White Day: A Labyrinth Named School

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School Game Poster Image
Scare-focused game too frustrating to be fun, enjoyable.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Collaborating, listening, helping each other for mutual survival are all central themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You play a high school student, but little is known about you. Character story development up to you based off decisions made in conversation.

Ease of Play

Depending on difficulty you opt for, varying degrees of frustrating elements including jump scares to distract you and enemies who have an unfair awareness of where you're hiding. You have to be fast, stealthy, precise most of the time.

Violence

If players are caught by possessed janitor, an animation shows central character getting struck with a bat, resulting in blood-splatter effects across screen. One sequence shows a student being bludgeoned to death; another shows a ghost stabbing student in chest. References to suicide, but nothing shown.

Sex

Downloadable, unlockable costumes let some female characters trade their school uniforms for bikinis.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

You can find a pack of cigarettes, but not smoke them.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is an updated re-release of the 2001 first-person Korean survival horror game. You play a high school student dealing with a romantic gesture gone awry; he finds himself trapped in the school overnight and discovers some of his peers also inside, each of them slowly realizing the school is haunted. There's some violence with degrees of brutality behind it: Ghosts will stab you, and a janitor will pummel you with a bat. Downloadable costumes let you swap out some of the girls' uniforms for bikinis. There's no objectionable language, but you can find documents making references to students who have committed suicide. You can find cigarettes but can't smoke them.

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What's it about?

In WHITE DAY: A LABYRINTH NAMED SCHOOL, you play as Lee Hui-Min, a new transfer student to a Korean high school. Your crush accidentally left her diary behind, so you use that as an excuse to sneak onto campus after-hours to return the diary and leave a gift for White Day -- similar to Valentine's Day in the west. Trapped inside your school at night, you and your fellow classmates must carefully explore the twisting corridors by torchlight, hiding from possessed stalkers and running from evil spirits as you try to escape. Otherwise, the rest of the story is left up to you by choices you make in conversation with the other students leading to a number of different endings.

Is it any good?

This remake of a 2001 horror game is ruined by its extreme difficulty, its frustrating gameplay, and random trial-and-error sequences. For what it is, White Day: A Labyrinth Named School still stands as an unusual horror game unlike anything else being made today. Intriguingly, this game bucks the trend of most horror games and takes a page from the old Alien movies, understanding that it's far more scary to anticipate what's around the corner than to know full well. This game is very clearly meant to be played alone with the lights off and headphones on. Not only are you completely defenseless, but when you're caught by the Big Bad (a cursed janitor), you have little chance of surviving. When you're not being pursued by him and lucky enough to get away, you're scouring the school for documents, clues, and tools. 

This can make for some pretty unsettling and, honestly, frustrating moments. Unless you play on the easiest difficulty, the janitor is simply too overpowered with unfair advantages, making the game almost unplayable. There seems to be an expectation that players have this game memorized, since the janitor can find you during cut-scenes and while solving time-sensitive puzzles. One could argue this makes the game that much scarier, but it also makes it spiteful. This is exacerbated by sequences that give you a break before you "fight" a boss and focus all your energy on them. But some moments require tons of trial and error to realize what you did wrong and where, because if you take a single hit you die and have to try all over again. It's unfortunate there's so much in the way preventing you from being able to play and get better at what's here, because everything else is a refreshing change of pace. Dialogue sequences with other students (though not translated as well as they could have been) branch in interesting ways and reflect the way conversations really work. When you're by yourself, you certainly feel hunted. Unfortunately, you'll have little time to enjoy that feeling, because you'll be smacked down and forced to try again. There are a lot of promising ideas at play here, but it just doesn't quite gel in a way that makes you want to stick with it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why thinking with your heart instead of your head can backfire. Do you have stories where, in hindsight, you should've thought things through more?

  • Discuss friendship. This game highlights the importance of friends, both in terms of survival but also in how we simply need others to have rich and full lives, but why is making friends difficult for some and easier for others? Do you think relationships among teens differ from those among adults? 

Game details

Themes & Topics

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