Survival horror is one of the more unique genres, since they work against what is typically seen in games. Instead of being the hero who does the impossible or posses a unique ability, the main characters are often an everyman. Often times they’re too weak to save the day, making their adventure about living to the next day. Among the most interesting is White Day: A Labyrinth Named School. Being a remaster of a classic game, White Day: A Labyrinth Named School brings some thrills and chills to an otherwise mundane world. With this being said, is there enough to make it stand out or does the simple set up make for an underwhelming experience?
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School manages to have little in terms of story, but lots in terms of lore. The story itself follows Hee-Min-Lee, an average transfer student, who wants to return a book that So-Young left behind. To do this he comes to school at night, a choice that he will soon regret, as both this and otherworldly forces try to bring about his end.
The story segments have a small bit of dialogue, with the multiple choices and endings. Endings are based off what you do and how you react, giving weight to player responses. Most of them, at least at the start, are fairly harmless and stand to fill in some of the world or just how the characters see one another. There is a certain air of mystery with each characters, that is just believable enough to make them good. It’s easy to see this character being that petty or similar rumors fly in real life.
Most of the interesting bits come from lore found on various documents. Some of these will reveal secrets, like one mentions a broken floorboard, which you can find, break and find another document, with others mention ghost stories. Figuring out the stories will, in many cases, reveal a new scare. Some of these are better than others, like opening the locker to find the girl is not terribly interesting the first time and becomes comical after the 30 or so times, but others are much better.
Where White Day: A Labyrinth Named School really starts to shine is the set up and execution. Needless to say, this is not a big budget game, so they make the absolute most with very little. In fact, the simplicity is part of what makes White Day: A Labyrinth Named School so scary.
At its core, White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is basically a bunch of rooms that resemble what, I can only imagine, a Korean school looks like. Most places don’t have monsters to fight, demons to kill or anything besides a puzzle and many some desks or lockers. The fact it is so realistically boring, in that I could go break into a school and it likely wouldn’t be terribly different experience, makes all the unusual sounds so terrifying.
Be it a creak, crackle or some other sound, there is a constant expectation of something otherworldly to appear out of nowhere, that very rarely does. In fact, the most terrifying force, at least for the early parts, is a janitor with a bat. His presence adds most of the tension, as your main goal, besides solving the puzzle, is to avoid alerting him.
This can be done by listening to sounds, particularly the sound his keys make, or looking for his light. At first it might sound easy to avoid him, but on higher difficulties you can alert him at ridiculous ranges. Thankfully lower difficulties make him easier to avoid, at the cost of finding fewer ghosts, allowing most people the ability to make it through, assuming you can figure out the puzzles.
Like similar games, White Day: A Labyrinth Named School relies on cryptic clues, minimal explanation and clues to figure out the puzzles. Some can be easy, like a note might tell you where to find a key and you simply go there to find it, where as others give seemingly unimportant information that relates to something in the room needed to solve the puzzle. Best of all, key combinations and such are randomly generated, so it isn’t possible to find the code, die and simply enter the code. At most you might figure out the basic numbers needed to solve the puzzle, but they likely won’t be the same ones you died trying to retrieve.
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School might be a largely empty game about avoiding a janitor, some ghosts and other evil, but it stands out for these reasons. There is a certain amount of tension that comes from the unpredictable nature of the janitor, just like the shock of encountering a ghost or something else is constantly on your mind. More often than not the game is more in your head than on the screen, which makes it terrifying in its own way. Sure, it might not be what a Resident Evil fan is looking for, but if you enjoy puzzles and scary situations, White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is a strong choice.
[Editor’s Note: White Day: A Labyrinth Named School was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]White Day: A Labyrinth Named School Review,