White Shadows | PS5 Review
White Shadows is an indie platform puzzle game developed by Monokel and published by Thunderful Games and Mixtvision. It is currently available on Windows PC, PlayStation, and XBox, and for the purpose of my review I was playing the PlayStation 5 version.
Typically platform games tend to be quite a bright and cheery affair but White Shadows brings an entirely different mood altogether with the black and white palette and a very distinct warning upon starting the game that there are themes of racism, xenophobia, violence against women and children, suicide and animal cruelty. With this warning in mind I was borderline confused and concerned. In White Shadows you take on the role of Ravengirl who lives in a society where there is a specific hierarchy amongst animals. Pigs make up the working class; rats take on a security role and wolves are top of the food chain. Ravengirl, named appropriately as she is a raven is a cast off in the community as birds are essentially ostracised, cast out and murdered with no mercy spared for them. In a very short amount of time I was really drawn in by all the hidden away messages that were found in White Shadows and instantly felt like I’d walked straight into Animal Farm except represented by some black and white dystopian nightmare. As mentioned previously there was quite an extensive trigger warning upon loading the game and whilst I did notice all these themes at various points, I will say a lot of the time it's very symbolic and happening in the background rather than flaunted right in your face at every opportunity. I tend to avoid spoilers within my reviews but examples of these themes include moments where you’ll see birds distressed in a factory laying eggs and chicks being murdered. For anyone who really feels affected by scenes like this perhaps White Shadows isn’t for you but it isn’t anything overtly traumatic especially with the warning that was given. I’ve played a few games lately where I’d perhaps have liked some form of trigger warning and I’ve even commented on that in my reviews a few times so to have a really detailed trigger warning was actually a pleasant surprise and is an important touch in my opinion.
I try my best not to compare games to other games, however the comparison here is unmissable for me. As soon as I started White Shadows I immediately felt the same sense of dark charm and attraction that I had to Little Nightmares. There was something so cute yet so sinister that I just had to march on through the levels to uncover the story. The story is given in quite a vague way and you really have to be paying attention to every detail around you to see the things happening and build up an image of what's going on around you. Similar to Little Nightmares, White Shadows is quite short and only took me a few hours to beat, however I quite enjoyed the time I spent in the grim dystopian world I was treated to.
The puzzles are quite well thought out and not challenging enough to become frustrating. Most of the puzzles are light puzzles or physics based. Whilst the physics is a bit bizarre it all seemed to work well enough for me that I didn’t have much to complain about and was just able to immerse myself in the crazy environment. Alongside the puzzles the next biggest element to White Shadows is the platforming. Overall, it was also absolutely fine and caused little problems for me. There were a few moments where I’d missed a jump because I glitched through a ladder and Ravengirl didn’t quite connect but it was so rare and also predictable that I was able to quickly learn how to judge the distances with little trouble. There are areas where the platforming really picks up pace and you need to rely on your reflexes being sharp. I feel like White Shadows really managed to get the balance between platform and puzzle game and get the best of both worlds. It never shined in either aspect individually and to puzzle pros, White Shadows will cause little to no problems but anyone looking for quite an abstract story and something a little bit different than White Shadows absolutely won’t disappoint.
Fans of games such as Little Nightmares and Limbo will instantly see the charm that White Shadows holds and be as intrigued and endeared as much as you are disturbed and confused. Whilst White Shadows heavily focuses on some deep themes and some dark concepts it’s dealt with in a tasteful way where it doesn’t become overwhelming for the player mentally.
Lj's Rating: 4 out of 5.
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Many thanks to Plan of Attack for the Review Key.