What is White Day: a labyrinth named school?
Set in a high school in Korea, White Day: a labyrinth named school is a first person horror game designed to send a shiver down your spine. You take on the role of Lee Hui-min, a student who sneaks into the school at night to leave a "White Day" surprise (a kind of second Valentine's day) for the girl of his dreams, Han So-young. However, no sooner has he set foot in the school than a shutter slams closed behind him, trapping him inside. With a storm raging outside, and paranormal spirits stirring inside, it's up to you to navigate your way through the school's labyrinthine corridors, as you take on the many ghosts that inhabit the school, avoid the psychotic janitor, and try to find your way out alive.
How do you play White Day: a labyrinth named school?
Like many horror games, White Day is a game that mixes point and click style puzzles with a foreboding sense of pressure. With no weapons or combat, the game plays out like one big escape room, as you make your way around the school, and come across many a locked door, having to search far and wide to figure out how to open them. From handy notes hidden in drawers in classrooms, to unusual items you'll need to find a way to use, you'll be pulling up floorboards, counting medals in order, and examining a set of screwdrivers to find a code written on the bottom.
The pressure here comes in the form of the janitor, who patrols the school at night, looking for young delinquents like yourself. The only problem is, rather than giving you a rap across the knuckles, he instead carries a baseball bat, and prefers to pummel the kids he finds to death. Carrying a torch that lets him spot you even at the other end of a corridor, you'll need to keep an ear open for the telltale jangling of his keys - and if you hear them, run, because if he catches you, you won't live to tell the tale. As such, most of your time with White Day will be spent creeping around school while crouching, exploring its rooms by only the dim glow of a lighter, as you try to ensure the janitor can't find you...
How easy is White Day: a labyrinth named school to pick up and play?
With a range of five difficulty levels on offer (the hardest of which is only available after completing the game), you can scale the challenge in White Day to suit, both in terms of the persistence (and deadliness) of the janitor, and the amount of hints you'll receive. On the easiest difficulty (Very Easy), not only will a small eye icon will appear when the janitor is nearby, but he'll also move slower (making him easier to escape), and you'll be able to take a lot more hits from him. While you're meant to receive more hints to help with puzzles on Very Easy, in practice, there doesn't tend to be too much in the way of hand holding going on, as you're left to scour the school for documents and hints, before trying to piece together what you know to figure out a code, or find the next key. On Normal and up, you'll lose the hints for the puzzles altogether, while the janitor becomes much more deadly, and more persistent when he thinks you're nearby. Even on easy, though, you'll regularly find yourself having to leg it from the janitor, or hide in the toilets for minutes on end until you're sure he's gone - and you can never take more than a few hits from him.
With a limited amount of manual saves, you'll need to gather felt tip pens around the school, and then use them on notice boards to save your game - something which forces you to think long and hard about when and where you want to save. Leave it too long, and getting killed by the janitor might set you back a long way - although the game does also sometimes use a checkpoint system, to ensure you don't lose too much progress. Some sections also force you to work against a strict time limit in order to solve a puzzle. With little in the way of hints, you'll have to scour the school, and work to figure out the game's often complex puzzles with the clock ticking down.
In terms of accessibility, White Day is fully subtitled, and for the most part is fully voiced. However, the lengthy documents you pick up are delivered with text only, and are needed in order to solve the game's many puzzles.
While it may be a horror game, there's surprisingly little in the way of truly mature content in White Day: a labyrinth named school. With no bad language and no sexual content, the main thing to keep in mind in White Day is the game's violence. One scene shows the school janitor pummelling a student baseball bat until he turns limp, while another sees a character getting stabbed in the chest with a knife. As the game's played from a first person perspective, you don't see the effects of attacks that are performed on you, but you do see splatters of blood at the side of the screen. Similarly, there are plenty of jump scares here - colliding with one ghost makes an incredibly creepy ghost girl's face pop up on screen, while some lockers you open will have a disfigured human-like figure shoved into them, that screams in your face.
Format Reviewed: PC