White Night PS4 Review
Developer Osome Studio have created an enigma with their latest third-person survival horror White Night. A visual spectacle in its black and white noire look, but a game riddled with frustrating AI, a bereft lack of interesting puzzles, and mediocre plot to boot. Even in its positives, White Night’s artstyle does not really suit its core of puzzle solving gameplay when the player is consistently having trouble seeing objects 2 feet in front of him.
The game opens with our main character getting into a car crash while intoxicated, and almost hitting a lady, leading to a limp he carries throughout the game that results in slow character movement, although you can speed up with the press of the X/Square button. The lady in question is the focus of the narrative as it turns into a mystery adventure into her past and what you can do to save both her and yourself. Your character can pick up diary entries and newspaper articles located around the environment to learn a lot of awesome plot tidbits regarding the few interesting characters in the game by examining them close up, which is what a vast majority of the gameplay consists of. While some puzzles were fun to solve as the game teaches you how to use light, which is the only actual mechanic in the game, to manipulate the environment and progress through the limited environments involved, mostly in a lone mansion, the novelty wears off quickly as most interactive elements coincide with you examining others as it can take several minutes to ‘point and click’ your way to the next puzzle. One of the earlier puzzles in the game has you play with the shadow of a statue to augment your surroundings with light and reveal a key needed to enter the mansion which then drivels down to turning a lamp towards specific objects as you trudge through the games 6 chapters.
As was mentioned before, light is the only mechanic the player has at their disposal and this is where the matches kick in. The game allows you to hold 12 matches at a time in order to reveal a small patch of geometry to the player. Once all 12 matches are gone without the player having re-supplied, you’re essentially stuck in the darkness, hopeless to do anything. Even with a lit match, it’s far too difficult to solve the puzzles in such a dark environment especially when some matches, through random selection, decide not to light only for one of the ghost enemies, a manifestation of the lady you almost hit, to immediately 1 hit kill you. And this is where White Night completely falls apart.
The game essentially drivels down to a “Can I get to the other side of this room to progress without the ghost immediately killing me?” The developer oddly decided to not implement a checkpoint feature, which some may hail as the game tries to go back to the roots of survival horror, but from a gameplay perspective it is just not fun when you lose 25 minutes of progress due an immediate and cheap death. This had me, and many other players conversing in online forums, decide the best way to continue was to save the game, via sitting down in a chair located in certain sections of the game, after every encounter and every pickup of an item needed to progress the story.
Now while this may all seem below average, White Night does succeed in its ability to create an atmosphere perfect for survival horror. The lighting is succinctly executed as you collect logs to start a fireplace that beautifully lights up the corner of a room or when you are being chased by a ghost and you can see your match start to flicker just before you get to safety. It is truly terrifying and is helped by an excellent musical score capped off by, once again, the lady that was almost hit who shows up periodically and lights up green while delivering beautiful songs in one of the very few cut scenes in the game a la the main character of Transistor.
Its potential is crushed by the frustrating match ups with ghost AI and its back track laden puzzles through a roughly 5 hour long campaign consisting of only a handful of environments that, through the fault of only its spectacular art style, all look identical. White Night nonetheless tells an interesting although predictable tale with neat collectibles and a superb musical score. This is not the game survival horror purists have been waiting for and not one I can recommend even with its positives. Developer Osome Studios does have the chance to clean up White Night’s fundamental design structures and make it more accessible instead of down right annoying in a potential sequel I doubt we will see come to fruition.