Blanc

Review: Blanc

I love cozy games. It’s a welcome change to play games like Blanc that tell a story of friendship, exploration, family, and love, without hours of dialogue or combat and violence. It’s a quiet and simple experience that jumps off the screen with its excellent art style and co-op gameplay that nearly anyone can fall in love with.

Blanc follows the journey of a wolf cub and a fawn stranded in a vast, snowy wilderness. They’ll have to work together in an unlikely partnership to find their way home in this hand-crafted, emotional co-op adventure game.

Family First

Blanc begins with a lone, young wolf cub and a timid and gentle fawn that are both separated from their families. At first, the two aren’t so sure about each other, after all their history doesn’t exactly lay out a “besties forever” kind of vibe. You as the player, or players, control each of them as they walk opposing paths down a snowy landscape. This is the setting of Blanc. Despite being in the middle of a blistering winter, it still feels cozy and welcoming because of the gentleness and kindness given off by the music, the two main characters, the art, and those you meet along the way. Your task in Blanc is to meet up with your families by any means possible, while the two learn to work together. The entire story is void of any text or speech, it’s just you and the animals. And that is where the gameplay comes in.

Side By Side

There are two main ways to play through Blanc solo, or with a partner in co-op. In each scenario, one Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controller represents each of the animals. The left Joy-Con is the wolf cub and the right Joy-Con is the fawn. The controls themselves are quite simple as well with just the joysticks as movement, with the four shouder buttons acting as actions like jumping up and down from ledges and pushing items. I began my playthrough with my partner; she’s not a gamer but has most recently dipped her toes into the Animal Crossing craze of 2020.

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The simplicity and the charm of the game were an immediate plus in her mind. We played through about half of the story stages and afterwards she told me she loved how calming and cute the experience was. Then I played solo for the remainder of Blanc. The controls still work the same, but I was now left to approach much of the movement like a twin-stick shooter. My mind had a tough time wrapping around the simultaneous controls at times, but that’s on me, and even when it did happen it never discouraged me from trekking on through the winter wonderland.

Throughout the adventure, there are small puzzle elements that make up the majority of the game. They range anywhere from counter-balancing on wooden beams to get over gaps or deep snow, to pushing through strong winds with new friends you’ve met along the way. The puzzles within each area are varied and fun. The simplest tasks like pushing a log in order to traverse to a new area, or using the fawn as a make-shift stepping stool to get their new friend to a higher place; it’s all fairly simple but in the best possible way. Blanc isn’t here to tease your brain and have you take out a pen and paper in order to progress. I loved how just like the characters within the game, the developers also made me feel like they wanted me to go on this journey.

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Everything in Blanc is manageable and welcoming to gamers from all walks of life and experience. Whether it be the simple mechanics or the mild traversal elements, it’s all there to engross you in the snowy world of friendship and family.

Black and Blanc and Charm All Over

Blanc may have had the same influence on you as it did on me, it’s a striking game. The choice to go with the black-and-white aesthetic is bold, but it works! Just looking at screenshots and videos of the game, it’s easy to see how unique it looks. It also uses a very sketch-like pencil drawing approach that looks like doodles on paper coming to life. I also applaud the developers for creating a simpler black-and-white look, and never losing the player in the landscape. I was always able to tell where my characters were and where I needed to go. It seems easy, but I doubt it ever was.

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The music is also something me and my wife particularly enjoyed. It is filled with calming string and wind instruments, perfectly fitting to the type of game and world you’re playing in. Encompassing that is some great sound design as well. It’s another small feature that can easily be overlooked, but the gusting winds, the crunching of the snow, and the “conversations” between the animals bring the whole package together beautifully.

Verdict

Blanc gave me that much-needed cozy feeling I craved this February. It’s a wonderfully crafted game that can be enjoyed solo or with a partner. Either way, the loving story and hand-crafted environments and animals are a great way to spend your time. With a smaller price tag and run time than many games out there, I think it’s an excellent way to game this season. Plus, if you have someone to play it with, Blanc creates the perfect excuse to turn on your Switch this Valentine’s Day and experience something special.

Recommended

[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: Switch

Blanc
Summary
Liked
Excellent art style
Simple, but fun gameplay for solo and co-op
Touching and emotional story
Didn't Like
Sometimes hard to see the next thing to complete