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White Noise Online (PC) artwork

White Noise Online (PC) review

"Still budget jump scares and the sound of screams from a million miles away."

It was late 2012, and Xbox Live Indie developers and serial plagiarists copiers, Milkstone Studios had just hit paydirt. Shamelessly stealing from Generously inspired by the rather well-received Slender: The Eight Pages, they created their own version of wandering around a slab of woodlands while being stalked by a monster that was almost always just behind you. White Noise: a tale of Horror couldnít get their capitalisation right, but creeped you the hell out anyway. Forests at night were already creepy. Navigating with whatever bubble of light your torch provided was already creepy. A luminous white monster popping up constantly in the corner of your screens forcing you to run the hell away was often terrifying. It was as simple and effective as it was ruthlessly pilfered and altered slightly enough to not get sued to hell and back.

White Noise was a bit of a hit in that it wasnít just a recognised franchise mockbuster like those sy-fi channel films you pretend you donít love but a solid enough game in its own right. It was cheap, you could download it in approximately 7 seconds and, if you set it up, gave the pad to an unsuspecting friend, turned off the lights and filmed their reactions to share with everyone you know, it was worth its weight in gold.

Iíd like to take a second to make yet another apology to my friend Karen that I donít actually mean. That clip remains hilarious.

Soon though, that version became obsolete when Milkstone decided to have a dabble at a spot of originality. Kind of. White Noise Online took their first effort, snuck in five more maps and offered online play with up to three other players. Some of this was a bit of a bust; wandering off on your own for too long often meant a cheap insta-death, so your one and only option was staying with the group. So, as a unit, you had to explore these new settings and find hidden tape recorders that played inaudible recordings before the bright white monster tracked you down and ate your face.

Thing is, while undertaking White Noise on your own remains the scarier (and still very much viable) option, grouping up does present a brand new set of laudable dynamics. Sometimes, you donít even see the monster; you just hear one of your travelling party scream, and you know itís time to leg it. You donít have time to all plot the same course, so, odds are, in the midst of an escape, some of you are going to get picked off and killed. Unlike the first game, being killed doesnít mean game over; you are resurrected as a ghost and can try to help the remaining survivors by hunting down the tapes. You can try to re-find your group by following the beams of their flashlights, which you can often see in the distance, even if it means stepping over the odd corpse on your way there.

White Noise Online hit the Xbox Indie scene in early 2013, making the original version obsolete in a little over a month, and its release onto PC hasnít seen a lot of change. Thereís a bit of a graphic spruce up, and keyboard controls have been spliced in, but everything else remains the same. Thereís still a selection of characters to play as who all have special talents that still arenít particularly well explained. It still has that budget feel now with a new veneer of obvious console port, but mainly because itís a budget title and an obvious console port, so should either really be held against it? It remains a good way to get together with a group of likeminded players and get creeped out by that thing that wants to kill you. And, should you dare peek over your shoulder, is almost always right there.

It would be remiss if I didnít mention that the gameís best feature still remains; after youíve all be slaughtered (or if youíve somehow found all the recorders) youíre presented with a grid that shows your exploration. This often simply points out that youíve been running around in a panicked circle for the last fifteen minutes. Jumping at shadows, forgetting your exploration once the panic hits, being picked off one by one. Are there many better ways to pass an evening?


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (May 26, 2014)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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wolfqueen001 posted May 27, 2014:

Hm. To me, this series almost sounds like Alan Wake (from what I've read about it). I didn't know it "took inspiration" from Slender, too, (which I'll have to read about shortly). I have sort of a love-hate relationship with horror titles, so this one caught my interest. To be honest, though, I really don't like the ones where if you're caught once you're dead. I hate feeling like I'm going to piss myself the whole time I'm playing a game, haha. I like to have some sort of defense. Therefore, I'll probably stay away from this one.

Side note: The picture on the cover art reminds me of the Alien, for some strange reason. I should go back to those films.
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EmP posted May 27, 2014:

It has very little in common with Alan Wake. White Noise Online is basically first person exploration of an enclosed area where you have to find eight items in the dark before a scary monster finds and eats you. Alan Wake is more akin to Resident Evil, where it's a third-person perspective with weapons where you fend off a small army of lesser monsters over several chapters. That both are dark, use flashlights heavily and exist in the woods are the only real similarities. Though you can come out of the woods and use different level skins in White Noise. Wake's in the woods forever, and you best get used to it. I do like both, though for very different reasons.

Hereís an alarming side note: how have you got this far in life without watching Aliens?

Thank you for the catches. I shall tidy them away shortly. And thanks for reading.
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honestgamer posted May 27, 2014:

I haven't watched any of the Aliens films, or Prometheus. It's easy to miss that kind of thing, even when you're 35, if you grew up with a father who bought most of the household movies and rarely ventured outside comedy.

I did see Event Horizon, but that was something I saw because a college roommate rented it (along with The Thing and Se7en and 12 Monkeys, other movies I otherwise likely wouldn't have watched) and not because I sought it out.

I'm actually not big on sci-fi (having also missed Bladerunner and A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey), but at least I saw Star Wars. Because a high school acquaintance lent me the VHS tapes when I admitted I hadn't seen them. Now I have the blu-ray, but Aliens just hasn't ever sounded like much good and the only parts of the Terminator movies I've ever seen were clips in the break room at work.
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wolfqueen001 posted May 28, 2014:

I've seen the first two. I just haven't seen Aliens in a few years and need to again, especially since I've recently seen Alien (about three months ago). AND I really want to see the third and fourth ones, even if they're awful, and I've heard awesome things about Prometheus.

Essentially, you've converted me into an Aliens fan, so I'm pretty psyched.
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EmP posted May 29, 2014:

Iíve come to not so much like Alien 3, but I appreciate it more than I used to, while still maintain a slow burning rage that the initial drafts (the ones written by William Gibson and Vince Ward especially) where rejected then mashed together to form an awful, rushed parody of what could have been. It was also victim to what can only be described as worthless amateurish editing that managed to keep a lot of fluff but bafflingly cut out vital key scenes. If you can get the assembly cut of the film, always go with that. Alien Resurrection is beyond redemption, and I donít care what Josh Whedonís done since or how much I love Firefly; if I ever saw him in the street, I would hit him in the face with a shovel for the god awful mess that this film is.

Iíll also come right out and say that I do not care for Prometheus, but reserve that particular pet rant for another time and place that isnít supposed to be review feedback topic for an unrelated game.

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