White Night: Review - Games Weekly

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

White Night: Review

Stylistic presentation can be an extremely effective element in creating mood and atmosphere in a video game. In White Night, that comes down to stark black and white graphics (literally… no greys here) and moody, noir-inspired camera angles. When it works, it works really well, and the initial moments spent playing White Night are already unsettling… before anything scary happens.

As a detective investigating the mysterious Vesper Mansion, it is up to the player to literally bring light to the darkness. This haunted mansion is full of dangers, and only the stark light of an electric bulb will dispel them. It’s a great idea, and the mechanic is often used to great effect. But, after playing for a while, this self-same excellent presentation and mechanic becomes the game’s greatest hindrance.

It starts to feel like you’re bumping around in the dark, smashing your shins on all kinds of furniture. And while that might be part of the point, things fall apart when the game’s main enemies come into play. They’re evil ghosts, and only electric light will get rid of them. But that means quickly navigating to a light switch, which is already a massive challenge. When the ghost takes you by surprise, you’re in for instadeath more often than not. Know that it’s there helps, but White Night is stingy with checkpoints, so prepare for a lot of repetition.

The situation is made worse by fixed camera angles that hide useful information as often as they reveal it.

The artistry behind the game is undeniable, and it is a good idea. But its translation into game format missed the mark, turning what could have been a compelling, terrifying tale into something that is more annoying than it can afford to be.


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