White Shadows Review

White Shadows Header

White Shadows is not a cheery platformer. In fact, it’s so lacking in cheer that it opens with a message to warn players that what they’re about to experience includes depictions of racism, xenophobia, suicide, violence against women, and violence against children. The message continues saying that White Shadows may not be suitable for everyone, but is it worth looking past the trigger warnings?

White Shadows is set in a world where the mantra is that All Animals Are Equal, clearly referencing Orwell’s Animal Farm. However, in this dystopian world that mantra is not followed and some are more equal than others. There is a defined hierarchy with pigs making up the working class, rats acting as security, and wolves being at the top. You, meanwhile, are Ravengirl, a member of the ostracised birds who is simply trying to survive in a world where her kind are killed without mercy.

The game is a puzzle platformer whose story unfolds over five chapters, with each one looking at the themes Monokel outline in the opening statement. The game is symbolically rendered in black and white, and when that’s put together with the platforming, it is hard not to think of Limbo. However, the world of White Shadows has a lot more detail to it, letting the environment tell the story for the most part and allowing the player to piece things together for themselves from this dark world. You will see moments where newly hatched chicks are killed without mercy, distressed birds forced to lay eggs in a factory, evoking a parallel to the practice of factory farming in our own world. White Shadows also touches on other subjects like exploitation for entertainment, and control of the populace.

White Shadows Gameplay

The platforming is relatively simple throughout the game, as are the puzzles that you will need to overcome to pass through each area. There are some more high intense moments in White Shadows where your reactions will be tested as obstacles and dangers come quickly, but they mix well with the slower-paced moments. The chapters provide slightly different platforming experiences where you could be jumping from platform to platform in one and avoiding gunfire in others. There is always something new to experience through the approximately two hours it takes to reach the end.

White Shadows is a short game, and that does mean the story it tells is compact, leaving things open enough that you can imagine what happens to the world.

There are a couple of moments where controls felt a bit fiddly, such as when grabbing onto a ladder after making a jump and it not always connecting properly which led to Ravengirl falling to her death. Thankfully, the game has a very generous checkpoint system. There are also moments where the game’s performance dropped, even while reviewing on Xbox Series X, but this only lasted for a brief time.

White Shadows might have a short run time and be fairly by the numbers as a platformer, but it packs a lot in for you to experience. If you enjoy your dystopian fiction then you will find a game that sets up a world which raises questions, though the the Animal Farm influence is clear to see. White Shadows hits on a lot of dark themes, but does so in such a way that is not overwhelming.
  • The environments look really good and feed into the dystopian feel
  • Great use of classic music in the soundtrack
  • A generally accomplished platformer
  • Some issues when trying to grab surfaces
  • Moments when the gameplay can stutter
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From the heady days of the Mega Drive up until the modern day gaming has been my main hobby. I'll give almost any game a go.