Games like Amnesia and Penumbra are great, sure, but they don't have that relatable element to them—White Day: A Labyrinth Named School has... well, school.
With this familiarity comes a new level of horror—very much of the Asian brand, and very much of the type that has you hysterically running for shelter away from the ever-encroaching jangling of an insane janitor's keys. You know, the usual stuff.
Originally released back in 2001 on PC, White Day picked up something of a cult following outside of its native South Korea. While never officially released in English, fan projects offered up a working translation of the game and we ended up with something actually playable—and understandable.
Now, in 2016, White Day has been officially remade, translated and re-released for iPhone and Android devices, meaning you're now able to take the horror with you wherever you go.
It's the kind of game perfect for Youtubers—and those very videos are great for getting yourself all worked up and terrified. Don't just take our word for it, have a watch:
From that video you can see White Day, while set in the oh-so-familiar world of a school, is actually... less familiar. It's not like every educational facility in the world has possessed janitors, ghosts with mysterious pasts and all other sorts of dangers and horrors lurking within. Normally schools just have the horror that is P.E, and not much else.
White Day brings all of those horrors (minus P.E) and puts you, Hui-min Lee, as the young man trapped in school after hours, up against them. What do you face off against these forces of terror with? Nothing.
Yep, White Day proved to be ahead of its time back in 2001, being a game in which the player is essentially powerless; only able to run and hide from the threats facing them. Anyone who's played the likes of Amnesia knows just how horrifying it is to encounter a powerful, nefarious antagonist and have no way of combating them.
All you can do is run and hide in the shadows—but then it's not like the shadows are too friendly either.
Another horror cliche White Day avoids is using buckets of gore—instead of just relying on the shock factor of blood and viscera, the game avoids most overt violence. Your mind fills in the gaps. Your mind is capable of a lot more than some so-called 'shocking' imagery. Your mind is not your friend.
While obviously a 15-year-old game is never going to win awards for its looks, White Day's re-working into a modern mobile game has seen it take a leap in visual and audio quality, featuring the sort of high quality 3D graphics rarely seen in the mobile gaming sphere. It's at least on a par with some smaller releases on PC, if not better.
On the way to one of your seven endings achievable, players are accompanied by the likes of Erica Schroeder, Sarah Natochenny and Kate Bristol on vocal duties, playing So-young Han, Seong-ah Kim and Ji-hyeon Seol—the girls trapped in the school with the player character. With credits on the likes of Pokemon and Dragonball, it's an experienced and skilful cast bringing the schoolgirls to life.
The look and sound of White Day is the obvious thing to draw people in and build an atmosphere, but it's in the game's less obvious parts where that atmosphere grows to become something otherly—something that goes from unnerving, to scary, to utterly terrifying. Just as the great unknowns are what keep us awake at night, it's the unknowable elements in White Day that keep people scared, that keep people talking about the game, that keep people recommending it to each other.
So now we all have the chance to get in on the cult hit, so beloved by those who have played it over the past 15 years, with an official English release and higher quality across the board. You can check out White Day's Facebook and Instagram over coming days, weeks and months as they're sure to become more populated with things relating to the game's uniquely terrifying aura.
Normally selling for a penny under a fiver, White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is enjoying 50% off during its launch promotion, making it a terrifyingly bargainous £2.49—but get in there quick, as this offer only runs until 2pm GMT on March 20.
And all this without even mentioning the VR version planned for development in the second half of 2016... Honestly, we avoided talking about that because it's just a mite too terrifying right now.