REVIEW: White Day: A Labyrinth Named School (PS4)

Sep
22

REVIEW: White Day: A Labyrinth Named School (PS4)

Ready or not…here I come

Status: Released
Type: Single Player
Genre: Horror Adventure
Developer: SONNORI Corp
Publisher: PQube Limited,
SONNORI Corp
Release date: August 22, 2017

Back when I was not big on PC gaming, at a time when I actually did not even have a reliable source of wifi, I saw a playthrough of White Day: A Labyrinth Named School. I immediately binge watched the whole playlist as I absolutely loved the story and the atmosphere it built. Part of it was the YouTube personality, whom of which I still watch to this day, but the scares and the school felt real. I always wanted to play White Day myself, but I never really got around to it and I heard about the possible difficulties on getting it to run. So when I saw that a remake coming out, I just had to play it.

We take the place of Hee-Min, a recent transfer student to Yeondu High School. With his short time there, he developed a little crush on So-Young. As the following day will be White Day, Hee-Min has decided to give chocolates to So-Young. Just when he was about to, plans change as So-Young forgot her diary and Hee-Min can not just leave it for anyone to pick it up and riffle through it. Instead of giving them to her in person, it might be best to anonymously put the chocolates and her diary on her desk. Just as Hee-Min walks in, the clock strikes 10:00 pm, which happens to be when the school locks down. Locked in the school at night, which is scary by itself, something else is happening on this fated night.

This is where the player comes in as we are officially locked inside the school. But by ourselves? No. It becomes apparent early on that a few more students were locked inside, but with their own reasons. We don’t linger too long before you encounter Seong-a and Ji-hyeon and hear that So-Young is there exploring, as she shows up later on right before a boss. Each character has their own personality, mannerisms, and a way of speaking. Even if you were somehow unable to see their faces, you will know who was talking to you as they are all distinct. Interacting with them consists of a few things that will affect how they feel about you. You will get several encounters with them, thus several opportunities to get them to like or hate you. During conversations, you will be given two choices when it calls for Hee-Min to reply, one is more favorable than the other, and while you will more than often find yourself alone exploring, there are a few instances where they linger. So be careful where you touch them or their opinion for you may lower…and your face might have a painful encounter with a foot.

Seong-a, Ji-hyeon, and So-Young are not the only people locked inside the school. Yeondu High School has a dark past that it can not shake off. As rumors always conclude that the school was the site of many deaths in the past, whether these rumors are true or not is finally answered. All the ghosts that have died since the school opened are still present. There are 20 ghosts in all that you can encounter, all having their own haunting locations at the school. Some are tied to the story, some only appear in certain areas, and others need an item closely tied to them before they can appear. All of these ghosts appear in their respected ghost story throughout the school. However, to be able to encounter all of them you will need to play on hard mode. Most do appear on easier modes, but they have a rarer spawn chance, and few of them only appear on hard mode.

In fact, a lot of my favorite moments were connected to my ghost encounters. My favorite one has to be the Face Filled with Hatred, followed closely by the Girl with a Hidden Face. A lot of the scares from these ghosts have a good build up and it makes you wonder how they died, which you can read about if you find their ghost story. There is only one ghost that is more of a jumpscare, the floating ghost head that will repeatedly get you, as she will scream at you with her head blocking your view.

A select few have enough power, and have a necessary item, behind them to be bosses. These ghosts bar you from continuing until you figure out how they can be defeated. Most are timed, but all of them have their own puzzle to solve.

If this high school is so easy to sneak into, and the ghosts have certain conditions before they appear, then this makes the game simple to beat, right? Wrong. The school is very aware of the happenings going on and employed the Janitors to roam the halls. One Janitor in the Main Building and one Janitor in the New Building. With how the school is haunted, it comes at no surprise how the Janitors have something off about them as well. Holding a flashlight in one hand and a baseball bat in another, they will try to get you out of the school. The baseball bat is not for show, they will not hesitate to beat you to death.

There are telltale signs of the Janitor’s presence. The Main Building Janitor is easily heard by the constant jingling keys as he patrols and while you can barely hear it, he does have a limp. While the New Building Janitor whistles, he doesn’t so that the whole time he is patrolling. Once they have you in their sights they will blow their whistle and chase you till you either successfully hide or till you die. So let’s hope he did not see you go into that bathroom stall or walk right by the desk you are hiding behind.

Escaping a Janitor does not pose as much of a threat or hindrance to exploration until you get to the New Building.  Here is where you have to deal with the Janitor in that building and this is where the difficulty mode plays a significant part. Other than some ghosts not appearing or not appearing as frequently, it also alters the Janitors’ sight, hearing, and strength. Hits hit harder as you move up on the difficulty modes. On hard mode it can be brutal, especially if you start out on hard mode like I did. The Main Building Janitor is not as bad, you can generally get away from him easy enough, but the New Building Janitor is harder. This is mostly due to the New Building having a more open area where he can see you from across the way from any floor. This really hindered my exploration at some points as it will just turn into waiting around hoping that you will not be in front of his line of sight when you open the door. At one point for one of the last puzzles, I ran through it since I was so sick of waiting for the Janitor to get off the same floor. I had a very rare and scary moment when I opened a door on the ground floor and found the Janitor right there, I immediately shut it again yet somehow the Janitor did not see me.

 

How is this working?!?

I can only imagine what hell mode is like, but hard mode is enough for me.

I love the new look of everything. Everyone has their own distinct look while keeping their original look in some way. Their eyes may be my favorite part as they are very expressive and I loved how they moved along with what the character was saying. The only thing is that sometimes it might not look believable that they are touching something. In the beginning, when So-Young is holding a picture, it was obviously supposed to be the picture slightly moving due to the wind, but came off looking like it’s floating in her hand and she is not even gripping it.

Some of the ghost stories require you to search for various items scattered around, so it may leave you wondering how the inventory system fairs in regard to this.  Well, for those worried that you will have to drop items to make room for others, stop worrying! Your trusty backpack will be able to hold everything you grabbed. The only thing that is truly limited which effects the gameplay are pens and coins. Pens are used to save your game, which can be used at bulletin boards that contains a group of photos. However, there is a limit to your number of save slots, there are just six and it can be hard to decide which to overwrite, especially when you are going for other endings. If you are an achievement hunter, will play 40 times as you will need to get all endings on all difficulty modes. However, you do get a fair amount of autosaves.  Once you understand where they are, you can “abuse” it.

The coins will, unsurprisingly, allow you to buy health items. Sure, you can find health items laying around in classrooms or sinks, but at some point, you will find that you have one Soy Milk left in a dire situation. At least one Vending Machine will be in each building, whether it be by the entrance or the entrance to the floor. You will only be able to buy three items, with the price depending on how much it heals. Two healing items you will be able to find while exploring are Soy Milk, costing 1 coin giving you some slight healing and Instant Lunch costing 3 coins giving you moderate healing; and the one you will not be able to find is Coffee which costs 1 coin and gives a  slight (but more than Soy Milk) healing with a downside if you drink too many at once. There are two healing items that you will not be able to buy: Tranquilizers to cure dizziness and First Aid Kits that heal you fully, so stockpile these till you absolutely need them.

There are multiple endings: three for So-Young, two for Seong-a, two for Ji-hyeon, the game over route, and two bonus endings for the new Ji-min character. I do not blame anyone if they do not desire to replay the game nine times, let alone around 40 as getting them on different difficulties count as a different ending (even if it is the same one) for an achievement and an ending collection. I do recommend doing at least two playthroughs, one where you go down a So-Young route and one where you do not. Who you decide to stay with or run to affects what scenes you see and what information you are given. In fact, the actual labyrinth part of the game’s name only shows up if you follow one of them.

This also goes into the new character, Ji-min, that was introduced in this remake. You might have noticed some drawings on the walls and this is connected to this new character. To unlock her, you need to achieve one of the So-Young endings on Hard mode. Ji-min’s section of the game is good up to a certain point towards the end that it just becomes frustrating.

If you do not mind reading subtitles, I do recommend switching to the Korean voice actors. There are only a few English voice actors that do not work out, but the Korean voice actors are great. And even makes the ghosts that speak a little bit scarier.

For those who are familiar with the original game, you may notice that there are differences other than the updated graphics. One of the big differences is the number of ghosts that show up. All 20 ghosts were able to be put into the remake where in the original their only appearance may have been their ghost story. Along with this, some ghost stories were expanded upon or with one in particular changed slightly to bring in a specific character’s importance into focus with the story. The other changes are more cutscenes, more background music that can at some points take away from the atmosphere, the interaction with the world feeling more automated, more realistic sound effects, and some puzzle changes.

Overall

+ Improved and realistic sound effects
+ Revamped graphics
+ More ghosts, most of which are satisfying to encounter
+ Interesting background for each ghost, most of which was expanded upon
+ Replay value high, you can search for all the ghosts and ghost stories (some of which have you find various items scattered around)
+ Bringing back the horror of being locked in your school at midnight
+ Performance overall great with only a few hiccups

+/- Ji-min route is good up to a point towards the end
+/- Interaction with the character models and surfaces are sometimes not believable
+/- Can’t get the full experience unless you play on hard mode

– Patrolling enemies (Janitors) are still annoying and can easily hinder exploration/progression
– Background music can hinder the atmosphere in some situations
– Janitors can open locked doors and can clip through the bathroom stall door to hit you (which caused some of my deaths as the bat seem to connect to the character and thus alerting to the Janitor that I was there, getting me killed)
– Jumpscare head ghost
– Grindy achievements (ex. die 100 times, get all endings on all difficulty modes)

There really is a love/hate relationship with White Day: A Labyrinth Named School. A lot of things that were added or changed really work, but there are a fair share of other issues that don’t come off as well and sometimes I even felt something from the original was left out of the remake. You really appreciate how they worked on the Janitors and their patrol programming, yet at the same time, you wish the Janitors were not there. The background music that is almost constantly playing messes with the atmosphere but there are points where it helps. There are times where the game is unbearable but there are times where it is not. Despite this, I did enjoy my experience with White Day: A Labyrinth Named School. This is not for everyone, as not a lot of people will like the patrolling Janitors and that you can not see all of the ghosts on an easier mode. Just be aware of what this game brings to the table before buying as this love/hate relationship can easily lean toward the latter.

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About RipWitch

Witch of death hiding in a sea of modern gamers with a weakness for FMVs and Point & Clickers.

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