White Night

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
White Night Game Poster Image
Sinister survival-horror game with frustrating controls.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

No positive messages anywhere.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main character a typical noir hero: cynical, grim, caustic. Can't be called a role model by any stretch of the imagination.

Ease of Play

Movement, interaction by keyboard should be easy, but poor camera angles, sudden perspective changes make controlling main character difficult if not downright frustrating.

Violence

Violence at the core of the story, but mainly aftermath of violence that's seen in photos, described in journals, or evidenced by bloodstains, dead bodies. A character is shown with a knife in her body.

Sex

Some of the story concerns a sexual predator. His crimes are shown in news blurbs; the main character encounters some of the killer's photos of semi-dressed women.

Language

"Damn" is the strongest language used.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to smoking cigarettes and drinking, but main character never seen doing either.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that White Night is a downloadable survival horror game containing frightening images and adult themes. Most of it is played in utter darkness, and the dark is full of monstrous, deadly ghosts that can kill the player character. There are frequent disturbing photographs and journal descriptions of madness and abuse, as well as bloodstains and dead bodies; the impact is lessened because of the black-and-white imagery throughout the game. Though there are references to smoking and drinking, the main character is never seen partaking in either activity, and the harshest language used through the game is the word "damn." Some of the game content revolves around a sexual predator and his photos of semi-nude women. Gameplay is relatively straightforward, but perspective shifts and camera angles can increase frustration during the adventure.

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What's it about?

WHITE NIGHT is set in the 1930s and is about a man who finds himself trapped inside a haunted house after being injured in a car accident. The player is tasked with helping the man uncover the house's dark history, which is both figurative and literal. The hero has to explore and solve many puzzles using light, which also helps him avoid the dangerous monsters that live and infest the shadows of this mysterious home. Using film noir themes and concepts, White Night puts a new twist on the survival horror and adventure game concept.

Is it any good?

White Night's main strength is its stylishness. It hits you in the face right away, during its slick Hitchcockian introduction, where a nameless, fedora-wearing man crashes his car on a dark, deserted road and seriously injures himself. He limps down the road and seeks help from the nearest refuge: a spooky Victorian house. This unique brand of noir cool holds firm until the credits roll, and the level of graphic sophistication creates the expectation of narrative and mechanical excellence; tension is heightened by the high-contrast graphics that not only unsettle you but clue you in to the story's moral ambiguity. Cleverly placed newspaper articles, photos, diaries, and letters reveal the narrative one piece at a time, all determined by each player's willingness to explore. All these things, and the occasional dream sequence, make for what should be a singular survival-horror experience.

"Should" is the operative word, since White Night's excellence is almost utterly torpedoed by clumsy controls and poor camera angles. You'll have to use the weak, flickering light of a single match to navigate the world, while also avoiding the clutches of murderous ghosts that reside in the darkness. Most of the time, it's possible to avoid them, but when the camera angles change suddenly, the directional keys can work differently, propelling you right into the ghastly hands of death. This is especially true in cluttered rooms where clean navigation is a necessity. It also suffers from occasionally awkward writing (“the grave looked as daunting as a forgotten tomb" -- well ... yeah) and poor English translation. At times too, the story becomes a bit muddled, and many gamers will spot the big plot twist from a mile away. All this keeps White Night from being an ideal survival-horror game.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in games such as White Night. Is the violence in this game tolerable because it's all monochromatic?

  • Think about why darkness is scary. Does being in the dark scare you? If so, why?

  • Discuss the supernatural. Do you believe in ghosts? If so, do you think ghosts have the power to affect our world?

  • Talk about mental illness. How have attitudes about mental illness changed since the 1930s?

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