All animals are the same – with this wisdom from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, the adventure of a little crow girl who dares her way through the enigmatic gorges of a big city metropolis begins in “White Shadows”. That looks nice and morbid, makes you think, but it is very short.
Endless tubes, flying ships and the grimaces of the factories that want to crush our heroine – the world of “White Shadows” is a dystopia with an oppressive industrial look. Instead of people, animals work in the steaming factories, pigs are taken to the slaughterhouse and chicks are shredded. No wonder that people warned about the disturbing content of the game right from the start. But it’s not a splatter horror, but a dark fable about oppression, manipulation and abuse. There are references to George Orwell and the steampunk genre everywhere.
Big city juggernaut
In this nightmare scenario, a little crow girl goes on an adventurous journey. She crawls through narrow tubes and evades deadly dangers until she finally confronts the so-called prophet. Where the girl comes from and what this prophet wants or symbolizes are all questions that are not completely clarified even at the end of the 3-hour game time. In that sense, it’s actually a puzzle platformer.
The process and visual implementation are playfully reminiscent of modern indie classics such as “Limbo” or its successor “Inside” by Playdead. Similar to these role models, the heroine has to prove a little skill with jumps or solve small puzzles. She often has to think about how to use boxes to overcome a barrier, activate machines or escape the spotlights of the guards. It’s not challenging – the problem is usually seen through and solved at first glance. The controls are intuitive and rely on a few inputs with the gamepad
The players have to decide whether they should concentrate on the interaction or simply admire this world with all its dangers and puzzles. Much happens in the background. Factories in which humanoid pigs are crammed together waiting to be processed and mysterious metallic noises that ring out of the boxes create a constant threatening atmosphere, which is underlined by the clever play of light and shadow of the outstanding visual implementation.
The city is not only an impressive wallpaper here, but threatens to overwhelm the little crow girl with its monstrous architecture. Anyone who can live with the fact that in the end more questions than answers remain unanswered can look forward to a visually impressive adventure that doesn’t need to hide from its great role models.
When the credits roll in, you want more of them: more of this world, more of these images, and above all, more answers. The development studio of “White Shadows” does not make it easy for players and leaves a lot to the head cinema. The strengths of this adventure are not in the playful elements, but in the visual implementation. The play of light and shadow, the monstrous architecture and the flowing animations are unique in their perfection in the German gaming landscape. It’s a shame that in the end the feeling remains a little, here again the style takes precedence over the substance.
“White Shadows” has been released for Windows, PS4 and Xbox One. It costs around € 20. USK from 16. We ran through the Windows version for our test.