STAFF REVIEW of White Noise 2 (Xbox One)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017.
by Adam Dileva

White Noise 2 Box art I say this every time I have to review a scary game, but it bears worth repeating; I’m absolutely terrified of horror games. I don’t understand this fact though, as horror and gore movies don’t scare me one bit, but if I’m playing a scary game, I turn into a complete wuss. Yet I like these games, as the jump scares and a brooding setting always makes me very tense, usually resulting in a handful of obscenities being shouted out and the lights permanently on.

My newest horror game to check out was White Noise 2, a 4 vs 1 type game, much like Evolve, but in a much more confined and creepy setting. Creepy atmospheres in games really get me, so while yes, I fall victim to jump scares, the brooding atmosphere of being in the dark knowing something is hunting you, sets a certain tone, one that changes based on if you’re playing alone or with others.

There is an overall narrative, the basic premise being that as a paranormal investigator, you’re tasked with finding clues in a 'creepier-than-it-should-be' enclosed area along with your team. You’re only given flashlights to defend yourself, as the demons hunting you don’t like the light, and it is the only way to defend yourself. There are a handful of clues you must find in the form of audio tapes, each of which unravel a small portion of the story audibly as you continue your search while trying to survive. Stay together as a group though, as venturing off alone is surely to get you killed when there’s no one nearby to save you.

The gameplay of White Noise 2 involves 4 investigators versus 1 monster, hence the comparison to 2K's Evolve. As the human players, you need to not draw any attention to yourself, conserving your flashlight’s remaining battery power, all while fumbling in the dark with no map or general sense of where to go. If you become lost from your team you can shout to one another to highlight each person, but this will also highlight your position to the predatory monster as well. Should the monster catch one of your members, you have a short time to shine your flashlight at it to force it to release them, causing it to flee and search for your team once again.

The monster has a bunch of tools in its arsenal to help catch its prey though. It can disable investigators flashlights for a short period of time, place idols that will disorientate, and it can even teleport nearby. The default monster is very basic, but as you progress by leveling up and playing, you can unlock more monsters, each with their own unique abilities and play style to suit how you want to stalk your prey. Unlocking all the monsters, and playable characters, will take some dedication though, as leveling is a very slow process, at least with the matches I was able to play in, when I could find them.

The setup for gameplay is basic, but what I didn’t expect was that even if you get caught and killed by the monster, you’re not completely out of the game. You respawn as a ghost, able to help your teammates in other subtle ways, while also being able to destroy any idols placed. You are unable to see the monster, since you could easily chat via party chat and relay its location, but it’s a neat idea to keep players that have already died invested in the match and not simply waiting for it to be over. Should the monster capture every investigator though, it wins and the match is over.

There’s a handful of maps, and while they are each based in a different setting, it’s hard to appreciate them since you’re constantly fumbling around in the dark without a navigation map to reference. Luckily, you have an ability that you can use once in a while and it allows you 'ping' the nearest clue and show you what direction it is on your compass, but it’s very vague and only meant to point you in the general vicinity, not right towards it.

A neat addition is that when the match has ended, there’s a slate that shows the path that every player, and the monster, took during the match from beginning to end. What’s interesting about this is that even though I thought the confined area I was in was huge, I seemed to always loop around the same places many times while searching for my clues. This should be no surprise though, as the majority of your viewpoint is nearly pitch black.

Audio is done decently, aside from the voice acting. The general mood is very creepy and you’ll constantly hear small noises, making you wonder if that’s the monster behind you or not. There are some jump scares thrown in, even when the monster isn’t around you, which seems like a cheap tactic for fear, but hey, it worked on me numerous times.

There’s a major fault with White Noise 2 though, in that it absolutely needs to be played with others online. No, you’re not forced to, and you can play single player, but it’s a completely different experience, a terrible one that I feel some might base its gameplay on. I initially tried playing single player, which is the same game but, well, by yourself. Yes it’s a little creepier knowing that you’re alone, but it’s a bland experience that will likely result in being caught since you’re not given many tools to fend off monster attacks. To be honest, I initially wanted to give up only after a few matches of solo play.

I went to seek a match online to join random players and see if the experience would differ with others. Hooray, I found a lobby! I chose my character and flashlight (since I had only unlocked one at that point) and waited for other players to join, or the host to begin the match. Well, I stayed for about 20 minutes and no one joined and the host wasn’t responding in voice comms, so I left the lobby and searched for another. No matches found. Search again. No matches found. After about 15 minutes of no lobbies to join, I gave up for the night, figuring I would have better luck the next day.

Next day rolls around, I search for a game, and voila, I get put into a nearly full match. Everyone picked their character, and monster, and we waited for the host to start the match. Well, I guess he was away from the controller, as the match never began. This experience has been, I’d say, about 90% of what I go through when I try finding people online to play with. Eventually I found a match with a host that was there and we began our clue searching horrorfest.

Even with random players, White Noise 2 online is a great deal of fun. Even though the other players had no microphones to talk with me, we were able to communicate with one another, sticking together, trying to save one another when one of us got captured. Teamwork is required, and there are even puzzles to figure out, so communication is key. While this is somewhat possible with random strangers, with a group of friends, White Noise 2 has a lot of potential to be a lot of fun. It’s a shame that the requirements for that are so narrow though, as nearly every other experience I’ve had has been frustrating. From my time with the game over the past few days, there seems to be a very small community of players actively playing, making grouping up a harder task than it should be.

Though solo play wasn’t very exciting, finding a group of like-minded players online to play with made White Noise 2 feel like a completely different game. I can only imagine a group of 5 friends together, working as a team, how much better the experience would be. The premise may be simple, and there’s not much to see due to aimlessly wandering poorly lit hallways and rooms, but if you’re a fan of the 4 vs. 1 genre, and enjoy horror based games, White Noise 2 is worth checking out for these reasons alone.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.5 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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