White on PC
Blanc tells the story of two lost animals – a black wolf cub and a white fawn – separated from their families. This unlikely duo will have to work together to make it home. Following their families’ snowy footsteps, the fawn and cub make their way over frozen landscapes, through quiet towns, and across narrow icy bridges.
Along the way, they’ll explore their environment, solve puzzles, and even help other lost baby animals. This sweet little indie game is stress-free and surprisingly touching, offering cozy co-op play just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Simple Controls, Challenging Puzzles
The cub and fawn each have their own strengths. The fawn can jump higher than the cub and shove large objects to make platforms for them to climb on. On the other hand, the cub can squeeze through tight tunnels and bite through ropes to create makeshift bridges out of fallen logs and signs for the fawn to climb.
Teamwork is essential in White, especially when they have to get around tough obstacles. Heavy doors are impossible for either character to open on their own, for example, but when the fawn pushes and the cub pulls, they make light work of it. And if they encounter something too high for the wolf cub to jump on, the fawn can offer a helpful boost.
The game offers solo play as well as local and online co-op. Controlling the two critters in solo mode is more intuitive than I anticipated. The game recommends controller play even on PC, but I used the keyboard controls without too much trouble. However, to get started, I had to change the default keyboard format (from ZQSD to WASD) in the game settings. For some reason, I also had to redo these settings every time I exited and restarted the game, which was tedious but not the end of the world.
Aside from the settings struggles, controlling two characters on one keyboard was surprisingly easy. One is controlled with the left hand using WASD, while the other is moved with the right hand using the arrow keys. Each character only has two additional action keys – one to run/jump and one to interact – using the V and B keys on the left hand and Enter and Alt on the right.
This feels a bit like playing piano and takes a bit of getting used to, but you rarely have to move both characters at the same time. In most situations, you can maneuver one character into position and leave them waiting while you get the other one into place. One chapter has both characters sliding down a snowy hill simultaneously, but because there’s only one way to go, controlling them is easy enough.
The puzzles, on the other hand, can be surprisingly challenging. The cub and fawn have to manipulate their environment to get around. The solution is usually fairly obvious, like using a plank of wood as a seesaw to get up onto a higher platform. But sometimes, the snowy landscape can hide essential clues.
I spent a decent bit of time running back and forth, looking for something – anything – to interact with. But there’s no way to fail the puzzles and no unhelpful objects lying around to distract you or throw you off the trail. I never spent more than about 15 minutes confused, though. The puzzles are just challenging enough to be fun but not so hard as to be frustrating.
There are no words or complicated graphics, but Blanc still manages to tell a story that tugged at my heartstrings from start to finish. The sound design likely has a lot to do with that, with soft, expressive piano music and adorable animal noises that forge an instant connection to the fawn and cub as they call out to each other across the landscape.
But this short-but-sweet story is profoundly emotional. Along the way to finding their families, the fawn and cub help other baby animals, including four adorab(ly irritating) little ducklings that keep getting tossed about by the wind. There are no tragedies in this story, but a couple of near-misses made me gasp out loud. And the heartwarming ending had me crying happy tears.
In just under four hours, Blanc stirred me in ways no game has before, and it managed to do it without a single word of dialogue. What I thought was going to be an adorable cooperative puzzle game was an unforgettable emotional experience. This magical little indie game is truly one of a kind, and I’m so glad I got to play it.
Reviewer: Juniper Finch | Awards: Editor’s Choice | Copy provided by Publisher.
- Cooperative puzzles for solo, local co-op, and online play are just challenging enough.
- Simple, uncomplicated controls make for intuitive gameplay.
- Incredible sound design conveys a delightfully emotional story.
- Beautiful hand-drawn graphics are cozy and relaxing.
- Keyboard/controller settings require some fiddling.
- Snowy landscape can make it hard to tell where to go next.
Feb. 14, 2023