31 August 2015

There is something to be said about a game that lurks in the depths of the Internet, a game so frightening that the developers had to make it less scary for people to finish it.

White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is a Korean horror game that was released in 2001 for mobile platforms. In 2005, it was ported over to the UK where it subsequently vanished after a few years. To find it anymore, you will have to dig through IndieDB for a modded version that allows it to be played in English; rest assured, the experience is worth it.

 

White Day

 

White Day has an amazing reputation for how frightening it truly is. If you pick the higher difficulties, the game promises to be even more frightening and abundant in its fear factor - it delivers, without any hesitation.

The story opens with a blank-faced young man entering the school at night to leave a present for his somewhat tsundere crush, as the tradition of White Day goes. Instead of finding a simple method to be romantic, the protagonist instead finds himself trapped in a school filled with horrifying spirits and a murderous, stalking janitor who makes his first appearance by beating a hapless person to death while the player watches. He's a pleasant fellow.

Now, the player, along with several females who are all there for their own mysterious purposes that unfold as the story progresses.

Now, down to what makes this game live up to its reputation. Ever hear of the golden rule of horror: "Atmosphere makes the game."? Well, the atmosphere here is lonely, tense and enough that the jingling of the janitors keys approaching will have you cowering under a desk. Indeed, White Day has an Amnesia like quality to it where hiding is sometimes the only option. Other times, with certain spirits and puzzles, you will be armed with something to move past them. Depending on what difficulty you choose, the game will have more generated scares and a time limit of midnight to escape before you must accept an immediate death.

 

 

Venturing through the game, the player will encounter lore about students who had lost their lives or suffered at the shool. It culminates in a very Shinto-style horror with seals, rituals and the pale, female ghosts with black hair hanging in their faces as they drag their horribly mangled bodies towards you. The dark history only adds to the tension and, admittedly, a very rich story drenched in mystery.

On first playthrough after a frustrating mod setup, I quickly saw why it had a reputation. It blew my critical checklist for things that actually frighten me out of the water and I even had to stop a few times to collect myself. If it weren't for the inaccessibility and occasional glitches of the game, I'd say that it is a dead ringer for an example of the evolution of true horror.

If you are curious, and very brave, I highly recommend giving it a try for yourself. A link to the IndieDB modded version can be found here: White Day: A Labyrinth Named School.

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