Title: White Shadows
Release Date: December 7, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Thunderful Games
Thunderful games is quickly becoming one of my favorite publishers for indie titles. They have a knack for putting together unique experiences for gamers, and they don’t seem to be slowing down. Their newest published title, White Shadows, continues this trend of memorable gameplay experiences for those looking for something different.
White Shadows is a cinematic, side-scrolling puzzle platformer. The game instantly shares some Limbo and Inside vibes in its opening moments. This initially concerned me, as those two games are legends of the monochromatic moody genre. “Here we go,” I thought to myself, “I already know where this is going.” However, after getting a little further, I noticed how wrong I was.
Set in a dreary, noir, black-and-white, post-apocalyptic city created of metal structures and rickety wooden platforms. Players assume the role of a young Raven girl who must traverse this treacherous city and discover her destiny. There is no opening story or dialogue to tell you the history of the Raven girl, but the game slowly unravels its narrative through gameplay.
Disturbing propaganda found in advertisements spread throughout levels provides hints of the state of the world. The ominous darkness of the design sets the tone for her adventure. One of my favorite aspects is the beautiful transitions to illustrate new chapters of this playable dystopian novel.
Gameplay is typical of the genre. You hop and climb your way to the tops of the city as you narrowly avoid oncoming trains, moving platforms, and traps leading to death. You traverse on ladders, climb on chains and slide your way to the depths of this Matrix-inspired cityscape.
Raven girl’s character is fluid and fun to control, seamlessly moving from one area to another, although my one concern was jumping off ladders. It could have been user error, but I often found myself missing simple jumps and, quite frankly, having an awful time with the ladders. This minor issue did slow down the pace, but I pressed on.
Puzzles are utilized appropriately to vary gameplay and were surprisingly unique. For example, rail sections where you had to ride a tram or interact with batteries led to intense platforming sequences that were very entertaining. There were even mini-games where you had to avoid moving obstacles or skillful dodge mechanized appendages.
The game’s length is considerably short and other than achievements, there is very little replay value. However, neither of these detracts from the overall game. In fact, the only important thing you need to worry about is the story. The beginning has a disclaimer involving racism, violence against women and children, and xenophobia. I’m not going to sugarcoat it; this game is dark, at times downright depressing. Several scenes made me question my logic and even that of the developer’s.
I wish I could tell you the best parts. I wish I could tell you the entire story. Unfortunately, I can’t. You simply have to play it to see it for yourself. White Shadows is a parable, an open-ended narrative in which the player writes their own story and comes to their own conclusions.
White Shadows doesn’t miss a beat and has players uncover its dark narrative through clever platforming and light puzzles. There are moments where the pacing slows down, but the nightmare of this adventure is expertly delivered without heavy dialogue. By the end, developer Monokel had me questioning what the hell I had just experienced, but I engaged during every moment.
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