The horror genre has evolved greatly over the years. So much so that at times it’s almost unrecognisable. Consequently, whenever I play a horror title with a classic approach, I struggle to put it down. This is exactly what happened when I was given White Day: A Labyrinth Named School to review. This remake of the 2015 title will thrill old and new players alike.
Developed by Sonnori and published by PQube Limited, this is a first-person horror title. Moreover, it comprises plenty of stealth elements and classic puzzle mechanics. Alongside this, there is a branching story that ensures multiple endings and plenty of replay value. If you enjoy your horror games without clichéd jump scares, then this will tick many boxes.
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is creepy as hell.
If you’ve ever watched The Ring or The Grudge, you’ll be familiar with White Day: A Labyrinth Named School’s approach. With creepy images and sordid messages at its core, this is a dark and eerie experience. What’s more, the suspenseful and uncomfortable stealth mechanics add drama to the proceedings.
You control Lee Hee-Min, a transfer student who is a bit of a loner. He has fallen for a girl who is out of his league, but this doesn’t deter him. When the opportunity arises, Hee-Min tries to surprise her with a box of chocolates. However, this was a big mistake. As he enters the school, the shutters crash behind him and a deadly game of cat and mouse begins. Will he be able to remain in the shadows, solve the problems, and escape with his life? Or will the demented and murderous janitor catch him and make him pay? Whatever happens, you’ll be on tenterhooks throughout.
Puzzles and plenty of challenges.
Though the concept behind White Day: A Labyrinth Named School isn’t complicated, the puzzles often are. With plenty of exploring to do, many items to find, and lots of clues to find, you are tested at all times. However, thanks to 4 different difficulty settings, you can adjust the gameplay to your liking. The easiest of these options allows you to “enjoy” the story with little challenge. Whereas, the hardest mode is gut-wrenchingly brutal.
To solve the many puzzles you face, you must find documents that contain cryptic clues. These often abstract items can be tough to decipher. Yet, once you understand their hidden meaning, it leads to a eureka moment that is rewarding and enjoyable. As each problem is solved, it opens up vast areas of the school. Here, you will explore darkened rooms and experience time-critical challenges. These are often stressful, uncomfortable, and tough to complete. But, with methodical thinking and a great deal of luck, you’ll be successful.
Fear, limited resources, and more fear.
What makes White Day: A Labyrinth Named School so brilliant is its survival aspects. With fear at the centre of everything it does, it will terrify you at every turn. The horrific game of cat and mouse leads to many uncomfortable moments. You’ll be merrily solving a puzzle and you’ll hear the jingling of the janitor’s keys. If he spots you, he’ll bludgeon you to death. Accordingly, you must avoid his gaze by creeping and hiding in the shadows.
This daunting mechanic fills you with dread! You’ll cower behind desks, in toilet stalls, or behind open doors. All the while, you’ll hear him shuffling beside you, as you hide in plain sight. Its idea was incredibly simple, but the execution was perfect as there was no reliance on jump scares or well-trodden ideas. What’s more, it complemented another key mechanic.
With limited healing resources, no weapons, and restricted save points, everything is against you. Subsequently, surviving this daunting world is easier said than done. As such, you must scour the world to find as much food and as many coins as you can. However, this leaves you open to being chased by the janitor. Therefore, it is a fine balance between exploring, hiding, and progressing the game. Only you can decide on the risks you are willing to take. But if you die and you haven’t saved your game, your progress will be lost.
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School looks dated.
I adored the creepy and often uncomfortable nature of the gameplay. However, White Day: A Labyrinth Named School has aged badly. Its dated imagery and grainy looks will be off-putting for many. Sadly, the developers have done little to modernise its finish, and this was disappointing. What was great, though, was the haunting cinematic. The ghastly apparitions that reside in the school will send shivers down your spine. These often confusing but eerie clips piece together the mysterious plot. Alongside this, I also enjoyed the claustrophobic and labyrinthine stage design. Subsequently, exploring the dank and dark world was tough and petrifying.
The nasty and unnerving atmosphere was enhanced by the excellent sound effects and music. It was incredible how much fear the sound of jangling keys can create. Consequently, the developers have done an amazing job with their soundscape. Unfortunately, though, this doesn’t extend to the god-awful acting. The wooden and often hammy delivery is laughable at best. If you can imagine a badly dubbed Asian film and multiple is ineptitude by 10, that’s how bad the acting is. Luckily, though, it’ll make you laugh more than disappoint you, so it doesn’t ruin the moment too much.
Another issue I had with White Day: A Labyrinth Named School was its control system. The often convoluted approach led to confusion and wasted time. A prime example is when you attempt to access your phone. More often than not, you’d go around the houses before accessing your messages. This was infuriating while impacting the immersive nature of the gameplay. What was also annoying was the use of a cursor. Sadly, it was slow and cumbersome and this made it difficult to use. If the developers made some adjustments to the control system, it would be vastly improved.
One aspect where this excels, however, is its replay value. Thanks to a large array of characters and the branching storyline, there are multiple endings to enjoy. As such, you can return to it multiple times to see each unique finale. What was also great was the ever-changing solutions to each puzzle. Subsequently, no playthrough is the same, and this keeps you on your toes while making you think.
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is a great horror title.
Despite its shortcomings, I loved White Day: A Labyrinth Named School. Because of its classic approach, excellent atmosphere, and fearful ways, it was brilliant. Yes, the graphics could have been better, as could the acting. However, these are minor things. Mostly, it is an excellent example of the genre and will be loved by its many fans. Accordingly, I recommend you buy it here! Can you explore the haunted and dank school and survive? Hide in the shadows, solve the puzzles, and get out alive.