Being scared to death, jumping at any tiny sound, feeling the hairs on your arms stand up, and seeing something nasty lurking in the shadows. These are the familiar feelings you might have when experiencing any kind of horror – whether it’s watching the latest scary movie, reading a horrific book or, like me, going out to buy a pint of milk from the local petrol station. And that fear factor gets multiplied even further when there are a few friends sharing the experience… except maybe when my mates and I go to the petrol station together.
In the latest game to bring us survival horror, White Noise 2, that’s exactly what the experience does best – playing the nightmare out whilst your online friends are beside you. Hold on… WHAT’S THAT BEHIND YOU???
I’ve a scary story to tell you young folks. Are you sitting comfortably? Have you locked all the doors? Nailed down the windows? In this story you either play as a paranormal investigator, who, with the help of a bunch of other Scooby Doo’s, run around spooky locations, armed only with some flashlights. You are looking for clues to an investigation into an evil presence that is rising up and threatening to destroy the world. These clues are spread all over a multitude of large maps and take the form of videotapes, special magical runes or audio recordings. You have a compass that tells you where the next clue is, but that can only be used once every minute or so. The levels are viewed in semi-darkness, so you must try and stick together, use your flashlight and shout if one of you gets lost. When you’ve collected all of the clues you get to try and shut down an evil portal to stop the world being destroyed. Seems easy, yes?
No. The problem this bunch of pesky kids have is that there is a monster on the loose. You can also play as this monster, stalking the bunch of intrepid investigators. You’re drawn to them if they shout, or keep their flashlights on indefinitely. The monster also has an arsenal of tricks up its ghoulish sleeves. For example, you can suddenly switch off all the investigators flashlights for a short time, teleport near them, use idols to drive them mad or disorientate them if they get near. When you capture one of the gang, it’s up to the others to shine their torches at the creature to send it back into the darkness before you manage to kill them outright. There are other defensive items for the group to pick up too, like flashbangs, incense (that helps you see the creature in the darkness) and more, all of which will help you in your survival in the dark.
When the monster manages to grab and try to kill an investigator, the others have a short window to shine their flashlights at it in order to banish it to the ether. The longer the monster grabs an investigator, the shorter that window of escape gets, before the creature devours the poor torch-wielding individual.
But wait, there’s more.
If you’re an investigator, then you get to come back as a ghost if you are killed. Then you can venture around the map, helping the others get to the clues as quickly as possible. You can’t see the monster, but you can destroy mystic idols that he/she/it leaves around the area, stopping your mates from going insane. But when the monster gets all the investigators, the game is over and the creature wins.
There are a number of maps to choose from, around eight at the moment, and a whole host of characters and monsters to unlock and select. Each one of these different characters and monsters has a range of attributes, skill levels and abilities to choose from. After the game ends, there is a neat little trick that shows the map you’ve just played and the journey you took, either as the monster or investigator, over the course of that game. It’s amazing to see how lost you can get.
White Noise 2 should however be marked in two ways. You see, playing with online friends is brilliant fun – full stop. It’s great to be able to talk to each other over party chat and guide friends across the map. The friend-playing monster can then whisper false hopes and fears into your ears. The whole experience is exhilarating and scary, whilst still remaining a lot of fun. But that said, playing solo or with a group of randoms can be a very different playing experience. If you’re not communicating with others, then the game loses its fear factor and its most enjoyable elements because investigators just roam away in different directions. Being the monster works the best as a solo player, because you don’t need to work as a team.
The game looks really good for something of this type, with certain map designs fairing much better than others. I’m looking at you ‘generic ruins’, but I’m loving the old abandoned school. The characters are designed brilliantly, in a way that completely embraces the fun and the kitsch of the whole experience. The soundtrack is scary and dramatic, with some lovely effects like water dripping or creaking doors to spook the hell out of you.
Overall I had a blast for the first few hours of my time with White Noise 2 as that was when I was playing with a group of online friends. Playing solo though has seen my interest begin to wane… and quite quickly too. I hope further maps and characters will be introduced over time as this will keep things fresh.
Basically put though, if you’ve got a group of friends playing White Noise 2, then you can easily add another half star to this review.