White Day: A Labyrinth Named School (화이트 데이: 학교라는 이름의 미궁) is a first-person survival horror game developed by Sonnori and published by Wizard Soft for the PC in South Korea on September 25, 2001. An English edition of White Day was planned to be released in 2004 by British PC publisher 4am Entertainment and was advertised to have a multiplayer mode. 4am Entertainment's version was never released but an English translation patch was created by fans in 2012 which lead to White Day gaining a cult following in English speaking territories.
White Day sold poorly in South Korea due to lack of advertising and rampant piracy, which lead to members of Sonnori being assimilated into other Korean development companies in late 2001. Since its initial release, White Day slowly built up a dedicated fanbase in Korea but the title remained dormant for years and many considered it to be abandonware. However, in 2009 a mobile phone version of White Day was released by Ntreev, a developer made up of former Sonnori employees. The port reworked the game into a point-and-click adventure title and replaced all of the 3D environments with 2D images. Finally a complete remake of White Day was created by ROI Games, a company founded by the original development team, and premiered on Android devices in November of 2015.
In South Korea and Japan, Valentine's Day is viewed as a day when girls give chocolates to boys whom they like or have affections for. The following month, March 14th is celebrated as White Day, on which boys reciprocate and present candy or chocolate to girls they have feelings for.
The game takes place the night before this holiday with a student named Hui-min sneaking into his school, Yeondu High, after its closed. He plans on surprising his crush, a girl named So-yeong, by planting a box of chocolates in her desk. However, Hui-min finds himself trapped in the school soon after entering and must find a way out. The situation becomes even more dire when Hui-min discovers that a deranged janitor is wandering the halls killing anyone still in the building.
White Day contains eight different endings that are obtained based on the player's actions and choices made during conversations. The endings are all named after flowers (White Chrysanthemum, Hyacinth, Ivy, Tuberose, Ebony, Dandelion, Althea, Yew) with the first letter of each flower spelling "WHITEDAY."
White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is a horror adventure game that is played in the first-person perspective where the player explores the halls of a haunted high school while solving puzzles and avoiding hazards. The main character, Hui-min, is trapped in the school with three other female students, Seong-ah, Ji-hyun and So-yeong, who the player must work with in order to find a way out. While talking to the other students the player will make dialogue choices that will influence which of White Day's endings will be obtained at the game's conclusion.
While navigating the school a violent janitor will be wandering the halls in real time, equipped with a flashlight and baseball bat. If the player makes any loud noises or is spotted by the flashlight, the janitor will chase Hui-min down and beat him to death with his bat. The janitor cannot be killed, so the only thing the player can do is avoid the janitor by keeping an ear out for the jiggle of his key ring or by running and hiding if discovered. However the janitor is not the only threat roaming the school. There are also several ghosts that can randomly appear and attack the player as well as bosses at the end of every chapter in the game.
Hui-min has a life bar on the bottom left of the screen that is represented by a picture of a heart. When the player is attacked by an enemy, or has been running for too long while injured, the heart will beat faster and the screen will flash red to indicate how much damage has been received. The only way to restore health is to eat food that can be found throughout the environment or by purchasing snacks at vending machines using won coins. Besides food, the player can also obtain a verity of items and equipment that are used to solve puzzles, help gain access to new areas and even save their game. The player has a limited number of saves that are restricted through the need to use pens, which can be collected throughout the school, on notepads in order to record their progress, similar to how ink ribbons were used in the earlier Resident Evil titles. There are also various notes and documents that can be discovered that expand upon White Day's narrative and give hints on how to solve puzzles.
The English version of White Day that was going to be released by 4am Entertainment was advertised to have a multiplayer mode that would allow one player to control the janitor or ghosts while the other controlled Hui-min. It is unknown if this mode was ever in the original Korean release but if it was the feature was patched out of future versions of the game and no longer exists.
- Hui-min: The protagonist of White Day, a young man that has only recently transferred to Yeondu.
- Seong-ah: A quick tempered tomboy who is the first character the player meets in the game.
- Ji-hyun: A shy girl that wears glasses who helps Hui-min escape from the janitor.
- So-yeong: The mysterious young woman that Hui-min wants to give chocolates to.
- Bong-gu (The Janitor): The crazed janitor that roams the halls of the Yeondu High School.
White Day was advertised with several different names throughout its development and the story, characters and gameplay went through many changes before the game's final release in 2001.
The first version of White Day that was shown to the public was White Day: Ghost School from 1998. Ghost School was only shown in advertisements and a trailer that was included in Steel Empire, a strategy RPG developed by Sonnori. Not a lot is known about this iteration of the game but it appeared to have a very different story to the final release, although it was still basically about a boy sneaking into his school to plant White Day chocolates in his crush's desk. Ghost School also featured a much larger cast of characters and was going to be played in the third-person.
Another version from 1999, called White Day: Blood Festival, is thought by fans to be a mostly complete "beta" of White Day that was scrapped. Blood Festival had a first-person perspective and its plot was much closer to what the final game would be but it contained more characters, including another male student named Ki-su and an exorcist known as Il-hyun. The school was also advertised as being a seamless environment with no loading screens but this feature was removed in later versions, probably due to hardware limitations in computers at the time. Only promotional materials and screenshots currently exists for White Day: Blood Festival but there was supposedly a playable build of the game that was never publicly released.
Finally in 2000 a demo for White Day was released called White Day: A Ghost School Tragedy. The demo was very similar to the final release of White Day but it contained many small differences, including characters having different textures, cut-scenes not including the same people, and classrooms missing certain details. There is also a lot of unused content that can be found inside Ghost School Tragedy, such as scrapped side stories and sound effects as well as a locked multiplayer mode.
- An official mod for White Day was released by Sonnori in 2002 called Oh! Jaemi, which was an online multiplayer shooter that could be launched in White Day's startup menu once installed. Oh! Jaemi didn't share White Day's aesthetic or setting and was a comedic shooter where players ran around an arena throwing bean balls at each other while trying to capture the other team's base.
- White Day was infamous for having an incredibly atmospheric soundtrack. One particular song is called "Labyrinth" (미궁) which was played on a traditional instrument called ga-ya-gum (가야금). The song's artist, Hwang Byungki (황병기), once said that while performing this song live, a woman screamed and left the building in fear. Rumors spread throughout the internet and people started saying that the woman committed suicide after listening to the song, although there is no proof that such a thing actually happened.
- Hui-min's compatibility with the other female students is measured by a hidden value that is influenced by the player's choices in the game. However, if the player crouches down and looks up the skirt of one of the students the compatibility value for that character will drop to zero. Hui-min will also receive a kick to the face by the student, which drains a significant amount of health.
- White Day was parodied on Saturday Night Live Korea in 2014 with a skit that starred two guys playing a fictional video game that was a mixture of Grand Theft Auto and White Day called, "Grand Theft Autumn: White Day."
- Inside the code for White Day is an encrypted file that contains a short video. The video is a recording of various members of the Sonnori development team being causally interviewed by the cameraman, sometimes to humorous effect. According to the cameraman, the home movie was filmed on September 19, 2001 at 6:17 am, just a few days before the launch of White Day. The video was created to be dummy data in order to make White Day’s file size larger so it would be more difficult to pirate. It wasn’t until almost eight years after the game's initial release in 2009 that someone discovered the dummy data.