There’s an eerie feeling they you’re being watched in White Day: A Labyrinth Named School. First released in Korea way back in 2001, and rebooted for PC and PS4, the first-person survival horror game wants you to feel trapped and fearful, and after few hours of gameplay that’s exactly how we felt creeping around its spooky corridors.
White Day is a special day in countries like Japan, China and Korea. Similar to Valentine’s Day, the boys or men are expected to give gifts to their sweet hearts. High school student Hee-Min Lee is new to Yeondu High School, but he’s already got his eye on one of the girls, So Young Han.
After she drops her diary, he decides to sneak into the school in the dead of night and return it to her locker along with some candies in order to gain her affection, but things don’t go according to plan.
Tales of evil spirits and murders have circulated for a while around the school, and now Hee-Min Lee is trapped in its dingy halls, where a possessed janitor and vengeful ghosts seek to cause him harm.
The school has been consumed by evil, and as you sneak around, interacting with objects and finding clues to progress, the janitor is on the hunt armed with a broom and ready to beat you to death.
Aside from his wild eyes and menacing laugh, what’s equally scary about this evil antagonist is that he never follows a set pattern – you know never when he’s going to show.
Hear the jangling of his keys in the distance and you know it’s time to run, but his unpredictable movements around the school leave you feeling anxious and on edge.
The story goes that the school used to be an old war hospital, and its tortured spirits haven’t moved on. The school is shadowed in darkness, which adds to the tension as you search around frantically for light sources that help illuminate clues and calm your nerves.
As gameplay switches between slow-paced exploration and moments when you’re running for your life, jump scares, character interaction and some increasingly bizarre events ensure that you’re never quite sure what will happen next.
White Day is very much like a classic horror game of old, where you search rooms for clues rifling through drawers and opening cupboards. Using items in your inventory to solve puzzles, surviving is a tricky affair as you move from one save point to the next frantically searching for health items along the way.
One of the first puzzles you encounter is typical of the genre. There appears to be nowhere out from a section of the school where all doors are locked. However, a pair of step ladders in the toilet and a cutting tool you find in a drawer tell you all you need to know. All you need to find out now is where to use them!
Then things get much trickier as you use the map to navigate the school’s many rooms picking up items and reading through notes which often provide clues as to what to do next as you attempt to work out riddles and combinations needed to discover hidden items that allow you to progress.
More of a psychological horror rather than a gore-fest, White Day aims to put you on edge rather than shock you with its violence or constant scares (though plenty of these do exist!).
Discover ghost stories in books and documents that build up your feeling of fear, and you’ll soon be opening every door with caution.
Though you may have escaped the janitor, sometimes hiding in the dark is just as frightening as evil lurks in every corner around the school!
With various difficulty levels that go right up to Hell level, White Day aims to challenge. On the easy level, expect SMS text to provide clues, but in Hell expect to rely solely on your own survival skills and ability to solve some tricky puzzles as ghosts get more aggressive and health potions get rarer. Even the combination puzzles in the game change to stop you from using walkthroughs!
Documents are littered around the school containing secrets and tips as you attempt to work your way out and away from the evil janitor, while drawers and desks hold various objects, such as felt tip pens that allow you to save at specific bulletin boards.
This is very much classic survival horror game fare as you examine notes meticulously and try and work out what your items could be used for.
Interaction with characters give you branching conversation options, and could have a grave impact on relationships with your fellow students as you race against the clock to help them survive.
We’ve not progressed far enough to see that impact as yet, but with nine different endings on offer it’s clear that your decisions could have big consequences on the final outcome.
Check us out playing White Day – the first 30 minutes.
The voice work in White Day is impressive, which isn’t always the case with games that were produced in a different language. The cast of characters are believable and do a great job at adopting their various personalities, though we personally preferred switching to the original Korean language with English subtitles, which made it feel slightly more authentic.
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is shaping up to be a tense affair. With a clever combination of typical horror game audio effects, such as footsteps and heavy breathing, and the visual impact of a creepy school that comes to life with ghouls, we couldn’t take our eyes off the screen during our first few hours.
Though some of the puzzles had us scratching our heads and itching to search online for a walkthrough guide, survival game purists will be glad to hear that White Day is set to test you to your limits and deliver some bum-clenching scares along the way.
Stay tuned for the release of White Day: A Labyrinth Named School on August 22 on PC and PS4.