Noir Style Amplifies the Horrific in White Night

White Night is the first game from OSome Studios and although it’s deeply influenced by old school survival horror games from the 90s and the cinematic style of 30s and 40s film noir, it stands alone as a unique and elegant piece of interactive art.

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OSome Studios is based in France and was founded by Domenico Albani, Ronan Coiffec and Mathieu Fremont. They met while working on the 2008 release of Alone in the Dark at Eden studios and after heading different directions once that project was complete, they decided to take a break from blockbuster games; OSome Studios and White Night were born.

“The three of us took a step back and realized we each wanted to do something that would let loose our creativities and replenish our passions,”

“The three of us took a step back and realized we each wanted to do something that would let loose our creativities and replenish our passions,” says Coiffec, creative director at the studio, in a Playstation blog post.

Once Albani, Coiffec and Fremont had solidified the core vision and working processes for White Night, they hired around ten freelancers from a variety of backgrounds including theatre, opera and cinema in hopes of keeping their vision fresh and open.

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Even more amazing is the founding trio actually rented a mansion in Normandy and stayed there for a week in order to fully immerse themselves in a setting similar to their creative vision.

“Ronan already spent a week with his girlfriend in this mansion and said it was romantic, isolated and a bit creepy,” Fremont, head of production for White Night, told CG. “That looked like the game so we thought it was a good idea to go there and be in the mood, isolated for a week.”

“When you play it, you feel the game express something.”

The trio worked in the mansion, after setting up a basic Wi-Fi signal, and worked amongst the old furniture and carpets, says Fremont. They took pictures of the surrounding houses as well as the estate. Fremont says the garden entry gate in the game is almost exactly the same as the mansion in Normandy’s.

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“If we had more time we would have loved to include black swans living in the mansion’s park,” he says.

The visuals in White Night are magnificent. The game is in black and white and that intense visual contrast in itself makes the player feel troubled, claustrophobic and anxious throughout gameplay. The wounded protagonist narrates the story through first person voice-over in past tense, as any classic detective noir film would, and he must explore the haunted mansion by finding sources of light in the shadows. All of this while trying to avoid ghosts who unexpectedly emerge from the thick darkness and kill him instantly.

The fixed camera also adds to the level of claustrophobia and harkens back to the original Resident Evil.

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OSome was at PAX East in Boston this past weekend and received a lot of positive feedback from media outlets and players.

“At PAX East, (we) saw many players trying the game and were happy to see them scared, even with the overall noise of the convention hall,” says Fremont. “Even if some don’t like the old-paced rhythm, most love this revival,” he continued.

Fremont added that it’s important to realize White Night, which was released for Xbox One, PS4 and PC on March 3, is a three-person-made, indie work built on a small budget.

“We know it’s not perfect and it’s not comparable to big blockbuster games. It has a lot of hard choices that make it unique,” says Fremont. “When you play it, you feel the game express something."