Multiplayer horror games have suddenly found new life on the PS4. While you wouldn't normally associate tense atmosphere and scares with the chaos of multiplayer, this new subgenre has proven that it can be done with the right formula.
In the case of White Noise 2, we're looking at a 4-vs-1 setup with four survivors and one creature. This game stands out with unique and Lovecraftian styled creatures, along with plenty of depth to the gameplay. Do these things help it break through the static in the genre, or is this game destined to remain obscure?
First Impressions: White Noise 2 Stands Apart
There has been a surge of multiplayer horror titles in the last year or so on PS4, and while this new branch of the horror genre is interesting, it's hard to stand out as a newcomer.
White Noise 2 comes out of the gate with a really strong showing. While it doesn't have a ton of story or lore, its investigators and creatures are immediately different and interesting when compared to other similar titles.
Furthermore, the complexity of the matches is ramped up. Not only do investigators have their own stats, but creatures have a wide range of abilities beyond simple attacks. Additional upgrades and items are earned as you play and level up, giving you the chance to unlock more creatures and more investigators.
Some unique elements that immediately stood out for me, was the clever use of light and darkness to defend against the creatures, the clue-based objectives, and the sanity mechanic.
These elements helped create an experience that allows for deep strategy, while also keeping things in balance. The creature is not all-powerful, but it does have several tricks up its sleeve.
One of the main issues with other multiplayer horror titles, is often the fact that the other players have no means of effectively defending themselves beyond stealth and creating obstacles for the creature.
Here, in White Noise 2, being able to stun and even temporarily banish the creature with light (at least a few times), gives the investigators some wiggle room and makes the game feel more balanced as a result.
Playing as a creature, I felt powerful, but not invincible. Playing as an investigator, I felt capable, but also terrified. It's a system that really worked for me as the premise for a strong horror title.
With positive first impressions in place, let's talk about the mechanics that you'll experience each match, and whether they hold water for the long run.
Tangible Progression Combines With Solid Mechanics
During any given match, White Noise 2 tasks the investigators with finding clues scattered throughout the map that take on various forms. They must do this while the creatures stalks them, seeking to end all of their lives.
Clues come in the form of tapes, books, and simple puzzles that you'll need to solve. There's a nice variety here, and it makes each match feel unique as a result.
While looking for clues, the investigators must also watch their sanity levels. Staring at the creature or looking at one of its idols will drain your precious sanity.
Your only weapon against the creature is light. You'll have a flashlight to start that needs batteries to work. Managing your battery level while also trying to stay quiet and avoid sprinting immediately adds tension to your exploration.
Even if you're playing with a group of people, it's easy to get lost or separated from the group. There are a few different variations that you can choose from, including a single player mode if you want to try and survive against the creature by yourself.
Standard mode allows you to play with up to four investigators total and one creature, or you can try your hand at an A.I. Creature with varying difficulty levels.
I played several matches with a full team and a few more with myself and one other player against an A.I. Creature. Both were fun, but I will say the smaller team added a lot more tension to the gameplay.
Another unique mechanic, is the ability for dead players to return as ghosts that can assist the living players. They can freely explore the level, point out clues, and even destroy idols that are the creature's eyes and ears.
This added ability for the investigators does give them more power than you would expect, but in the right hands, the creatures still have plenty of tricks up their sleeves. Their abilities often allow them to stalk, deceive, and otherwise outmaneuver the investigators.
Each match contributes to your overall progression and level, which leads to new creatures, new items, and new investigators. This is another key factor for me that gives me a reason to keep coming back.
During my play sessions, the game showed me how many players were online and that number was smaller than I expected. Even so, I hadn't any trouble jumping into a game with a full team. Worst case scenario, you can always play with friends or even alone.
I hope to see the community stay strong with this one, though, as a full team is the best way to play. What I think White Noise 2 nails the most, aside from strong mechanics and great progression, is the true sense of horror.
The fewer people I had, the more tension rose all around me. The game's maps are varied and offer plenty of tight corridors, as well as open spaces. With only my flashlight to light the way, the terror was palpable, and that's where White Noise 2 really won me over from a gameplay perspective.
Grotesque Creatures and Smart Environmental Design
White Noise 2 is a good looking game. While the investigators have a kind of uncanny valley look to them, the creatures and environments are standout hits. The idols they spawn are also fleshy masterpieces that have a sickly gleam to them in the reflection of your flashlight.
Environments have great variety, offering underground labyrinths and haunting estates in equal measure. Everything is steeped in darkness and mystery, but it makes for memorable matches and constant unpredictability.
When you boil it all down, White Noise 2 is perhaps the best asymmetrical multiplayer horror experience thus far on the PS4. It's a great combination of deep and interesting mechanics, with awesome monster design, and a true sense of terror.
If you have a friend or several who are willing to jump in with you, this is the scariest night of multiplayer you can find on the PS4, and one I highly recommend.
Final Score: 9.0/10
A copy of White Noise 2 was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 11/3/17