Let’s all face it and get the facts on the table. When it comes to horror, sometimes the scariest things out there are the things foreign to us. American horror relies on gore with cheap monsters, and sometimes that just doesn’t work. That brings to our attention this Korean made horror game: White Day: A Labyrinth Named School.
Assuming the role of Hee-Min Lee, players sneak into their school after hours to drop off the journal of their love interest, So-Young Han, and leave a White Day gift for her. The best way to describe White Day to an American audience is the equivalent of Valentine’s Day, a most noble and romantic deed itself. Unfortunately for you, the player, something is terribly wrong with the school…
Right off the bat, I was deeply Impressed with the visual aspects of White Day. Set in an all too uncomfortable first person view, the game spends a decent amount of time teaching you the basics of survival from the start. Players can sprint, crouch, and interact with the world in measures I was not expecting, from toggling lights on in a classroom, to opening lockers and doors in a typical point-and-click fashion.
Atmospherically, White Day does a fantastic job of serving up late night high school horror, ala Corpse Party, and contains imagery akin to huge horror hits such as The Grudge. While being very “Urban Legends” like with its ghosts, the game is set in the early spring of 2001 (go ahead. Crank your K-Pop from the early 2000’s. It may make you feel better in this situation). The entire school is cast in eerie darkness, with long, foreboding hallways and classrooms that evoke paranoia, especially in a forced first-person perspective. Even worse, turning the lights on in these classrooms attracts unwanted attention, so more often than not you’ll be using a lighter to cast light in the cramped and claustrophobic rooms. A harrowing and nerve wracking situation in its own self.
One of the best things about White Day is that the game not only contains full English acting, but it also has authentic Korean voice acting. Sound design is phenomenal, with the music alone putting me in a state of physical unease, my gut turning as I explored the desolate and creepy school. Occasionally, you will run into NPC’s, some of whom give you things to do, such as climbing into an air vent to get keys from inside a locked classroom. While Hee-Min Lee is a silent protagonist, you do thankfully have the options of choosing Dialogue when interacting with certain characters, sometimes altering things in the game with your dialogue.
Although, NPC’s aren’t the only thing roaming these dark halls… The majority of threat in the game comes from the Head Janitor and his Assistants. Seemingly possessed, if they spot you, they will begin to chase after you, with whistles, and if they catch you, they will beat you with baseball bats. Don’t worry, though: typically, you can outrun them and can even hide in bathroom stalls, behind desks, or in classrooms to avoid them. Sometimes, the AI can be flawed, though, and will follow you into a hiding spot, essentially trapping you and forcing you into a game over, so make sure you have completely ditched the threat before hiding. Upon taking damage, you can heal by using food items. Money is scattered around the school, and with it, you can purchase snacks like Soy Milk and Packaged Meals to restore your health.
Among possessed Janitors, players also have to face more deadly threats in the form of Ghosts roaming the halls. These spectral shadows can creep up on you, barely visible, and if they make contact with you, they can deliver a somewhat cheap (albeit effective) screaming jumpscare that can damage the player.
White Day delivers a fantastic spin on survival horror. Players have to save their progress at bulletin boards, and can only save if they find felt tip pens. Once you use it, it is gone though, so the pressure of knowing when to save is present as you roam this uncomfortable school.
If you haven’t already played the mobile version from 2015, or even better, the original Korean release from 2001, now is the best time to do so. Despite some flaws in enemy AI, the constant threat is sufficient to raise your heart rate. After comparing it to the original, I can safely say the team of White Day has an amazing, scary and sturdy game on their hands that has stood the test of time while staying true to the original, and is ready to deliver a frightful wave of midnight ghost stories to a new generation of players. If they can survive them that is…
White Day Releases it’s haunting Spectres here in North America on August 22nd, in Japan on the 24th, and finally in Europe on the 25th, so be sure to grab it when it drops if you want a terrifying time in an Urban Ghost story.
The Yurei team would like to give a special Thank You to Dean Clark from GameTyrant, for giving us an Early Access code.
You can check him out at https://geektyrant.com/roster/ and also check out some of his articles at www.gametyrant.com
Dean Clark Article Highlight: gametyrant.com/news/we-happy-few-gets-major-content-boost-including-a-three-character-story-line