White Night (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 22.03.2015 2

Review for White Night on PlayStation 4

The first thing people think of when they hear “Activision” is usually Call of Duty; the last thing people usually expect is an indie survival horror. It’s pretty surprising that Activsion, of all publishers, chose to release OSome Studio’s White Night - the “Narrative Puzzle & Survival Horror” title. White Night is a game that proudly boasts its survival horror roots and emphasis on story with its stylish black and white visuals, but does it succeed? Cubed3 investigates White Night in this review.

The immediately noticeable aspect to anyone about White Night is its visuals. OSome Studios aimed to depict the 1930s when jazz was all the rage, people were allowed to smoke openly, the dames were sultry and the men were men. A stark black and white scheme was chosen to keep in the tone of the era and to emphasise the noire theme of darkness. OSome Studio’s execution of the black and white lighting is very hit or miss to say the least, but more so miss - especially since the art style chosen has a negative impact on the gameplay.

Screenshot for White Night on PlayStation 4

White Night might look cool at first, but it can be so wildly inconsistent with how finicky it reacts to the 3D geometry. The main character, who kind of looks like a more frumpy version of Ian Holme, lacks details on his face, so when the light parts of his visage are lit up, there is almost no information being showed. The whole game is like this, actually, and it happens when there is darkness, too. Too often are the visuals completely abstracted and obscured during scenes; being able to discern the action on screen becomes impossible. How this affects the gameplay is even more insidious because the design of the main character is very plain and kind of boring - it becomes very difficult to distinguish his front from his back due to how the graphics lack detail because White Night is heavily relying on 3D models being interpreted as flat graphic shapes.

When White Night has players moving the main character, things get even more tricky. OSome Studio arrogantly chose to not have multiple control options in White Night - a game that proudly boasts how it sticks to its survival horror forefathers, yet does not have an option for tank-control movement. In a game where camera angles are fixed in set locations to set mood and atmosphere, or to just guide the player in a direction, having an option for tank-control movement is very beneficial since it is a scheme that can maintain a single direction without disorienting players. White Night is very disorienting because the relative movement controls can cause players to get stuck between camera changes and in a game like this, where the ghostly enemies kill in one hit, expect a lot of cheap deaths. Even the default control setting is just so-so because of how slow the main character moves, and his fairly awkward animation that is supposed to be a result of a leg injury (that never recovers) makes him look like he is in a drunken daze most of the time.

Screenshot for White Night on PlayStation 4

Of course, things get unintentionally comedic when the player character “dies” or gets killed by a ghost; he just goes into a very goofy looking fit that makes him look like a toddler having a tantrum. For a game that is so proud of how old school it is about its approach to survival horror, one would think the option for tank-controls would have been available. It should be mentioned that the ghosts in White Night are pretty creepy and the game does have a pretty foreboding soundtrack. Especially when the player runs out of matches and is caught in the dark, there is a very haunting piano riff that creeps in, getting louder.

The core game of White Night is fairly decent and actually has some thought put into it. The dark in this game kills very slowly, so players have to rely on light to stay alive. To navigate the mansion, players will rely on matches, which can burnout and have a finite supply of in the game. Some of the more old school game design philosophies of survival horror have been preserved and executed well, such as the armchair that saves progress. The save system in White Night is handled well enough, though the game does have a few rare moments of checkpoints - players should frequently save as often as they can since this game does have cheap deaths. Old school survival horror puzzles are also deftly done in White Night and have a very clever use of the black and white art style. Since the game relies so much on its lighting, players will often have to use it to make certain things appear. It actually is pretty clever in some instances and why OSome Studio chose black and white as their style makes sense.

Screenshot for White Night on PlayStation 4

The story of White Night is nothing special or interesting. Too much of the information is in very wordy flavour text, diaries, letters, or newspaper articles found throughout the course of the game. The most effective and meaningful information was what was pieced together by the visuals - specifically the environment. The mansion the game does take place in actually does a fair job of giving the player story info just by itself. Areas are littered with all kinds of objects and nick-knacks that suggest the type of characters that resided in the game’s core setting. Even the design of the ghosts gives enough information to the player of what they are dealing with and what has happened.

The story of the game plays out fairly predictable and isn’t really all that engaging, but it is a journey that does manage to generate some tension and minor panic in the player, but eventually gets completely offset by moments of unintentional comedy. White Night is also a very short game ranging about 5-6 hours long, making its $14.99 price point seem fairly steep.

Screenshot for White Night on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Activision saw something in OSome Studio’s White Night, and what that quality was is not quite understood since this title is pretty ho-hum. There are a few fleeting moments of ingenuity in White Night, and it does make an effort to emulate survival horror of old, like Alone in the Dark, and sometimes it works. Lack of control options and questionable direction in the visuals, compounded by the uninteresting story and low replayability, hold back White Night from being a recommendation. Only those who truly crave an old school survival horror might get some enjoyment from this title. Other than that, White Night is mostly forgettable.

Developer

OSome Studio

Publisher

Activision

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I was waiting for your review, while my cursor was hovering over the "Add to Cart" button. Not any more...

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

Yeah- I was really let down by this one.
i probably wouldn't feel so burned if it was 10 bucks.

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