White Night is a horror-noir adventure game made by OSome studio, and published by Activision. It It was released on March 3rd, 2015 for PC and PS4, with a Xbox One version following on March 6th, 2015, iOS on November 15th, 2017, and a Nintendo Switch port on May 17th, 2018. Though it has no relation to the novel of the same name, the two series share similar themes, atmosphere, and the main characters dress the same.
The year is 1938, and after a long night of doing whatever it is our No Name Given protagonist does, he begins to head home. Upon seeing a ghostly woman storm across the road, the man swerves and crashes. Wounded from the crash and with the woman nowhere in sight, he leaves to get help for himself and the girl, he heads into a manor off the side of the road marked "The Vesper Mansion". While the place is seemingly abandoned, our protagonist soon finds that it's still occupied, just not by the living. Trapped in the mansion with no way out, the protagonist uncovers the sinister and tragic history of the Vesper Family, all while slowly getting the feeling that maybe he isn't the only person left in the mansion...
Gameplay consists of the player wandering around the house and solving puzzles. The game's unique mechanics include light-based stealth evasion, a match system in which the player can only light the general area around himself and can only carry twelve matches at a time, and a nearly completely black and white artstyle with nearly pitch black darkness.
White Night includes the following tropes:
- The Alcoholic: Selena, William, and even the protagonist all mention an affinity for booze- Selena to drown her regrets, William to calm his nerves, and the protagonist for completing his Hardboiled Detective image.
- Anti-Frustration Features: Matches will always be visible in the dark. In addition, if a light source in a room is within sight, most of the environment will gain outlines, allowing you to navigate without burning a match.
- Dark Is Evil: Very, very evil. The shades of Margaret can't touch you in electric light, incentivizing that the player stay in sources of electric light to survive. In addition, staying in the dark too long without matches will eventually kill you.
- Downer Ending: The protagonist kills the woman he loves in a fit of hysteria, and only comes to terms with it at the end of the game. Depending on your interpretation, he either comes to terms with his illness and stops killing, begrudgingly descends into full-blown insanity and keeps killing, or, considering the symbolism of the final scene, kills himself.
- Empathic Environment: As the tension mounts during Chapters 3 and 4, a storm rolls in. This becomes Five-Second Foreshadowing as the storm eventually blows the lights out.
- Evil Matriarch: Oh boy... If that's not Margaret. From the takes of her diary, is made clear that she was a cold, cruel and ruthless woman. She looked down at Henry, her husband, thinking about him as weak and inferior and didn't cared at all when he died. William suffered a lot under his mother wing, eventually becoming an insane serial killer who murdered women that looked like her.
- Foreshadowing: A metric ton.
- Some notable examples include tons of throwaway dialogue from examining things, all of which seem to point to the protagonist being awfully familiar with the Vesper family and its history.
- The fact that the protagonist matches up perfectly with William's established abilities and personality is slowly revealed throughout the game. Examples include: him being The Alcoholic, being able to play Piano, describing Selena just like William does, and so on. Both are also highly cynical romantics, and both fall in love with Selena at first sight.
- Early on in Chapter 3, you find Henry Vesper's body. But where's Margaret? You find her body much later down the line.
- Selena herself hints at the reveal frequently. This is most obvious during the climax of chapter five, where she pushes away the protagonist in fear, and even shouts "Why did you do this to me?"
- The "notes to self" made by William hint at major mechanics that come into play, like the faulty wiring of the mansion, though some examples describe techniques that'll only be useful later down the road. With the reveal in mind, they also become literal notes to self.
- I Hate Past Me: The personality we play as in the game comes to be repulsed by his William persona without even realizing the two are one and the same.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Exactly what's going on in the mansion is up to the player. While the ghosts seem real, it's established the protagonist is badly wounded, and thus may be hallucinating. The lategame pushes this even further, with what seems to be some sort of sacrificial temple under the Vesper Mansion. Considering the whole game is Through the Eyes of Madness, it's entirely possible the final two chapters of the game never happened as literally as they seem to have occurred.
- Non-Action Guy: The protagonist refuses to fight the ghosts... which makes sense considering a) he's still wounded from the car crash, b) they can easily overpower him, and c) the enemies in this game are all ghosts/hallucinations.
- No Name Given: The protagonist never says his name throughout the game, though we learn it after we return to his car at the end of the game: William Vesper.
- Red Herring: The game heavily implies that William is somewhere in the mansion with you, which is true in a sense.
- The Reveal: Our protagonist is none other than Serial Killer The Black Lake Wolf, aka William Vesper. The whole game is some kind of metaphorical hallucination he's having in grief over killing Selena, so much so that he's completely disassociated himself with his original persona.
- Sanity Slippage:
- Around chapter 5, the protagonist really starts to lose it. Granted, being in a house full of shades of your mother out for revenge and being surrounded by blood and dead bodies really doesn't do wonders to William's already fragile mind.
- The entire Vesper Family underwent this, with each becoming more and more deranged as the notes progress. Henry became more reclusive and distant, eventually going insane, while Margaret went blind and seemed to suffer from periods of hysteria. William is categorically depressed, though he too goes insane. This seems to be caused by some sort of curse, according to Margaret, though hindsight and modern medicine teach us that the whole family was ravaged by neurosyphilis, which she had inherited from her father when he coughed blood on her while afflicted.
- Spiritual Successor: To Silent Hill 2.
- Splash of Color: The only colour in the entire game is the dull yellow/orange in the loading screens/menus, and on your lit matches.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: The games notes are from the perspective of some very mentally ill people, as is the whole game.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Our nameless protagonist is, in reality, a hallucinating, amnesiac, dazed William Vesper, coming home from murdering Selena and undergoing a psychological break as a result.
- Wham Shot:
- Arriving in the attic and seeing DO YOU LOVE ME SELENA placed all over the walls.
- Selena's body being in the boot of your car.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: The player character gets seemingly killed by the ghosts haunting the mansion if they catch him, which seems to imply they're not hallucinations. Come the endgame this is thrown out the window, and it becomes clear that they are hallucinations.