A quick chat with the developers of White Day 2: The Flower That Tells Lies

A while back, you may recall that developer ROOTNSTUDIO put out a couple of intriguing teasers for White Day 2: The Flower That Tells Lies, the sequel to their well-regarded horror title White Day: A Labyrinth Named School. To follow up on those trailers, we were fortunate enough to be able to grab some time out of the devs’ busy schedule to tell us a little more about the upcoming game, which is set to arrive later in 2022.

“White Day 2 focuses on bizarre phenomena and horrors that occur in the school,” the developers tell me. “Most of the characters in White Day 2 have their pain related to the school somehow. White Day 2 is the story of healing their pain.”

ROOTNSTUDIO are understandably hesitant to give too much away about the new game, since clearly a core appeal element of it is a sense of unfolding mystery and gradual discovery. But will fans need to have caught up on the original White Day before playing White Day 2? I put the question to them.

“White Day 2 is connected to White Day,” came the response. “But even if you didn’t play White Day, it shouldn’t be a problem at all to play White Day 2 or understand the whole story. However, users who enjoyed playing White Day will enjoy White Day 2 even more.”

An understandable response — and a sensible approach to sequels in this day and age, particularly if there’s a significant amount of time between release dates. Changing tacks, I wondered what sort of things people might be able to look forward to experiencing in the new game — horror games are famously experimental in the ways that they can scare people and create atmosphere, so what is White Day 2 bringing to the table?

“As White Day 2 is a story-based game, I can’t give you a lot of hints,” I was told. “The more hints you give, the more spoilers you get! However, if White Day was mainly about horror, White Day 2 adds a reasoning and mystery element. We expect that players will experience more comprehensive gameplay.”

So it sounds as if the new game will have more “substance” to it than the original — perhaps a stronger adventure game-inspired feel. The original game had plenty to explore and discover, of course, but there’s always room to try new things.

White Day and its sequel are, of course, Korean horror titles. Korean horror has been gradually establishing itself in English-speaking markets as providing a very distinct approach to both Japanese and western horror. I was curious as to how ROOTNSTUDIO would be bringing its own distinctively Korean aspects to the mix in White Day 2.

“If you look at the classics of Korea,” the devs explained, “many of the traditional horrors have the subject of ‘Han’ (恨). People from the most exploited classes are killed unfairly and become ghosts who cannot leave this world because they cannot relieve their pain. The village executor hears the story of the ghost and punishes the person who killed the ghost so that the ghost is relieved of pain and ascends to heaven in a good state. The flow of Korean fear tends to go fear – compassion – relief.”

Indeed, this approach can be seen in many other Korean and Korean-inspired horror titles that are on the market today — including both the original White Day and titles from other developers such as Devespresso’s excellent The Coma series.

“White Day 2 has the characteristics of Korean horror,” the developers continue. “It is a fear that stimulates psychological elements in a static atmosphere rather than jumpscares. White Day 2 should elicit feelings of being ‘frightened’ through its atmosphere rather than being ‘surprised’ by dramatic direction.”

Again, the most popular and enduring horror games in recent (and not-so-recent) memory have tended to focus more on this psychological aspect. Jumpscares can be effective, of course — but they tend to only really “work” once or twice and lose a lot of their impact on subsequent playthroughs. A truly menacing, unsettling atmosphere, meanwhile, pretty much always remains effective and relevant, even if you know where the story’s going. And in White Day 2, there are actually several different ways the story can go, making it ripe for replays.

“In White Day 2, the proportion of story elements has increased significantly,” I’m told. “White Day also had multiple endings, but in White Day 2, story branching and the way these branches lead to multiple endings is much more sophisticated. Depending on your choices of actions and the characters you meet, you’ll head down various story branches, and the ending will change accordingly.”

Sounds good to me. To wrap things up for now, I was curious if the popularity of modern horror games such as the lineup by Chilla’s Art with VTubers had influenced the team to make the game more of a “spectator sport” when streamed?

“We want YouTubers and streamers to enjoy White Day 2 by communicating with users,” came the simple answer. So hopefully in the not too distant future we’ll see plenty of livestreaming anime girls exploring the game and getting endearingly unsettled by the whole experience!

Further details on White Day 2 are still deliberately thin on the ground to keep that air of mystery surrounding the game — but with any luck we’ll finally see what the new title is all about later in 2022. Stay tuned to ROOTNSTUDIO’s YouTube channel for the latest updates and trailers!

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Pete Davison
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