Horror films are gash. They bore me with their predictable jump scares, lame narratives and idiotic implausible characters. Horror games on the other hand pull me into the screen and encase me into the world which I’m playing in, they make me forget I have a controller in my hand and they reassure me that it’s ok to crap my pants. Horror games that have at least an interesting narrative, that cause me to feel claustrophobic and reward difficult game play with sheer relief make for a successful journey that I can get behind, but if any one of these ingredients are missing, you’ll feel as disappointed and ripped off as you would have been if you’d gone to see ‘The Purge’. Unfortunately the latest horror scenario ‘White Night’ starts off very strong with it’s gorgeous art style and it’s intriguing narrative premise, but you’ll find yourself getting wound up and stressed more so than getting the heebie jeebies.
White Night is a brand new horror puzzle game from French team OSome, who clearly draw their inspiration from 1930s cinema and old school survival horror games. White Night, set in Boston in the 1930s, puts you in the role of a detective who inconveniently hits a young girl with his car and spirals out of control. After coming back around you find yourself outside of a creepy ass mansion which coincidentally is your only chance of finding help. It’s not long after you first step inside that something is a little eerie and this once empty, derelict building is a home for a family of ghosts. The act of survival in White Night is only achieved through the use of matches, and it’s these matches that keep the ghosts at bay by creating light that protects you, even if it’s only for a minute or two. Scattered throughout each room and garden are many puzzles which unlock doors, find secrets and solve the mystery of what happened here, and to do so, yes you guessed it, you’ll need those matches to light rooms and start fires in hopes of getting out alive. It definitely has an interesting idea, but does it burn bright?
For a game that relies on the use of light you’d need a pretty obscure way to make this the focal point, and what OSome have done is not create a game in black and white, but a game that is more or less a black screen with a few splashes of white thrown in. It’s a remarkable monochromatic art style that has received critical acclaim from everyone who has played the game, its limited light gives off that claustrophobic presence that I crave for when playing a horror title. White Night uses a fixed camera very similar to the likes of Resident Evil that makes it even more scary and difficult to see where you’re going and find what you’re looking for. It’s this fear of the unknown and the lack of instructions that make White Night a great play and it really is up to you to work out exactly what you need to do to progress. You are the light in a darkened room, literally, and lighting your matches will only give you a small window to hunt for light switches, keys and clues to completing each chapter. This nervous exploration works brilliantly and along with the superb graphical presentation, a perfect level of atmospheric tension is created that could rival any of the survival horror classics we’ve grown to love. It doesn’t take a great amount of time before you encounter your first ghost, which is represented as a blurry, almost transparent, twisted being that will be awaiting your arrival, and it’s at this point where the game loses all of that terrifying traction that’s been built up and instead kicks you right in the nuts.
Be sure to save your game as frequently as possible as bumping into one of these restless spirits will mean you’ll no doubt be restarting at the next checkpoint in just a few seconds time. If you are spotted by a ghost you’ll be subjected to a creepy high pitched shriek, followed by Insta-death, and this isn’t something which will only happen now and then, you WILL be killed in a very unsatisfying way. With the game’s fixed camera positions making it difficult to navigate as it is, trying to flee from a ghost is near impossible and if you’re nowhere near an electrical light (the only thing that will exorcise them), you may as well put that controller down and make yourself a drink, you ain’t surviving. It’s this level of unnecessary brutality that sucks all the fun out of White Night and stops the otherwise heart-pounding tension dead in its tracks. Every time I found myself restarting at a checkpoint because of an ill placed ghost and the lack of direction, I found the next attempt about as fun as snagging my balls in my zip. A once intriguing puzzle game soon turns into an infuriating battle with game rage, which is a great shame seeing that everything up to that point was fascinating and genuinely nerve wracking.
White Night starts off so strongly and through the duration of the first chapter I really thought it was going to be an absolute blinder. The unique art style that I’ve never experienced before, alongside the smooth jazz that plays throughout, formed the perfect blend of 20th century film noir and Hitchcock cinema that had me hooked from the get go. The game’s narrative is decent enough, a murder mystery told through the discovery of diaries, photos and letters had me intrigued and hungry to solve the case and get out as quickly as possible. It’s very unfortunate that all that traction dies once the ghosts are introduced and its needless difficulty to escape from them will anger players and cease all that interest they once had. The fixed camera, though great when it wants to be, does make for an annoying asset that doesn’t succeed too well in a small room with little to no lighting. White Night had potential to be great and in some ways it is, but instead of ‘putting the willies up me’ it’s more like a pair of cold ghostly fingers trying to take the piss out of me.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.