LifeisXbox’s White Shadows review | Checking out new games is fun. Discovering a brand new developer that just published their first game, is even a little more fun somehow. Seeing what developers do for their first release is always so exciting! So, today, let me introduce you to Monokel, a German indie development studio. Their first game, White Shadows, recently saw the light on Xbox, PC, and PlayStation, so we had to check it out! White Shadows is a cinematic puzzle-platformer that uses a monochrome art style, immediately attracting the player’s attention. Let’s see if this game also manages to retain that attention, shall we?
White Shadows was developed by Monokel and published by Thunderful Publishing and Mixtvision.
I feel like it’s especially hard to put into words how well-constructed this game was graphic-wise.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion from the writer.
What we liked!
- Cinematic masterpiece | When first laying eyes upon White Shadows, you just can’t get around the graphics. The absolutely stunning black, white and grey art style really is the highlight of this game. I feel like it’s especially hard to put into words how well-constructed this game was graphic-wise. The cinematic art style really sucks you in and has you looking around at your screen through your entire journey. So much more than what your character is doing is happening all around you, and you simply don’t want to miss a single second.
- Music | Together with the grim look of White Shadows, we also get some magnificent music and sound effects. Even if you’re not a regular listener of classical music, you’ll find yourself hearing familiar songs. Maybe the name Also Sprach Zarathustra doesn’t ring a bell, but if you hear this well-known sound from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, you will recognise it immediately. Other undeniably recognizable songs included Ride of The Valkyrie and The Blue Danube Waltz. And what’s more, the way these songs and the game worked together was just so beautiful to witness. Seeing a bunch of machines work to the rythm of The Blue Danube Waltz just gives this game an extra dimension.
- Open story | You’ll figure out pretty quickly that this White Shadows draws heavy inspiration from George Orwell’s work. With the phrase ‘all animals are equal’, we are thrown into a grim dystopian world where we follow the story of a little Ravengirl trying to escape this world founded on oppression and violence that puts her at the bottom of its hierarchical social ladder. All animals are equal, except birds. It’s a very abstract story that actually doesn’t use any real voices. Everything is told through visuals and near the end, some text as well. I really loved this concept, even though I’m not sure I fully understood it. But that’s part of the beauty of such games, in my opinion.
- Gameplay | The overall gameplay in White Shadows is fairly straightforward. You simply walk a linear path, jump over things, and avoid the occassional obstacle. Except for the puzzles, the platforming is really, really basic. Some might find this off-putting, but you have to keep in mind that this is a cinematic game. It almost feels like you’re walking through an old movie or something. So the ‘missing’ gameplay isn’t to be interpreted negative here. As I mentioned before, you’re so busy with absorbing all the beautiful art and everything that’s happening in the back, that it’s actually nice that you don’t have to focus too much on the front all the time.
- Puzzles | Besides platforming, White Shadows also has some puzzle elements and some bigger puzzles at the end of each chapter. The simple puzzles were really easy to figure out as they often involved retracing a few of your steps, grabbing a box and using it to your advance. Now, I was hoping the ‘end of chapter’ puzzles would be more difficult, but they simply weren’t. It’s very obvious that the focus for this game was put on the cinematic element rather than the puzzle element. And that’s fine, it’s a choice made by the developers. However, I think some players, including myself, might be a bit disappointed by the simplicity. I would’ve loved to see a bit more difficulty so the game was longer and more challenging.
- Short with no replay value | White Shadows is over before you know it. Somehow, the quick ending felt both charming and sad. You will probably finish this game in 2 to 3 hours. Usually, abstract games and stories are on the short side as this contributes to the mystery and charm. Still, I would’ve really loved to see a bit more of White Shadows, mostly because there is simply no replay value. Except if you want to unlock all those secret achievements, that is.
What we disliked
- There is nothing fundamently wrong with White Shadows 🙂
How long to beat the story | 2 to 3 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 3 to 6 hours (I think)
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Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂