White Day: A Labyrinth Named School (화이트데이: 학교라는 이름의 미궁).
White Day stars a young Korean student who has a crush on a local beauty. A chance encounter leads into her forgetting to pick up her diary. Being a noble gentleman with a crush, he sneaks into the school at night to plant the diary and chocolates into her desk. The holiday White Day is upon them, which is similar to Valentine's Day, but in Korea (and some other areas in Asia) White Day is the day where boys gives girls chocolate, while Valentine's Day is the day girls give guys chocolate. But as he sneaks in, he gets involved into a story that runs deeper than the schools innocent exterior. Something is wrong. As the game goes on, the school slowly begins turning into some abstract and terrifying labyrinth that just continues to grow and grow into utter madness. Uncovering the secrets that have festered beneath rock and soil, long forgotten... but sometimes pain that runs this deep leaves traces...
I checked and searched as much as I could on many forums, but I don't think there was ever a mention of it on top horror game of all time lists. I found some threads on it but there was only a few responses here and there. This is understandable, as the game was released in 2000 for PC, and was only released in Korea... But it is a damn shame. For better or worse, it's here now.
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School remains the scariest game I have ever played.
Before Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Penumbra, there was White Day. I mention those games as I feel Frictional borrowed a lot from the game White Day. They are incredibly similar in quite a few ways, though I feel White Day still remains far scarier than either of those franchises and pulled off the, 'I'm a defenseless hero hiding in the dark' mechanic far better 10 years before Amnesia came out. The game was incredibly ahead of it's time, using a lot of real-world logic for various actions and puzzles in the game and stirring up an atmosphere that I feel has been unmatched by any other game to this day.
The game was so terrifying that many people emailed the developers saying they couldn't complete the game because of how absolutely frightening it was. They released some patches for the game that changed the scare levels dependent on what difficulty you choose.. There are more healing items and far less scares on very easy mode, but less save points and items on Hard difficulty mode, but more story and scares. Though not all scares will be experienced in a single playthrough regardless, as the game features quite a few randomized scares that may or may not happen in a playthrough. And these aren't just 'booo did I scare you' jump scares, these have to be some of the most well-done psychological horror I've ever experienced.
The game essentially has forces working against us that we cannot contend with, even the darkness itself is not much better. Strange paranormal occurrences are happening in the school. In the dark is where things start to get really messed up, and anything from something crawling through the vents, noticing something move in your peripheral vision or the school itself fighting your presence. Your main source of light is a box of matches, which dim out quickly and only shine light about a foot or two in front of you. Full of progressively twists and turns, environment hazards, and is progressively getting stranger and more dangerous. Finally, if you play the game on Hard Mode, there's additional notes containing ghost stories, as well as the ghosts of these stories being in the school, also randomized somewhat. From all of this, you are completely defenseless.. run, hide, pray and never give up.
The game had a complete mastery of atmosphere, scares paying off, and though outdated graphically boasted some extremely ahead of their time ideas. The team unfortunately was disbanded shortly after the game was released, there was an English version planned at one point but it was cancelled as they went under.
The game became abandonware (after the closing of Korean developer Sonnori) and now there are no holders to its rights or any copyrights on it, making sense as it didn't sell well, only was sold in Korea, and had almost non-existent advertising.
And because of this, the game has become incredibly hard to find for sale and is relatively unknown still, though in several circles of horror enthusiast it is known as one of the, if not the, scariest games of all time, and in my opinion it's the scariest to exist (and I've played a lot of horror games).
However, because it is abandonware, the game is now free and even the developers have kept up the website unofficially to link people to download the full game. People have also worked on an English patch, so these days you can easily download it and experience it yourself.
It's almost time for the season of Halloween. I welcome everyone to test their wits against this game, and see if you can disagree that it isn't the scariest game of all time. Try the hard mode, and see how it goes for you. It only gets scarier the further along you get, and if you want a real challenge try 'Real' mode (even more scares, die once and you get a game over, have to escape the school before midnight or else you lose). I'm going to keep my own game diary of my events in the game. I think this could be fun and bring some attention to a hidden gem that really deserves it.