In the noir world of White Shadows, you get to transverse different places as Ravengirl in an allegorical journey to escape a dystopian city. It’s not just a game but a modern take on commentary about race, social classes, and inequality.
The game is not for everyone as it started with a content warning of racism, xenophobia, and more. I immediately thought, “this is not an ordinary indie game”, and I was right. The narrative of the story is where White Shadows shined the most. It’s one of those games that will either leave you scratching your head with its fable or question your morality as a human being. No voice acting or direct narration was done but it gave a solid story with a very nice messaging at the end. The first moments of the game will make you confused as there is little to no context as to what the game is about but as you go along through the journey, you will be able to get subtle hints as to how grim this world came to be. It’s clear that a huge portion of the game was inspired by 1950’s visuals combined with the use of steampunk imagery.
Spanning over five aesthetically pleasing chapters, the game joins the growing family of independently developed 2D platformer puzzle games. The character, Ravengirl was easy to navigate as the controls are simple yet provided a familiar experience as other platformer games. You will need to properly time jumps on platforms, push blocks along the way, and avoid enemies as you explore the black-and-white world of White Shadows. There are numerous challenging puzzles as you go along the chapters of the game, and the fun will be cut short as there is subtle gore inserted in the game. At first, the monochrome design of the game adds a level of difficulty as there are some areas which is literally too dark to explore, an indication where game design is smoothly synchronized with the mechanics. This eerily alluring game is a proof that color is not necessary to provide a good narrative and stunning visuals.
The game was beautifully crafted in design, however on the technical side there are major framerate drops that I experienced while playing the game. Please take note that I’m running the latest version of the game on the PS5 and I think that future adopters of the game will appreciate fixes. The scenario is quite linear unfortunately and there are only limited areas to explore during the game. The game was short and you will be able to finish it within 3 hours although the level design of each chapters were intricately thought of. Being short in length was not a disadvantage as the game was able to deliver the messaging at the end of the game whilst giving the player quite of a challenge with its intricately placed puzzles. There is very little replay value for this game as it provided a complete experience, but you might find yourself going back to checkpoints as there are numerous hidden trophies for the PlayStation version of the game.
There are fast-paced areas in the game and it blended well with some dull and slow situations. One minute you will find yourself in an adrenaline rush trying to jump from one train to another, and another one trying to pull boxes for an in-game puzzle. The background music is enjoyable on this one as the developers handpicked some great classical pieces from Mozart, Strauss, and Wagner and it provided some light in this dark and grim world. The music was perfectly timed with some adrenaline pumping levels of the game as well as those memorable and emotional moments as well.
Cinematic puzzle games have spiked throughout the years with titles like Limbo and Inside, and White Shadows is no outsider in this category. I was able to enjoy the haunting levels of this game and I would love to see what Monokel has to offer in the future in this genre as they did a good work in seamlessly tying the narrative and the design. It’s a dazzling lightshow that is appealing on the visuals but is also heavy on the morals.