Review: White Night
It’s 1930’s Boston and an unsuspecting man is about to have a run in with something that’s no longer among the living. White Night will immediately grab you with its film noir aesthetic, the opening song that plays as your character drives along an empty road late at night, and of course his own inner monologue. No time is wasted in setting up a very dark and moody atmosphere that fits into the film noir and survival horror genres very well. Not far into the drive a mysterious ghost-like woman runs into the street causing our character to run his car off the road. Limping away from the accident, unsure if the woman was real or not, he finds himself in front of a mansion and sets out for help.
Of course the mansion is abandoned and any attempts to call for help are quickly abandoned when it’s clear the phone line isn’t going to work. From there you’ll explore the house, solve puzzles, and escape from the clutches of very dangerous ghosts as you attempt to uncover the greater mystery of the mansion and its family. The electric in the house isn’t reliable and the film noir aesthetic helps to ensure that it’s incredibly difficult to see anything without some form of light. Luckily there are matches conveniently placed around the house to ensure that you’ll have some form of light source. You can carry up to 12 matches at a time, matches typically don’t last very long (probably under a minute if I had to guess), they can be used to light candles or burn objects, and for the most part there’s a plentiful supply of them around the house. Using these matches to guide you you’ll be able to find switch boxes to reroute the electric, keys to open doors, and provide light to rooms that will ultimately enable you to solve certain puzzles. There’s some instances of backtracking, but for the most part puzzles are contained to the room that they’re in.
Light can also be used to inspect and read any number of things left around the house. There are pictures of the family to look at, newspaper clippings, journal entries, letters, and books to read that expand upon the back story of the family and sheds some light on what was happening around that time in America. I don’t particularly mind using collectibles to expand upon your story, but White Night has close to 100 different collectibles. It almost feels like there’s too much. For instance there were times when I found three completely different journals/newspapers all within a few feet of each other. Everytime I entered a new room I felt like I needed to thoroughly comb through the area to ensure I didn’t miss anything which typically resulted in me using up a lot of matches in the process. I like this type of collectible, but less would have been better.
No ghost story is complete without ghosts and you’ll find yourself coming into contact with a lot of them throughout the night. Ghosts typically patrol a specific area and will only start chasing you if you get too close. They aren’t affected by your matches, but will completely vanish if you shine light formed through electricity on them. If the ghost catches you it is game over and you’ll be forced to start from the most recent save. If you find yourself in the dark for too long a ghost will end up finding you which will also cause a game over. Luckily restarting from your most recent save will not erase any of the collectibles that you found which makes the time lost from deaths minimal.
As long as you’re aware of where a ghost is it’s not too difficult to keep a safe distance away. There are a few areas where I had a ghost randomly pop up in front of me and some of the later areas proved to be a little annoying. (Mainly due to those sections resulting on a little trial and error.) There’s also an issue with matches where some of them will be a dud for no apparent reason. I’ve had times where two consecutive matches instantly burnt out which is pretty frustrating. Depending on the area you’re in matches are either in very small supply or there’s like 80 in the other room. So it’s really annoying when you’re at the end of the game, no extra matches in the area, and you’re getting a lot of duds.
These annoyances are disappointing, but they also only come up in a few instances throughout. Overall the game does a really good job of creating a tense atmosphere without needing to rely on jump scares. For that matter, with one exception, there are no jump/cheap scares of any kind throughout the game. Instead White Night relies on fixed camera angles and the contrast between light and dark to build tension. All of this is done really well and with a few minor exceptions White Night succeeds in building a really great survival horror experience.
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What I Like:
- Film noir aesthetic and writing style
- Great tension
- Ghosts genuinely look creepy
- Interesting story
- Cool puzzles
What I Dislike:
- Matches sometimes instantly going out
- A few frustrating ghost encounters
- Overwhelming amount of collectibles