Horror Review

White Day: A Labyrinth Named School – Review

Introduction to a Frantic Labyrinth

First-person horror games are ten-a-penny these days, all of them trying to deliver on a classic formula in a variety of ways. White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is one such game and I went into it wondering how it could stand out in a crowded market. Let me start by saying that it definitely does not disappoint.

It was originally developed and released by the Korean developer Sonnori way back in 2001, but received the remake treatment for Windows and PlayStation 4 in 2017 and was published through PQube Limited. The remake has the same director as the original game and maintains the same general format as well. This has recently further been updated with the Ultimate Horror Edition, which includes the 41 costume DLC. Ever want to play a horror game in a swimsuit?
White Day - Ultimate Horror Edition


The opening cutscene gives off a peculiar impression. It struck me as a cheesy, cutesy love story at first, but the game quickly descends into genuine horror. You play as Lee Hi-min, a new student at the Yeondu High School. As I said, it all starts off fairly innocently, as Lee Hi-min notices a cute girl (Han So-young) who leaves behind her diary at a bench. Lee Hi-min returns to the school at night, to try and return Han So-young’s diary to her. This would turn out to be a naive and grave mistake, as you end up in the midst of a creepy school, riddled with terrifying ghosts straight out of Korean folklore. Oh, and there’s a murderous, baseball-bat wielding Janitor on your case all the way.

The story unfolds as you navigate through the school, interacting with other unlucky students trapped in the building and reading documents that you find to piece together a tale of suicide, murder and ancient spirits. There’s something really terrifying afoot in this school and it’s obvious the source of the ghastly goings-on here are dark and otherworldly.

The plot of the game is in keeping with the overall frantic pace, which is that mysteries and loose ends seem to be flying at you from different directions and the further you progress, the deeper the mystery runs. The school isn’t merely haunted, but it’s possessed! The building is a living and breathing space, providing a home to all sorts of denizens, from the aforementioned janitor to a weird ghost baby.

An aspect I really enjoyed about White Day’s story is the fact that some of the strands of the plot are based on rumours spread by students, but as the saying goes, there’s no smoke without fire and these rumours turn out to be based upon a far more sinister conspiracy than teen minds can conjure.

White Day - Secrets


For all intents and purposes, White Day is a puzzle game set in a horror environment. The approach of traditional survival horror titles is prevalent here, with documents providing bits of information that become relevant when you’re stuck on a puzzle. You’ll also (on the lower difficulties) get text reminders and map markers providing hints and clues as to where to go or how to overcome a puzzle.

You’re given limited resources in the form of healing items like soy milk or lunchboxes and marker pens to save your game with, by leaving records on various notice boards dotted around the school. One thing that really amped up the fear factor for me was that marker pens are quite hard to come by, so you can go through some long sections of the game without saving, knowing that at any turn or through any door could be your next death – sending you back to the last time you saved. Classic survival horror!

All the while you’re solving puzzles, you’ll be pursued by a janitor on his rounds, who is armed with a bat and a torch. Make too much noise, he’ll be right on your case. Leave the lights on in a room that you’ve just investigated, you’ll draw his attention to your position. You can always use a lighter to illuminate a room to find items, but it has a small radius and the moment you run the flame blows out. Navigating Yeondu School is a balancing act between exploration and covering your tracks properly. It constantly has you on your toes and keeps you on edge – as soon as you hear the jangling of keys or whistling, you had better be prepared to run like hell!

There was one section in particular, where you enter the new building of the school, that had me freaking out. It takes place over four floors and the janitor will patrol the whole space. The catch is, all the floors are visible to him as there are no solid walls. There are plenty of rooms to hide in, but there’s a deadly ghost in one. You could switch on the lights on the third floor while the janitor is on the first, but if he sees that light on he’ll dash over there to turn it off, giving you limited time to explore and solve puzzles. The pace of this section kept me panicked throughout and it really was so well constructed.

To make matters worse, occasionally you’ll be plunged into a “timed puzzle” – these are puzzles that usually have you running back and forth across an entire wing of a school to defeat a ghost. The catch is, you only have a few short minutes to succeed. It’s amazing how just adding a little extra time challenge into the game’s mechanics can suddenly make you completely disorientated. You’re always given more than enough time to solve the puzzle, beat the ghost and rescue the damsel in distress, but it never seems like that whilst you’re playing. You’re on high alert and I was flapping about at my keyboard and mouse just trying my best to catch a breather.

There’s no combat as such, and White Day favours ingenuity and problem solving, with a good dollop of patience, to get through its challenges. I found the gameplay to be solid and you really do feel helpless – or at the very least defenceless – which definitely helps to elevate the fear.

Horror Face


White Day ticks all the boxes when it comes to a complete horror experience. Great level design, chilling score and choice enemy aesthetic. Firstly, the subtitle of the game, “A Labyrinth Named School” definitely comes to life with White Day. The map feels like how you would expect a high school to feel, with lots of rooms scattered across sprawling hallways and numerous floors. It’s quite intimidating, but in a good way. Finding the best route forward to avoid the janitor requires remembering where you’ve been and careful use of the map. It’s easy to get lost in its many similar classrooms and corridors, but this all just adds to the overall horror.

The sound design in White Day is really impressive! The plucks of a traditional string instrument are both eerie and in keeping with the Korean setting. The numerous electrical faults, cries, phones ringing and floors creaking are enough to keep you jumping out of your skin for hours on end. Nothing is out of place and everything is timed to perfection.

The enemies in this game are rooted in folklore and you can tell. They’re creepy, demonic and dangerous. Often taking damage just a few times can put you down and send you back to your last saved game. Getting past these situations is always a puzzle in and of itself. One sequence saw me getting spirit blasted by a ghost version of Lee Hi-min. It took a very bloodied screen before I realised that I had to place a couple of speakers on the spots indicated by a reflection in the mirror. The janitor, whilst not actually looking scary, is somehow the most terrifying. The audio cues that he’s nearby, the constant thought that he could be around any corner and the knowledge that if he spots you, you have no other choice but to run and hide, make the janitor the most immediate and most terrifying threat.

Janitor Run


With that said, White Day isn’t without its faults. The dialogue is more than a little cheesy and the characters are pretty annoying and lifeless. By this, I mean that they don’t seem to react in a genuine way to all the crazy events going on around them. One scene at the start of the game saw a cutsene where the janitor beat a lost student and then cut to Kim Seong-a flirting and jovially indulging in conversation with Lee Min-hi. It was pretty odd to say the least.

The janitor’s AI is pretty primitive, tracking and patrolling in very set ways and seemingly being unresponsive to sound unless you’re sprinting. One thing I can say is that whilst in principle, the janitor is the unstoppable pursuer, in practice he is actually pretty dumb.

White Day - Love


On the whole, criticisms aside, White Day is truly a very good horror game. It’s brim with atmosphere and has a fantastic storyline. Everything genuinely feels quite calculated and well designed, with the intention of providing a fast paced and memorable horror game. I would definitely recommend White Day, especially if you’re a fan of the horror genre, but there’s fun to be had here even for those who don’t normally play scary titles.


The game can be purchased digitally for PC via Humble Bundle or Steam. It can be purchased digitally for the PlayStation 4 via the console store.

If you would like to see more horror games, you might be interested in our review of Infliction: Extended Cut.

Many thanks go to the publisher PQube for a review code for this title. 

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