Survival horror and old mansions pretty much go hand in hand, and that is no more true than in OSome Studio’s latest take on the heart skipping genre. After surviving a car crash, our main protagonist goes looking for help in a nearby mansion. What seems like a good initial idea quickly turns into one of nightmares, both for the driver and indeed the real-world counterpart putting him through his paces. That’ll be me and you then!
I won’t beat around the bush. Whilst White Night is a cleverly crafted title, it is one that suffers horrendously from terrible controls, terrible camera angles and the most frustrating of save points. Three things that make the few puzzling positives it holds fade away into the darkness very quickly.
At first glance, it could be pretty special. Walking at the most sedate of paces, you’ll find yourself craving light at every opportunity. But that light is in scarce supply and you’ll have to make do with the odd side lamp, roaring log fire or, in the majority of instances, the flicker of a lighted match to help you navigate your way through the dark, dank, horror filled house in front of you as you attempt to uncover the story in White Night. Without light, you are nothing more than a sitting duck for the horrors that populate the house to feed on. The dark is all consuming and even ten seconds without a light source nearby or in your hand will see you sucumbing to the evils of the night.
Throughout your searching of the areas in front of you, you’ll find many collectable notes, journals, newspaper cuttings and additions to the backstory but yet again, without the accompaniment of light, you’ll struggle to find anything worthwhile. In fact, even with light much of what you get prompted to check on will seem pretty worthless. Whilst a few of those pickups that you do grab will be of use to you, helping you solve the puzzles immediately ahead, the vast majority seem like they’ve been placed for no reason other than to create a little atmosphere, fill the space and waste a bit of time. Something which is made worse still when you think you’ve found something new, only to discover it’s an old note that you’ve already read five times in the last ten minutes.
And much of that is down to the crude camera system that haunts White Night. Constant flicking between camera angles does little other than to confuse and even if you think you know where you’re going, a quick switch in cam will often see your character walking back from where he just came from. I’ve given up counting the amount of times I’ve walked through a door to a new room, only to be greeted with a 180 degree switch in view and controls, quickly seeing me move back through the same door once again. It’s highly frustrating and at times bad enough to make me feel the need to switch off and leave White Night alone for good.
This gets even more apparent when trying to evade the ghostly apparitions which haunt the halls of the mansion. Moving at anything more than the standard slow plod, and combining it with the awkward controls and views are just about the most unbearable of things I’ve seen in a videogame for a very long time. And let me tell you this, you really won’t want to be caught by these ghosts because you’ll have no way of fighting back or fending them off; once you’re caught, you’re done for and you’ll be whisked back to the last save point.
In a normal world, the lack of fightback wouldn’t bother me, but when that last save could have been hours away, something needs to give. Okay, maybe not quite hours, but when you’ve gone over all the pickups numerous times, had to cope with walking through the same door time and time again and then got grabbed by a ghost and taken to the dark side, the save points feel like the most rarest of items. With the need for plenty of light (a lit match won’t suffice), a quick rest in a leather bound armchair signals your checkpoint, but unless you positively go out of your way in order to save, putting up with the confusion the route to your seat brings, you’ll become super annoyed with the instant deaths that frequent White Night.
If however you do manage to battle through the monotony, then White Night contains some pretty decent puzzles; nothing that is too taxing and most that consist of random trial and error, but nice puzzles they are. Just a shame the rest of the game makes solving them such a damn chore.
White Night may be visually stunning and the black and white art style is certainly top quality, but the sheer amount of annoyance that comes from the camera angles and the constant going over of things multiple times just makes it something that cannot be recommended.
A videogame, even one from the survival horror genre, should at the very least bring entertainment.
White Night doesn’t. Unless you’re a real horror champion.