Thunderful Publishing has been bringing the world quality independent games for some time now such as the Steamworld franchise, Pumpkin Jack, Lonely Mountains: Downhill and more. Their latest title is developer Monokel’s debut game White Shadows, a cinematic puzzle-platformer with a striking visual style.
The story of White Shadow follows a character named Ravengirl who is being crushed under the boot of an oppressive world. The society she lives in claims that everyone should be equal but that is not the case. Wolves are at the top of society while the working class is made up of pigs. The birds, like Ravengirl, get killed without any thought and Ravengirl wants to escape from this. This is one of those games that tells its narrative through environmental storytelling instead of with dialog as things are constantly going on in the background to show you just what a brutal world this can be. The world is dark and dreary with a black and white noir art style reminiscent of games like Limbo. The visuals and the way it tells its story is one of the best things about this game. I do want to say that the game does warn you that some of the sections and imagery are a bit disturbing so this game might not be for people out there who can be sensitive to this kind of material.
The gameplay is very much like a lot of side-scrolling puzzle platformers out there. You’re trying to help Ravengirl escape this city and will have to make it through plenty of deadly obstacles that are looking to crush her into dust along the way. There are platforms to jump to, boxes to move, trains and gunfire to dodge, ladders to traverse, and much more. The jumping can feel a little off at times which led to a couple deaths for me but for the most part I thought it played very well, at least when it’s running right. You see the game suffers from some stuttering issues with the framerate at times that can affect the gameplay. They didn’t happen to me often but when they did, I could really feel it. This game isn’t on last-generation consoles so it was disappointing to see a dedicated PlayStation 5 game have this problem. For the gamplay side of things there isn’t a lot more to say other than it will only last you a few hours and there isn’t much reason to go back and replay it.
White Shadows also makes good use of sound with lots of machinery sounds hitting nicely making you feel like you are really in this dystopian city. They also insert some classic musical pieces such as Ride of the Valkyries that are very satisfying during the moments they happen. If you’re a trophy hunter you’ll find 19 trophies including a Platinum. It’s a pretty easy list for the most part and so long as you can complete sections without dying you should have no problem unlocking all of them.
White Shadows is a great debut title from Monokel that has great visuals, touches on some dark subject matter, and performs solidly in the gameplay department. It needs a patch or two to tighten up the framerate and Ravengirl’s journey will be over before you know it. The world and environmental storytelling really stuck with me though and it’s one of my favorite indie games of this year.
*White Shadows is available now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, and PC. PlayStation 5 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- Dark, dystopian world that's themes will make you think
- Monochromatic art style is effective and beautiful
- Solid platforming gameplay with some great moments
- Great audio design
- Has some framerate issues that affect gameplay at times
- Subject matter may turn some off
- Short runtime