We got to discover the dark secrets hidden in White City and we are ready to have our say on White Shadows in this review
In this review we will describe the experience lived with White Shadows, a highly atmospheric cinematic platformer developed by the German studio Monokel, making it their debut game on the gaming market. The title is available on PC (Steam), Xbox Series S / X and PS5 since December 7, 2021, presenting itself as a dark, disturbing experience, with the aim of plunging us into a world without light, plunged into darkness. The title is inspired by famous games such as LIMBO e INSIDE, ready to mark the hearts of the players but above all the minds, having to interpret and reflect what we will encounter and what the game wants to convey in an indirect way.
A silent world in black and white
We will start this review by talking about the history di White Shadows, one of the most important aspects of this work, given the focus of the developers in wanting to convey a strong message to the players. With the disappearance of natural light for unknown reasons, our protagonist Ravengirl, a humanoid with the appearance of a crow, will have to face a metropolis shrouded in darkness by name White City, full of dangers and dark realities unknown to the anthropomorphic inhabitants. Only artificial light can illuminate this ruined world, generated thanks to the workforce present in the battery factories. The girl is alone, without a real well-defined goal, desperately tries to survive in a world dominated by fearsome wolves and rats, ready to subdue it.
We can affirm that White Shadows is not a light work, being immediately warned that it presents strong themes including: racism, violence, slavery, suicide and xenophobia. These issues are told very well thanks to one environmental storytelling, without any explanatory dialogue, in order to interpret the dystopian world of White City with our own eyes. The adventure will be full of events shown in the background without any conversation, resulting in a purely visual experience where it is needed pay attention to the smallest detail. The tacit one is the master, remembering the silent black and white films of the twenties in which the characters that populate White City show the functioning of this sick society only through their actions.
Not only does the game world tell how life works in this system, but also the puzzles, although not many, they are cleverly designed that show new details about how society works. We will encounter several propaganda messages about the equality between the various races of animals, immediately after understanding the illusion of certain statements that hide a very rigid system of social classes, based on a violent ideology. Not going into too much detail, the game clearly wants to convey one social critique of a surreal dystopian world, with several similarities to our sad reality today.
Thankfully, the developers have added gods as well moments of irony to break the tension, finding ourselves in scenes such as circus shows or comedy TV series. In addition, the whole is topped off with the use of cinematic watermark, making the protagonist feel not involved in his own life, but rather feeling like a puppet present in a work of television fiction. During our adventure we will come bombarded with apparently cheerful commercials, with symbols and singular elements, increasing doubts about what is real or fictional. In conclusion we can define the story of White Shadows as a sometimes allegorical story, managing to lighten and balance the strong negativity transmitted, mixing it with theatrical irony.
Keep jumping, don’t stop – White Shadows review
White Shadows presenta un very simplified gameplay, mainly used as an intermediary to follow the events of the story. Thanks to a mix of 2D platformer elements and immediate environmental puzzles, the title flows pleasantly without too many hitches, highlighting the events that happen in White City. This choice to make the gameplay simple and smooth works for the type of game, but compared to titles like LIMBO and INSIDE, it is fin too simplified, making it almost a walking simulator at times with a decidedly low level of challenge. A greater focus on puzzles, increasing them and making them more elaborate, would have helped to make the gameplay more varied and with a greater challenge, giving a more engaging experience on the playful side.
Our protagonist will have very few ways to escape the pitfalls of the metropolis, very often escape will be the best choice, since she will mainly be able to jump, duck and interact with boxes and levers to solve some riddle. Also with regard to the time, the game is not able to excel, although considering the nature of the title it is normal that it does not last many hours.
Comparing it to games of the same kind, scarce two hours to complete it does not appear in line, leaving you with a certain bitterness in your mouth. By completing the work you will still have a nice memory of the trip experienced in White City, remembering more the emotional impact transmitted rather than videogame entertainment, triggering a desire to lose yourself further in that dark and fascinating world.
The Path to the Promised Light – White Shadows Review
Continuing the White Shadows review, the artistic direction is one of the most successful aspects of the title, giving you some suggestive glimpses that you will not easily forget. White City is beautiful, albeit disturbing, it has a charm of its own thanks to the excellent use of the black and white, accompanied by various shades of gray that add depth and detail to all elements of the scenarios. The city is cold, metallic, full of imposing machinery, you can breathe un’atmosfera steampunk everywhere with skeletal buildings perfectly in line with the tone of the title. The excellent shots in continuous movement manage to bring out even the smallest detail in the distance, making everything extremely immersive.
Light is one of the key elements of the work, both as regards the story but also for the settings, in fact many white neon elements will contrast with the greyness that surrounds us, giving greater focus to signs, propaganda messages and relevant elements useful for the plot. It is no coincidence that the title is called White Shadows, where the contrast between black and white plays a fundamental role in creating the gloomy setting of the title.
Continuing the adventure we will enter more and more towards the core of this twisted society, with a continuous change of settings very similar artistically. At first glance they can be repetitive, but they manage to diversify from each other thanks to the continuous change of increasingly shocking scenarios. While everything is black and white, we will never have a feeling of already seen or in any case repetitive and uninspired. The developers have managed to give depth to a sometimes limited artistic style, showing a remarkable skill in this respect considering it is their first project made.
A bright charm that sucks you in – White Shadows review
The column are by White Shadows gives emotions to each track, we will pass by sdisturbing ambient sounds of metallic noises up to the use of classical music, in perfect harmony with the game world. One of the most memorable moments was hearing the Strauss Blue Danube go in rhythm with the movements of some factory plants, giving a sublime emphasis as we visit them. The musical accompaniment is perfectly mixed with the artistic direction, giving different sensations according to the scenarios between restlessness, strong tension and claustrophobia.
Technically the title has ups and downs, probably due to the small size of the development team. Nothing to worry about compromising the final result of the game, but if you pay attention to some details such as i character models or animations are not clean. It has happened to see polygonal models, for example of mice, not very refined, with smudges and unrealistic interpenetrations.
Even some animations, always stage characters appear every now and then snapped, as if some frames were missing. Overall, these flaws have not ruined the gaming experience but they are aspects to be taken into account since they are easily noticeable. The finishing of a work is a crucial step for short but intense experiences like this one.
In conclusion, the end of the journey
Our White Shadows review ends here and it’s time to take stock. You will hardly have the opportunity to experience such a thing given by this title, albeit very short, it manages to give suggestive settings and deals with very difficult themes in an effective way. The multiple messages at the end of the adventure are clear and emotionally manage to touch the player’s heart, while not being too direct, leaving space for free interpretation.
While not at the levels of LIMBO and INSIDE, especially as regards the gameplay and technical side, White Shadows is a title absolutely to be recovered for lovers of the dark and those who want to reflect on delicate issues, often difficult to deal with in the media for fear of moving something too big. In a contemporary world full of darkened wounds, White Shadows uses light to uncover certain burdens of our society, but we are sure that is light the solution to everything ..?
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