White Noise 2
Unless you’re a gamer who has been living under a rock, survival horror games are everywhere these days. I think that this is partly to do with the fact that as opposed to more “pure” survival games such as Rust or Ark: Survival Evolved, in survival horror games you have to fend off some sort of malevolent force which is purposefully out to get you.
Survival horror as a genre seem to be divided into two separate subgenres as of late. On one hand, you have games which pit a sole person (you, the player) against some sort of soon-to-be-revealed menace, such as Alien: Isolation or the Outlast series. On the other, you have asymmetrical multiplayer survival horror, such as articulated in games like Friday the 13th: The Game or Dead by Daylight.
The latter has come into prominence more recently, as they allow you to team up with friends as survivors, while another player stars as the evil entity. And this surge in popularity is understandable—there’s nothing like wandering around maps with your gaming buddies while trying to accomplish some sort of objectives in order to either banish said entity (as in White Noise 2) or escape (Friday the 13th: The Game and DBD). Not only can running around while squealing like little schoolgirls be super-hilarious (and also quite embarrassing), the teamwork and comradery that you utilize with your mates is equally fun.
I tried to play Friday the 13th: The Game but its game breaking bugs along with its serious lack of content made it seem like an Early Access titles stuck in Alpha. I also put some time into DBD, which I thought was a better game in some respects, but the singular “repair the generator” objective got both stale and highly repetitive after a short while.
White Noise 2 actually came to me out of nowhere—a good gaming friend mentioned it sort of off-handedly and I checked it out on Steam briefly. At first I was a little put off by its visuals, but the more I watched the actual gameplay the more it drew me in. In WN 2 you can play as one of four investigators who are tasked with hunting down 8 clues, or as one of six monsters which are out to devour said investigators—yes that’s right, straight eat them up.
If you choose to play as one of the investigators, you’ll soon discover that your trusty flashlight is your best friend and main weapon. Just shining it in the direction of the monster can cause it to rapidly deteriorate from the mortal realm and force it to teleport away. You’re also armed with little light sticks that you can toss around in order to either light the path ahead of you, or drop to your rear in order to cover your tracks. I found these to be particularly useful for interior areas such as hallways. If no one was watching our teams’ backs I’d just toss down a light stick behind us at certain intervals to keep any stalkers at bay. Although they don’t last too long they are a rechargeable ability.
You can also utilize other items such as med kits (for healing yourself or a party member), flashbangs and incense (for disrupting the monster’s senses), and other useful piece of equipment you can find throughout each map. The clues themselves take the form of tapes, and you have to be very close to them in order to pick them up for your team.
As a monster, you likewise have a wide variety of abilities at your disposal. For instance, if you play as the hideously misshapen hag known as Rusalka, you can attack investigators with your tape worms or use your Hypnotism ability to more easily drive them insane. Since investigator-players that are insane lose control over their characters, it’s easier for her to then dispatch and devour them. You can also summon Idols at various locations throughout each map. These fleshy totems dedicated to malevolent forces can not only detect investigators close to them, but also come with their own individual capabilities. For example, the grotesque looking Blister Idol emit spores which can interfere with flashlights and other electrical equipment, while Pustule Idols enhance a monster’s abilities.
The wide array of abilities available between both the investigators and the creatures stalking them, give WN 2 much more variance than other games of similar ilk. For instance, when playing as the investigators, should you put your high health character at the rear of the pack and have your high detection character in front? Or maybe your team will decide to have your bravest character in front of the group in order to mitigate going insane from the horrid sightings your team will eventually come across. These factors really make WN 2 a much more team-focused asymmetrical survival horror game, where you really have to look out for each other and strategize in order to survive. This is in direct contrast to games such as DBD where there really isn’t any incentive to work together.
WN 2’s graphics are actually quite good once you take everything in. The character models are all well-rendered, but it’s the spooky environments that really stand out. There are seven maps in all, including a corrupted abbey and some Cthulhu-inspired ruins, and each of them is very well-designed. They’re also very large and easy to get lost within. The use of light and darkness are also brilliantly articulated here, and anything that isn’t within your team’s flashlight circles will look very dark. The environmental sounds also must receive a nod, as they are some of the best I’ve heard in a horror game. Ambient noises pop up at random intervals and can be really unnerving.
WN 2’s creepy visuals combined with its excellent sound design (plus the large map sizes) make it easy for investigators to get cut off from one another. These were many times when I’d be creeping down a dark hallway with the rest of my team, only to hear some scary noise off to the side, get spooked thinking that it was the creature, and go running off into the darkness by myself. You can call out to your teammates when this sort of embarrassing event happens, but if the creature is nearby it’ll be able to detect you as well.
In all, I’d consider White Noise 2 to be the current frontrunner of the asymmetrical multiplayer survival horror (say that 3 times real fast!) pack. Its emphasis on careful teamwork and coordination, exploration, eerie environments, and general fun factor make it a must-have for horror fans.
White Noise 2 features graphics that are more than good enough to wow your friends with. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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