Wednesday, June 11, 2008

WhiteDay (Demo)


WhiteDay (화이트데이)
System: PC
Publisher: Sonnori
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 09/25/01


In Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, the holidays of Valentine's Day and White Day work in conjunction. On Valentine's Day (February 14th), women are expected to give chocolate gifts to men. On White Day (March 14th), the opposite applies; men are expected to give gifts to women, and as an unspoken rule of return, said gifts are generally expected to be more expensive in cost.
The game itself apparently opens around said holiday, as our protagonist is seen to approach an apparent crush by the name of So Young.


A gust of wind brings the two together, but soon enough, they are separated again. However, the girl has left a few of her items behind. Our lad, taking natural advantage of the situation, deems it necessary to not only return the items but also a White Day gift (a box of chocolates) to So Young. In a rather odd decision, he deems it necessary to attempt to deliver her items to her at school - at the stroke of midnight. Naturally enough, nothing goes as it should; he fails to find the girl, bizarre and inexplicable visions surface as he goes from room to room, and a psychotic custodian with a club is hunting for him.


It is with this premise that the title dumps you into yet another first-person adventure title... you know, like ...Iru!, the Echo Night games, Hellnight, et al. You are defenseless, the enemies have the advantage, you must either avoid them or uncover their hidden weakness, etc etc. This formula is by no means new; what we have here is, essentially, a retread. To be fair, the setup here has been developed just a bit more. As an example, Echo Night played with lights; turning on the lights in a room would flush the ghosts out. WhiteDay, which has a somewhat advanced light sourcing engine in place, works something more like Silent Hill; light, while not required, makes uncovering items and making your way through the various rooms easier. Light, however, will also make it easier for the enemy to track you. Your stalker may ignore a classroom that is dark. However, if the classroom is lit, he may suspect that you are hiding within, and enter. Or, you may be standing within a dark room, and have a match lit. An enemy may be able to detect this bit of light from further down the hall, and home in upon it.


The stalker is also different from what you encountered in Hellnight. The beast was almost always around, but from time to time, either wandered off or failed to effectively stalk you. The first stalker of WhiteDay makes it a point to remain within the area at all times; he will often comb the area he last saw you in over multiple times before moving on. Even then, he may return to check once more. Even when he is not in eyeshot, he can often be heard; his chuckling and the sound of his keys jangling will effectively follow the player no matter where they are. In a sense, the custodian is more threatening than the beast; his presence is almost always there, ready to keep a player on their toes.


And unlike ...Iru!, progress is made much more apparent for those players not versed in Korean. Things happen and change much more obviously in WhiteDay than they do in ...Iru!. In the former, following a particular scene, characters will often make obvious motions to move or leave. The lights may go off. A door may open. Changes in the environment or in the few characters you may encounter are much more obvious, and thus there are fewer difficulties in making your way around. Whereas ...Iru! forces you to guess as it; work your way over each room with a fine-toothed comb every time something happens in a vain attempt at pushing the game forward.


The point I'm trying to make here is that, even if WhiteDay is similar to other titles, this is by no means a bad thing. When game concepts and principles are, arguably, sound (and, for the most part, the driving force behind the Echo Night and Hellnight games were strong), there is nothing wrong with working the formula just a bit. The sense of horror that such first person titles tend to bolster also works in WhiteDay; the dark, silent school hallways are all the more eerie when seen through the character's eyes than if seen from a third person perspective. The school itself is fairly nondescript, but the effective utilization of shadows and darkness adds to the atmosphere of the title; the pinpoint of light that a match or lighter adds barely penetrates this veil.


There really isn't much else to say about the title at this point; given that this is a demo, it sadly ends just as the plot begins to pick up. This would not normally be much of an issue, to be sure. If you enjoyed a game's demo, you'd simply go out and purchase the actual title. This in itself is sadly impossible in the west; as it stands, an apparent English version was planned by now defunct company 4AM Entertainment, and may or may not have been released, based on its listing on Amazon.co.uk, but now remains largely exclusive to South Korea.


Since the demo is largely playable and beatable, though, it deserves to be played for being an enjoyable evolution of sorts of the first-person horror adventure. When I get the chance to play and finish the full game, I may go on to post my thoughts on the title as a whole.

4 comments:

Danny said...

I think ive heard of this on chris' survival horror quest, looks interesting, reminds me of a korean version of obscure for some reason.

Anonymous said...

Its a really fun game but what the hell happened to 4am entertainment?

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Anonymous said...

Il semble que vous soyez un expert dans ce domaine, vos remarques sont tres interessantes, merci.

- Daniel