The Spooky World Of Oriental Gaming: WhiteDay

WhiteDayIt’s October, which means that the laws of the universe require me to write about some kind of scary game or else my laptop will burst into flames. Something like that anyway. Probably. In any case I’ve decided to share fantastically creepy Korean horror adventure WhiteDay with everyone during this spooky season.

Not only is WhiteDay the perfect game to make you afraid of the dark again but thanks to a great English fan translation patch (available here) I’m blabbering on about something that, for once, everyone reading this can enjoy fully. There’ll be no spoilers below, so feel free to read everything without worrying that you’ll ruin all the fun for yourself!

The game came out in 2001, just before the likes of Silent Hill 2 and Project Zero (AKA Fatal Frame); an English release was planned and apparently finished, but ultimately never released. It’s very much a departure from Sonnori’s other work – they tended to make 2D RPGs, the most famous in the West probably being the PSP version of Astonishia Story. Sonnori obviously didn’t get the memo saying that trying out a totally different genre with an all-new game engine is a bad idea, and it’s a good thing too because WhiteDay is easily one of the best horror games I’ve ever had the sort-of pleasure of scaring myself silly over.

If it’s like anything, I’d say it’s spiritually closest to Super Famicom classic Clock Tower. Enemies are infrequent but almost every encounter is genuinely life-threatening and your renameable Korean schoolboy is totally defenceless against them – running or hiding are the only options. Unlike Clock Tower there are no designated hiding spots in Yeondu High School and the ever-present caretakers are smart enough to come looking for you if they hear a bucket being kicked over in the corridor and will use their torches to find you hiding in the dark. You can tell if they’re nearby by the ominous sound of their keys jangling getting closer, and for those that are either hearing impaired or simply cannot take the wailing of ghost babies or menacing laughter in the air any longer there’s the (sadly rarely implemented) option to use a visual aid that shows the direction and intensity of important noises on screen.

WhiteDay-Screenshots

When you are able to get some sort of break from all the things wanting you dead there’s plenty of puzzles to solve and notes to pick up that go over the school’s gruesome history, and thanks to the setting and some thoughtful design the various locked doors and spectral obstacles in your way don’t feel overly forced or unreasonable the way Resident Evil’s key/plaque/plug/gem/crank, etc. inventory juggling can do. It’s also worth noting that a few puzzles have different solutions each time you play – the method remains the same but the answers change, meaning you can’t breeze through everything on a second play through and ignore half the rooms.

Assuming your heart can take it you will want to do at least one other run through the game too – almost every conversation you have with the small number of surviving students has multiple choices and these help to change further dialogue options as well as the ending you receive. The better endings are only available to those brave enough to face the extra ghosts and problems thrown at the player on “normal” difficulty or above.

Of interest although completely unplayable these days was the inclusion of a separate online multiplayer mode, there were apparently a few different ways to play, one was some kind of deathmatch scenario with one player taking the role of a ghost (caretaker?) and the other players being schoolchildren (custom head textures were possible, so everyone didn’t have to look the same) in what I guess is some gruesome take on hide-and-seek. Another looks like it involved two teams throwing balls at a pinata-like object out in the school yard until it breaks open.

WhiteDay-Screenshot-1

The main singleplayer game got a mobile phone port (Korea only, of course) in 2009, heavily reworked into a 2D adventure with various in-app purchases and one new ghost.

Even though WhiteDay is without question a quality game Sonnori never followed it up with either a true sequel or another horror game and with the planned English (UK) release falling through at the last minute the game never had the chance to gain any official exposure outside its home territory.

WhiteDay Gameplay Video


Last Updated ( 30 October 2013 )  
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