes."
In White Night, it’s important to note that there is a difference between the storytelling and the story itself. The story is actually quite interesting and actually feels quite original, because you’re not running from hordes of the undead. The way it lays out the story at times is interesting as well, because I had to go and find little newspaper clippings or journal entries in order to figure out why I was at this house and why it was such a spooky house indeed. The story telling though, leaves something to be desired, thanks in large part to clunky dialogue that shoots for poetic but falls short and comes across as something the author of Twilight might write, if she decided to move into video games.
All of the dialogue is of the inner monologue variety in White Night and this actually makes the story telling that much clunkier. People don’t normally talk to themselves in that poetic a fashion. White Night is clearly trying to pass itself off as a kind of noir thriller straight from the 1930’s and it accomplishes this in some regard, but in the end, after a few hours of the same kind of clunky mechanics and dialogue, the story telling ends up being a very big negative.
All in all, the game is fun enough to play, as long as you don’t get caught up in some of the goofier aspects and as long as you can get through the game quick enough not to get caught by the camera angle changes. If you end up, as I did several times, going over the same painting five or six times because you lost track of where you were in the room, White Night becomes far too repetitive for the final payoff to be as fun as it could have been.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.
The look and feel of the game are also pretty cool as long as you ignore the fixed camera that can lead to frustration and too much confusion.
That fixed camera is really the death of this game. The hunt for a light source becomes tiresome as well. The clunky dialogue is the icing on the cake that brings the overall score down.
The game brings something we haven't seen all that much, but it doesn’t bring it in a way that makes you want to play the game hour after hour. When taken in small doses, White Night can actually bring a couple of scares and jumps but not enough of it to be among the best on the market.
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