REVIEW: White Noise: A Tale of Horror

Let’s just get it out in the open. It is impossible to mention White Noise: A Tale of Horror (80 MSP) or any of the harm / good it does, without first invoking Slender. Their two cores are so intrinsically-linked that it’s not out of order for you to call White Noise a straight-up rip-off. It is. It’s also a no-brainer. I can say I entirely don’t mind a console version (unoriginal as it may be) that can replicate the fear the indie PC release did such a masterful job at creating.

As much as I can claim to be better equipped than some, I’m still a wuss in a lot of respects. I don’t like to feel scared or helpless. The same applies for horror games and their manifestations, especially being at the mercy of a threat you cannot fight no matter how much courage you muster. Your only choice throughout is to walk (or, better, run) in the opposite direction. The patch of ground the entirety of the game takes place in is no ally either. Each play starts you off at a random point within it, keeping you disoriented and constantly plying the darkness and terrain for clues, with no safe port to anchor in.

You’ll undoubtedly walk in circles your first few tries, which is entirely the game’s intention. How better to appreciate the odd layout of the land, the heavy foliage and wandering ghosts (harmless), a running stream or architecture that’s even Silent Hill-esque in spots, like a street that unexpectedly drops off into a foggy void? Milkstone certainly has the programming chops to evoke uneasiness. White Noise has a really nice-looking 3D engine that I hope to see employed in other, lengthy and more original horror endeavors. That’s not a dig at the company, more so a ‘thumbs up’ for them to aspire to do more.

Both the environment and ambient sound effects superbly set the tone. Disembodied screams, or the coughing of your own character, ratchet up nerves. The subtle images in the darkness, like trees that take human forms, or statues whose shapes are a little off, too, spawn a sense of dread. The predator here is just as effective. Granted, Milkstone’s creature is no Slender Man, but the same visceral tension is present in every near sighting, every corner-of-your-eye glance. You won’t suffer from any nightmares, but if Slender scared you enough to avoid playing with the lights off, expect White Noise to do the same.

White Noise - Screen

Again, collection of a set number of items is the engine for transporting scares. While Slender had you retrieving eight scattered pages, in this game it’s tape recorders. There’s no map or set route to follow, and only the sound of static will point towards the next recorder. You don’t get to listen to any dialogue upon collection, but the accompanying music change lets you know you’ve just made a mistake. The creature begins stalking you after the first pickup, and doesn’t lose your scent for long if you manage to avoid it. Count on it standing right behind you. There are several cues, audio and visual, that will warn you of trouble.

And that’s it. It plays like the original. White Noise is obvious copycatism, though it does succeed at beating everyone else to the punch (i.e., Slender on console). It’s light on additional content, only a code to unlock items in other Milkstone releases (EDIT 1/27: An update has added new unlockable visual filters: Night Vision / Smiley Face / brighter flashlight, and a new Hard mode), but as a homage (or rip-off, depending on your word choice) to one of the most unnerving games I’ve played, it fills the role much better than expected. The fact that someone will pay a dollar willingly in order to be terrorized is compliment enough.

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Bonus! Watch the always-entertaining Alan from The Indie Ocean blindly play White Noise.

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16 thoughts on “REVIEW: White Noise: A Tale of Horror”

    1. Ah, to be honest with you, I don’t remember the opening screen of the game. If it happened to you, then I believe it….

      …unless your copy of the game happens to be haunted, in which case, you may be screwed. 😀

    1. In any other game, randomly dying would be a fault. Here, it serves to add to the tension! 🙂

      I’d die two to three tapes before the end, so count yourself lucky. I kinda figured I wasn’t missing anything with the ending, either. Games like this are more about the journey than the payoff.

  1. I’ve been thinking about getting this one as well, since I thought Decay was great (but a bit on the expensive side compared to the amount of gameplay). And since there’s no other experiences like Slender on the XBL Indie storefront, White Noise (and it’s super early coop sequel) sound like great games to get if you’re looking for a Slender or even a quality horror experience for a great price.

    1. It’s still Slender by a different name, though Milkstone does it better than most. And you’re right; it’s really the only choice for Slender-like scares on the Xbox. That it’s on the indie channel for cheap certainly helps. And to be fair to Milkstone, they have added things to the Online sequel that ‘sort of’ make it their own, with unlockable characters and perks, as well as the online play. It’s a very good investment for 80 MSP.

  2. Did some reading around about this game before ultimately deciding to give it a try. I’m glad I gave the game a chance–t’s well-done and genuinely scary! Thanks for posting this review.

    1. I didn’t even know they had an update, but after playing it for a bit, I’m getting the same stutters as you (infrequent, but they’re definitely there). Also ran into that Code 3 you mentioned after collecting 6 tapes, three games in. No idea what that is.

      (EDIT) I started it up directly after the Code 3, and I’ve been fine over the last five or six games. No more stutters either, outside of one or two. Hmmm. I didn’t do anything different this time, so who knows.

  3. I enjoy playing White Noise but I do feel a little uneasy about the similarity to Slender. I suppose it can semi-justified on the same basis as Sushi Castle: you can’t play the original on the Xbox, so here is a copy that is the next best thing. Even so, I wish Milkstone would use their talents for original games more often.

    1. Semi-justified is accurate, definitely. That’s really the only reason I’m okay with it. I’m surprised it took this long to make a console Slender, although I suppose there are only a handful of developers like Milkstone that could pull off a competent copy. The engine they used is great, though. Why not put that development into something like what The Undead Syndrome did, or better still, a completely original idea? Maybe they have a grand idea in mind, and it’s on the way, who knows.

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