Image: Casus Lundi/IGDB

‘Blanc’: a charming if slight adventure

There are a few things a game can do to make me give it a go. If it’s a puzzle game, if it boasts a cute main character, or if the visuals are unique, then I’m likely to pick up a game – and in Blanc, we have all three. It’s exactly my sort of experience, which makes it all the sadder that beneath the charm there’s little to this game, making recommending it a tough time.

Control-wise, this game is clearly designed to be a co-op experience – although things are certainly doable on your own, I imagine the experience would have been better with a friend. You use the two controllers, with one analogue stick and shoulder buttons moving a fawn, and the other a wolf, as well as jumping and running through the environments (this is the co-op mode, which is bizarrely easier for a single player than the single-player controls). The idea is that the duo work together on a quest to find their families, helping each other along the way.

You also help other animals along the way, and although these interactions are really rather slight, they’re sweet enough to do the job. This is one of the overarching issues with the game, but everything is so thinly-written it’s hard to really achieve a major level of emotional investment. Blanc is the kind of game where you want to be engaged by the characters and the narrative, yet neither is really there outside of some really sweet moments. It’s a charming time, but I wanted to care more about what was happening than I did.

[It] feels like a real labour of love on the part of developers Casus Ludi, but there’s just not very much to the experience

Blanc immediately caught my eye because of its art style – the game is entirely black and white, an aesthetic that is instantly gorgeous and remains so throughout the playtime (take a look at the picture at the top of the article and see what I mean). Everything feels alive and intricate, and the way that the style lends to shifts from 2D to 3D is brilliant. It’s such a picturesque game, really like experiencing a storybook as much as a video game. This effect is compounded by the music – a combination of grand orchestral tunes and intimate solos – and sound design that evokes the natural world.

How much you enjoy Blanc depends on your love for the art-style, because the actual content of the game is incredibly slight. You’re meant to solve puzzles to progress, but they’re so simple they never really hold you up, and this is all that the game offers. It’s so noticeable that (even though the runtime is really short), puzzles and ideas start to be repeated in the second half when they weren’t overly tough in the first place. A game that’s barely two hours long should not feel underdone and repetitive, and Blanc sadly does.

It’s sad to write a negative review of a game like Blanc because it feels like something that I should, on paper, love. It’s a beautiful and charming game that feels like a real labour of love on the part of developers Casus Ludi, but there’s just not very much to the experience. Although Blanc is a pleasant enough time, it’s a slim one that I wished would have been more substantial. If you want to spend a few hours gaming with a loved one, give Blanc a go – otherwise, I’m in two minds about that recommendation.


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