Silver Falls: White Inside Its Umbra is Sungrand's fond farewell to the beloved Wii U console. Although it launched alongside the Wii U port of Silver Falls: Undertakers, White Inside Its Umbra is really Sungrand's true love letter to the Wii U. It was built specifically for the Wii U, and because of how it uses the Wii U's key features, it will probably always stay exclusive to Wii U as it's not really a game that could work on other consoles without totally changing the design and feel of the experience. With three difficulty settings - no enemies, normal enemies, and World 8 Mario enemies - this game has a very approachable story mode for players of all skill and patience levels. All screenshots are courtesy of Sungrand.
The story mode of White Inside Its Umbra is survival horror with a touch of walking sim. You play as Bjorna, a young woman whose cousin, Ken, has been lost in the woods around Silver Falls for two weeks. Together with a search party from town, you search the woods at night for your missing cousin. As is often the case in Silver Falls, mysterious and dangerous creatures stalk the woods, though, so cougars and bears are the least of your worries in the woods this night. As you trek through the woods, you'll have to contend with a multitude of enemies, twisting paths and dead ends, and a depleting smartphone and flashlight battery. Even when you have a charge, your light and the sounds from your smartphone can alert enemies to your presence; hope you've got some ammo. You control the flashlight and your weapon with the Wiimote and move with either the D pad on the Wiimote or with a Nunchuck depending on what you choose. The smartphone is controlled by the gamepad, and it's at the heart of the experience. There are invisible enemies that can only be seen with the camera app, strong enemies that can only be hurt after being weakened with a special phone app, a UV blaster app that can drive off enemies, a metal detector app, a GPS app to help you orient and navigate, and minigames including Pony Petter which featured in Sungrand's first weekly competition (a competition I placed 2nd in, by the way, and won Maverick D. Moose as an exclusive playable character in another game mode).
In addition to the story mode, you've got the "Zero Chapter" and Frontier Hunters. Zero Chapter is straight walking sim and entirely to help you get a feel for the world in the daylight with no enemies as well as to give some lore and character information as you meet folks walking through the woods. In Zero Chapter, you play not as Bjorna but as a random out-of-towner visiting to hike; "you" in Silver Falls, if you will. The super cool thing about Zero Chapter is that it supports the balance board for movement. You can use the same two control scheme options from story mode to move if you want, but if you have a balance board, you can use it to move; leaning forward moves forward, leaning left moves left, etc. This was supposed to be included as a control scheme in story mode, too, so that you could use the balance board, gamepad, and Wiimote all at once, but Sungrand had to remove it from the story mode for safety concerns, apparently feeling it was a risk of folks' getting startled and falling and injuring themselves or something along those lines. Hella lame, I know. Maybe someone will find a way to trick the game into letting you use the balance board in story mode? Unity on 3DS and Wii U are notoriously buggy and unpredictable, after all...
The last game mode, Frontier Hunters, is probably my favorite. It's what gives the game the real value for play hours, and it's also the multiplayer mode. Frontier Hunters is a mission-based rail shooter lightgun-style multiplayer mode. Between one and four players (but trust me, you need more than one) can use Wiimotes to blast monsters as you are moved through a level. Think House of the Dead or Area 51. Each playable character has their own weapon proficiencies and unique Skill Wheels, and thanks to my finishing Sungrand's first competition in the top five, I get to use the eldritch moose god, Maverick D. Moose. He's actually just the town's mascot, but I unilaterally decided in the Silver Falls Discord server that he's actually an ancient eldritch god who protects the town from the worst of the supernatural horrors lurking in the woods. Find some friends, grab some Wiimotes, and get to monster blasting.
White Inside Its Umbra can feel a little pricey for a digital Wii U title at $25.99 if you're just looking at the story mode, but the game is so much more than that. Just like how Guardians and Metal Exterminators's "main" game modes are a tiny fraction of the content and Frontier Guardians is the real draw, Frontier Hunters is the real meat of White Inside Its Umbra. There are nods to other games in the Silver Falls series that longtime fans will notice and appreciate, but if this is your starting point, it's a great one. There's a lot of content here with Frontier Hunters, and there's more coming in a future update. It was unfortunately only available on the North American Wii U eShop, but with the eShop closed, that's kind of a moot point. It's almost certain never to be ported to any other system, so go head and bust out your pirate hat.
My Rating - A
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.