It’s spooky season! The evenings are getting dark earlier, the awful hot temperatures have finally left us. And I can officially crawl out from under my rock! Let’s kick things off with a game that has had many forms over the years; White Day: A Labyrinth Named School.
Some of you may recognise that name from recent years, however, some may actually recognise it from way back in 2001 when the original game was released. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
What is White Day: A Labyrinth Named School?
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is a cult classic Korean survival horror. The original 2001 game was developed and published by Sonnori, with the remake coming in 2015. The remake came from ROI Games and was directed and produced by the former Sonnori CEO, Lee Won-Sool.
Interestingly, the remake was first released on mobile as The School: White Day. In 2017, it was ported to Windows and PlayStation 4. In North America and Europe, this was handled by PQube. Arc Systems Work handled the Japanese release. Earlier this month, it launched on Nintendo Switch, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. I played on Switch.
On the eve of the gift-giving holiday White Day, new Yeondu High School student Hee-Min Lee slips into school to hide a box of candies for the girl of his dreams. But when the school shutters slam shut, he finds himself trapped in the building overnight. But that’s not all. Hee-Min Lee is being hunted by a killer janitor and haunted by the troubled souls of the dead.
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is definitely an interesting game, to say the least. Admittedly, it’s nothing new. Spooky school in the middle of the night. However, White Day does mix in a killer janitor alongside the ghosts, which I’ve got to give it props for. On the graphics standpoint, things are pretty standard. No complaints there. Another strong point comes up only in easy and very easy modes. The map in these modes pinpoints where you need to go.
After this point though, things kind of fall apart. Firstly, the gameplay. I still can’t fully put my finger on this, but the controls just did not feel right. The movement didn’t flow the way it should, interaction was shotty, and the camera was not great. Interaction response was also on the slow side.
White Day also makes use of QTEs (quick-time events) and the most inconvenient times. When this first happens, it’s in the first boss battle. It’s essentially just thrown in, with no warning. I couldn’t actually figure out how I kept dying originally. However, that isn’t my biggest grievance here.
A Labyrinth Named Saves
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School has a very interesting save system. Players need to pick up single-use pens along the way and sign bulletin boards to save. However, there are points where it doesn’t matter how many pens you have, you cannot save.
I am going to use an example here, so minor spoiler warning.
At a certain point, Hee-Min Lee eventually runs into his crush. After quick dialogue, a cutscene triggers. After this cutscene, the player must find 2 items. One of these is locked in a safe. A safe that has a randomly generated combination every time. You get a hint in the form of the numbers the code is made up from. It’s 4 digits, meaning there are 24 possibilities. It is also subject to change every time, even on very easy mode.
Problem is, if you die in the boss battle, you’re put right back to before the cutscene. You cannot save once you’ve viewed the cutscene. The next time you can save is AFTER the boss. So, if you get stuck with the boss, enjoy going back to the safe and having to guess up to 24 times to be able to open it.
Horror Queen seal of approval?
When I first started playing White Day: A Labyrinth Named School, I had a lot of hope. It had been on my list for a while, and I’m a sucker for Switch games, especially horror. I do also have this game on PS4, and it runs much better on that platform.
Some of the issues I had, like saving, are down to preference. If that kind of thing doesn’t bother you, then White Day: A Labyrinth Named School may be a solid game for you. Just not on Switch, I truly do not feel like it runs well on Switch.