White Shadows gives a pretty stark warning as you begin playing of the sensitive content you can expect to experience, with the game certainly one that doesn’t hold back when it comes to touchy subjects. It might be something that would put some off playing, but I’d implore them not to ignore the game – whilst it certainly explores dark and unsettling themes, the adventure it offers is still an enjoyable one.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Taking place in a desolate monochromatic world where light doesn’t represent hope but instead emphasises the superiority of the higher classes, White Shadows puts players in the role of Ravengirl – a young bird who looks to escape her pig oppressors and leave the city behind. That might sound pretty bizarre to read, but yep, the game represents its different classes through the use of animals, with wolves considered superior, pigs their underlings, and birds the lowest-of-low. It’s up to you to survive through the totalitarian state and try to reach a place of safety.
There’s a lot of environmental storytelling to be found across the game, with disturbing sights aplenty as you scour your way through each locale. White Shadows isn’t narrative-heavy when it comes to player interactions, but it’s easy to work out that this is an oppressive world where you’re never quite safe. Add to that some of those earlier unsettling themes I mentioned, and it’ll quickly become clear that this is a very dark game where player interpretation often leads the tale. It makes Ravengirl’s journey all the more intriguing though, and whilst it may not tell a story of hope, it’s hard not to find yourself completely invested until the end.
“There’s a real sense of precision required to get through some of the more trickier platforming segments of the game, whilst the variety of the tasks you have to complete ensures that you’ll always feel like you’re doing something a bit different.”
It reminded me a lot of INSIDE from the team at Playdead, with it clear that the developers of White Shadows certainly took a few inspirations from the title. It’s the same with the gameplay, with the player leading Ravengirl across an array of environments where she’ll need to run, jump, and solve the occasional puzzle to survive. There’s a real sense of precision required to get through some of the more trickier platforming segments of the game, whilst the variety of the tasks you have to complete ensures that you’ll always feel like you’re doing something a bit different. It might lack originality, but you’ll certainly never get bored when playing.
Besides a few high-octane moments where the pressure is on to react quickly, it isn’t an especially difficult game. Even the puzzles are pretty straightforward, with most solved quite quickly with a bit of quick thinking (and maybe a little tinkering here and there). That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have fun though, with the gameplay doing more than enough to keep me entertained. It is worth nothing that the platforming could be a little finicky in places when it came to landing with perfect accuracy though, whilst the somewhat floaty jumping controls will take some getting used to in the first ten minutes or so of playing.
“There’s an unsettling feeling of wonder to the world you’re exploring, but it’s in an imposing sense where you’ll never feel that you’re ever safe.”
One of the most impressive aspects of White Shadows is its visuals, with its black-and-white world packed with disturbing sights that’ll keep you on edge as you play. There’s an unsettling feeling of wonder to the world you’re exploring, but it’s in an imposing sense where you’ll never feel that you’re ever safe. It’s no surprise really, especially when you encounter some of the factory-like settings (you’ll know what I mean if you play the game), with the more high-end locales of the game certainly not the place for a lowly bird like you. Add to that an impressive sense of scale that’ll really make you feel like you’re small fry in this huge world, and it becomes hard not to be left in awe by the visuals and the sense of deceptive wonder that they bring.
It’s worth mentioning that White Shadows isn’t a long game, with it easily beatable in around three hours (and even less if you rush a little). There’s not a whole lot on offer to keep you coming back for more either, with it feeling like a ‘one and done’ kinda game… well… unless you want to depress yourself all over again with the disturbing narrative, that is. Despite this, I still find it easy to recommend the game, with the more compact experience still packing enough punch to ensure it stands out in the crowded puzzle-platformer genre.
White Shadows Review
White Shadows is a dark and disturbing puzzle-platformer that will keep players invested with its unsettling world and twisted narrative. There’s some fun puzzle-platforming to be had along the way too, and whilst there’s nothing too original on offer, there are enough varied ideas on show to ensure that this somewhat short experience still manages to be a sweet one.
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), Xbox Series X|S, PC