White Night, the debut title from OSome Studio, is a bit of an oddball. A monochromatic neo-noir horror adventure, the game is certainly more than capable of standing out from the crowd. Sadly, while it gets a heck of a lot of things right, it also has some issues that let it down.
The title's colour palette is almost exclusively black and white, though it does throw in a little orange for flames as well. This creates some extremely unique and interesting environments, which are mostly set within a rundown mansion. Your character – a fedora toting, trench coat wearing man with a fondness for matches – happens upon this house after crashing his car right outside its front door. Unfortunately, you won't be finding much in the way of help here.
The game definitely conveys a sense of mystery at first, but this doesn't hold up throughout the entirety of the escapade, as the narrative races to a conclusion. Fortunately, this is well delivered, and does ultimately end up feeling satisfying.
Of course, the mansion of the Venter family doesn't just house darkness and secrets – it also hosts ghosts. These ghastly creatures slowly float through the darkness, and the only way to kill them is by using electrical lights. This system actually works rather well, and using bright beams to eliminate multiple phantoms does lead to some fun puzzles.
However, you will have other light sources at your disposal. The aforementioned matches can be used as a means to light your way, but you're limited to just twelve of these at a time – and sometimes they won't work. As in real life, there's no real rhyme or reason as to when a match will snap, and, while it's a good idea, this does lead to some seemingly unfair deaths. This is exacerbated when you strike two or three consecutive matches; seeing as you can only carry twelve, it's possible to squander a quarter of your allotment in one go.
This perhaps wouldn't be so bad if the dark wasn't so dangerous, but spend a significant length of time in the gloom and you'll reach a fail state. It's also worth mentioning that the matches don't kill ghosts – in fact, they simply act to agitate the spirits. Obviously, this makes the title particularly challenging, and when you factor in some iffy enemy positioning, it does border on cheap at points. The line between tension and frustration is a fine one, and this falls on the wrong side a bit too often.
Luckily, the enemies don't interfere too much with exploration. Yes, they are out and about, but it's possible to ignore them for the most part while you're scouring for collectibles. And you will find plenty – arguably too many. Most, if not all of these, help to enhance the story, but with over 150 available in a five hour game – well, it just feels like too much. And while finding them is, undeniably, very satisfying, the monochromatic colour scheme means that they blend into the environments all too often. To be honest, we picked up a lot of them accidentally.
It's not all doom and gloom, however, because in spite of the above issues, survival horror fans will find this worth playing. The voice acting and animations are fantastic, as is the exceptional score, which this author is hoping will be made available on its own. The environments themselves look fantastic, too; they may have appeared ordinary with a standard colour scheme, but the black and white look adds something extra to the presentation.
Also worthy of compliment is the camera work, which riskily adopts fixed perspectives. This can be chaotic, but the developer has done a great job of making the transitions feel natural, without upsetting the controls. It's also worth mentioning the various nods to classic noir films dotted around the release, which enables the familiar to mingle with the new – good stuff.
White Night does a lot right, delivering a great story which only dips slightly in the run up to its conclusion. The art style is fantastic, and while it hurts other things – like the visibility of the title's many collectibles – the trade-off is honestly worth it. Unfortunately, the release's biggest issues sit in the gameplay department, as it's exceedingly frustrating on far too many occasions. The end result is interesting, then, and worth experiencing – but perhaps not recommended for everyone.