IF Resident Evil was remade in monochrome, the result wouldn’t be far off White Night. A survival horror in the purist tradition, WN delivers a narrative-driven nightmare centred on a haunted mansion filtered through the lens of a 1930s noir.
Underscored by a smoky jazz soundtrack, WN evokes a distinctive mood with its artfully sketched black and white visuals. The stark lines convey the nameless dread of the darkness more effectively than any high-def rendition ever could.
Indeed, the darkness represents your primary enemy, a foe that must be constantly pushed back by light – sometimes via electricity but chiefly through the limited resource of matches. Your character can explore the mansion only with the aid of illumination – inexplicably he dies if left in the dark too long.
But it’s best not to linger on the lack of logic – White Night pitches for a surreal immersion in a hostile world. No guns, no holy water, no crucifixes will help you here as you evade rather than confront the evil spirits roaming the mansion.
Only electric light can banish those tortured souls, setting up gentle puzzles as you leisurely piece together the story of a family matriarch gone mad. It succeeds as a slice of survival horror via some genuinely unnerving jump-scares and the constantly oppressive gloom that crowds every corner of the screen.
But players’ patience will be tested because of the insistence on old-school tropes. Witness the clumsy movement thanks to the fixed camera that sometimes swaps up for down as you transition from room to room. Or grind your teeth in frustration as a random spook instantly ends your game by roaming on top of you from off-screen.
We need games like White Night to prosper at the box office. There’s a rare intelligence at play here, despite its sometimes awkward and contrived gameplay (why can’t you hold a dagger and a match at the same time, eh?). The run time of about five hours is easily justified by its €15 price tag thanks to an intriguing storyline and distinctive graphics.