The visual contrast in the noir-inspired horror game
White Night will certainly turn heads, but the adventure through an atmospheric mansion fizzles out with half-baked ideas and frustrating gameplay mechanics. Set during one of the worst periods in American history (the Great Depression), the start of the game has you slowly hobble your way to a nearby creepy mansion after crashing your car.
A survival horror at heart, White Night similarities can be tied back to the classic Resident Evil games due to the fixed camera angle, eerie music, and strong atmosphere. Instead of pulling out a weapon and shooting lumbering zombies, you'll be spending your time managing your inventory; especially the limited amount of matchsticks you're holding at any given moment. Luckily, as you explore the dark interior, you'll come across additional matchbooks scattered across end tables and pieces of furniture. Light plays an integral role in the game, not only allowing you to explore the dark of the mansion, but keeping you alive as well. Linger too long in the dark and you will sucomb to your fears, eventually dying. The game lacks any combat mechanics. The light will keep the woman that haunts the mansion at bay, but you'll need to find something stronger than a matchstick.
The matchsticks aren't bright enough to ward off the spirits that haunt you, so through the most of the game you'll need to run when an apparition appears. Herein lies my main gripe with the game: a single touch by a ghost is death. The fixed camera does wonders with the atmosphere, especially when it tracks the player through an outside window. It doesn't do any favors for the gameplay however since the camera angle can suddenly change. It isn't a problem when you are slowly making your way through rooms, but the changing angles while running away from an evil specter can be quite disorienting.
The save system is another story as you'll need to manually save by sitting in well-lit chairs. With cheap deaths being abundant(mostly due to the camera), I lost my drive to replay certain areas multiple times over. Atmospheric horror games lose their luster when you must replay and run through sections of the game multiple times.
At it's best, White Night knows how to set an atmosphere with moody music and unmatched tension. The noir style narration beautifully envelopes the game, something you don't see in many horror titles with cheap jump scares. The stark contrast of the black and white visuals will certainly turn heads, but I found the environment lacking in details. I had a hard time identifying some of the objects due to the abstract nature of them.
White Night is a valiant attempt at moving the adventure horror genre in a different direction, setting the mood with an atmospheric playground. Repeatedly replaying sections of the game due to ghost placement and a poor camera angle can grow tiresome. While a automated checkpoint system may have solved this issue, it could have produced it's own issues of players blazing through the game without the worry for consequence. The visuals and the tension are the key factors of the game, but I would like to see a more refined effort.
Note: The White Night review is based on a digital PC copy of the game, provided for review purposes.