Tag Archives: white noise

REVIEW: The Monastery

Slender really opened the floodgates for imitators with its release; it was a brilliant scare that capitalized on the one thing that most of us cannot bear in any quantity— fear, and helplessness in the face of that fear (more or less the opposite of the recent Resident Evil and Dead Space games… zing!). Looking to carve out its piece of the horror pie (if such things can be manifested and baked), Rendercode GamesThe Monastery (80 MSP) tries its hand at the formula.

The Monastery - Screen

First there were missing pages, then tape recorders. The Monastery has bibles for you to locate (10 on Easy, 15 on Normal, 20 on Hard). Music is sufficiently unsettling, and the flashlight does a good job at illuminating just enough to make the darkness feel like a physical element working against you. Finding each book is slightly more challenging here, without any audio or visual clues. Landmarks you can use for navigation are largely absent from the game, too, as one rust-flavored wall or stone column blends into the next, most of the architecture repeated. You will walk around in some circles, no doubt, though it’s not that issue that ultimately breaks the game.

While both Slender and White Noise end when the monster finds you, The Monastery’s creatures do not immediately spell out finality. That fact alone effectively eliminates all sense of danger and / or scares the game may have provided. After being spotted (this can potentially happen fifteen seconds into a game, before you’ve even collected anything), you simply need to avoid them. Worse still, they’re incredibly easy to lose, dropping your scent once you’ve turned corners or run on ahead (and there’s no stamina penalty for prolonged running). So long as you are quite literally walking away, and you don’t get hung up on a doorway or wall, the creatures cannot catch up to and / or kill you.

The Monastery - Screen2

This idea is utterly ridiculous for a horror game, especially one that’s supposedly mimicking the ‘stalking presence’ these games are known for and billed as. It renders the whole thing pointless, a collection minigame about wandering, with only the illusion of antagonism. I gathered the fifteen bibles in the Normal setting on my third playthrough, without breaking a sweat or making a peep. There’s global leaderboards to track your times on each difficulty, though with the game’s concept broken as it is, there’s no satisfaction in posting a good run.

If you absolutely need Slender scares in your life and don‘t mind washing your shorts, play Slender. If you can’t play Slender, play White Noise Online. And if you can’t play White Noise Online, definitely do not play The Monastery. Read a book or go outside.

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Review on Indie Gamer Chick

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REVIEW: White Noise Online

Call them the odd couple, rushing into things so soon after their introduction, but for better or worse, Slender-like psychological scares and online co-op are married in White Noise Online (80 MSP). For the sake of space, I’ll spare you the game’s premise. If you do need some perspective / background, the original’s review is here, though trust that the game is just as gorgeous, the darkness still as disorienting, as ever.

Tape collecting returns (each recorder now comes with a brief yet effective playback), with the benefit (and potential mood-breaker) of online co-op. Don’t worry, it’s not a Slender Man FPS, more a co-op excuse for people who need their hand held during horror movies. It’s only competitive in the sense of who can acquire the most tape recorders and survive the longest, though, as progress is shared between the group. And teamwork is necessary; getting too far ahead of the other players will spell your doom, and them likewise. Hearing the screams of your group getting picked off by the creature one by one, sometimes right next to you, is as unnerving as if you were playing alone.

‘Dying’ isn’t permanent in multiplayer. When you’re ‘found’ by the creature, you’re simply transported to a spirit realm of sorts, where you gain an illuminated view of the grounds. Your body is turned to stone on the spot, and your avatar becomes an outline of a ghost. From here until the last player survives or perishes (or disconnects), you can either follow the paths of others still in the hunt, or help them find additional tapes (being a ghost with enhanced vision has its advantages). At the end, a summary will show you and your crew where and when you found your tapes / demise, and how many times you walked in a circle like an idiot. All in all, the online play works well, even in the context of horror and isolation.

This time out, you can choose from three stages. ‘Chateau’ is the level from the previous game, and hasn’t changed much, outside of the weird, green ‘creature’ obelisks (do not stare at them for long) and avatar ghosts. The added locales, ‘Saint-Martin’ and the snowy ‘Kvitoya’, feature their own unique layouts and monuments, a church and cabins, respectively. Character selection is a first for the franchise, and goes beyond simple preference or gender choices. Each choice comes with its own skill set, like more flashlight power, better scouting abilities, or less susceptibility to fear (vital when you’re the last man standing, or searching, as it were).

White Noise Online - Screen

Pro-tip for real life: if you ever find yourself in a secluded wooded area with a statue like this, run in the opposite direction.

There are extras in the form of unlockable characters, some of which can be obtained by collecting a set number of tapes over your career, while others are accessible only via codes you’ll find in other Milkstone releases you own (effective advertising at its finest, eh?). It’s nothing to get worked up about, just palette swaps, though it is a neat perk if you’re into showing off that you’re a loyal customer.

Leaving the Slender comparisons aside, and if you’re still in the market for scares or too chicken to go it alone, I definitely say you pick up this version of White Noise over the ‘barely two months old’ original. You still have the option to play solo, and the new areas and addition of online play are solid points to this otherwise very early sequel.

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Review on Indie Gamer Chick

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.