White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is hard to define, but the closest I can come up with is a fantasy horror slice-of-life anime puzzle game. This weird mash-up is one of the most unique games I have ever played. In this unique title, you’ll wander through a supposedly-empty high school in a journey of love and survival horror.
There’s a lot to like in this homunculus of a game: the horror elements are well designed and mostly effective; the environments are detailed and well-styled; and the story is some anime-quality high school drama with supernatural and romantic elements.
The primary means of progression through the high school consists of solving obscure puzzles and avoiding death by janitor. The puzzles resemble early Resident Evil titles; you have to find “x” tool/key to access “y” room and so on.
The farther you delve into the school, the more twisted and demented things become. These moments of dark and twisted revelations are incredible and worthy of a Halloween movie marathon. The character designs are incredibly detailed and the artistry in their appearance is second to none. Truly the monstrous and melancholy art is the high point of White Day: A Labyrinth Named School.
The set-up to the premise is ridiculous and campy in a very anime fashion and the story continues in this manner throughout. It takes some lovely horrific turns that are welcome interruptions to the action.
- Decent puzzles
- Fantastic monster designs/story elements
- Enjoyable story and medium
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is one of the most apparent 1:1 PC ports I’ve ever played and at points, it’s just tragic. This is essentially a point and click adventure game that works fine when you’re moving from one destination to another, but when you need to pick up one of the many small items necessary to progress or when you’re looking for clues, the translation from mouse to joystick is painful. It’s so clunky and clumsy that it stops what fun there is to be had in its tracks, especially when you’re running from an enemy and have to frantically search for a door knob to click on and open the door. The discrepancy between the precision required to succeed and the precision of the controls is so wide that pushing through this game for more than a half hour at a time is a struggle.
The game’s enemies are also too disparate to be fun. There are essentially two kinds of enemies: supernatural beings of immense power and the delightfully-terrifying design of the high school janitor. The first time you have a janitor chase you, it is genuinely intense, but after they introduce the more nightmarish characters, all that tension evaporates. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if the game didn’t still expect you to find the janitors threatening. They’re plentiful and annoying, an unnecessary mechanic. Imagine playing an RPG that has you fight monstrous dragon bosses, but all the overworld enemies are kittens. The supernatural designs and situations are so well done and unnerving that the janitors are all the more disappointing.
One of the biggest issues with this game isn’t even a part of the game itself, but how it interacts with the Nintendo Switch hardware. This game is nearly impossible to play in handheld mode unless you’re in a completely dark room, at least on a non-OLED Switch. Even with the in-game brightness and system brightness both maxed out, this game is simply hard to see on the Switch screen. Horror games relying on darkness isn’t anything new, but other horror games on the Switch with dark tendencies don’t seem to have this issue. I play a lot of horror games and even the famously-dark Outlast trilogy is easier to decipher.
- Clumsy controls
- Lack of tension
- Hard to see in handheld
Final Score: 5/10
Playing and reviewing games like this one always makes me sad, not because the games are unplayably bad, but because they’re painful to play in spite of the nuggets of greatness they contain. White Day: A Labyrinth Named School really shines in a lot of areas artistically, but the impracticality of the logistical aspects to playing this game really put a grimy film on what would have been a good game. I’m genuinely curious what this game would be like on PC, because most of the issues I had with it seem to be the effects of a lazy port. I had high hopes for this game and was really looking forward to playing it, but overall, it was very disappointing.
Thank you for checking out our White Day: A Labyrinth Named School Switch review, thank you to PQube for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: