Written By: Lauren
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m totally hooked on “White Island,” and for more reasons than I can list off the top of my head.
After finishing the intro, I jumped right into Episode 1: “Can’t Let You Go Alone.”
A lot of new characters are introduced this episode, including main characters we saw in the intro, like Jae, Jina, and Seo Hyun (who were on the list Ji Hoon saw). We also meet characters like Min Hyeok, Dae Han, Jang, and Kim Seo, some of whom I feel will become very important later on.
Episode 1: Can’t Let You Go Alone
I was confused as hell at the start of the episode, because Ji Hoon was standing in between some buildings with an unfamiliar surrounding. The intro ended with him getting captured by two creepy people in suits, so I thought it would be picking up from there, but it wasn’t. I assume that’s because the intro is actually the climax of the story, or where it starts getting intense.
You get to examine Ji Hoon’s surroundings, and you see things like a dog poking at a bowl of food with money in it. He’s looking for his professor, so he tries to dial him. He approaches a phone booth, and inside of the slot, you find change to call, but he doesn’t pick it up.
Ji Hoon then looks for someone named Seo Hyun. He goes to the harbor terminal, thinking he should make an announcement on the intercom to call her to the terminal. He meets a fisherman named Kim Seo, who acts just a little suspicious… or downright unlikeable.
He also meets Jang, who gives him a squid in exchange for a fluorescent float he needs for night fishing. He also learns the ferries are canceled, so no ships will be leaving the harbor.
Jang, the jerk working the information booth, shoos him off when he tries asking for help. Ji Hoon buys him a drink from the vending machine, and comes back later when he’s finished. Jang is gone, so Ji Hoon uses the intercom to make an announcement.
His girlfriend, Seo Hyun, then shows up at Geomun Island Harbor, and they meet with Jae and Jina, two other friends who are tagging along on the missing person search. They’re that one couple that constantly bickers and makes you question why they’re even together in the first place.
The group decides to go look for their professor on White Island. The ferry is gone when they’re back, so Ji Hoon gets suspicious. They manage to get a ride from a friendly fisherman, who takes them all the way there when they help repair his boat.
A few hours later, they arrive at White Island. They see the two jerks from Geomun Island fishing there. The village is unusually empty, and a shady figure stands in the center of the town. His name is Min Hyeok and he’s an investigator in charge of the town.
The friends check in at the Village Community Center. They see a clipping with their professor’s picture on it, and they find out he was there just recently. Jae decides to leave and look for clues, so they all go out after him.
They meet the mean detective, Dae Han, inside of the Village Head’s home, which is eerily untouched. Apparently, it’s a crime scene that they have no business looking around.
There’s also a sign in the middle of the village that’s missing pieces. They go inspect the lighthouse area, where they see the infamous White Island Lilies that are said to contain hallucinogens that cause cannibalism. Creepy stuff.
We know right away that this is very important. Just what are these flowers? What do these flowers have to do with mysterious disappearances? Cannibalism? What the heck?
Trust me, I was intrigued by them, too. They’re beautiful, yet something about them are frightening. More about these flowers will be revealed sooner or later, since they’re one of the key elements of the story.
There are a few loose stones in the foundation of the lighthouse. They find stuff that belongs to their professor hidden there, including a photo album and a map with mysterious markings on it.
They also uncover the missing pieces of the sign and put it together, which is one of the first major puzzles we get to solve ourselves. Using the light of the candle (which only lasts for a certain time duration), we piece together the puzzle and hear the story behind the image from Seo Hyun. It talks about how Rock Island became known as White Island and sounds just like any old fairytale.
A little bit after they solve the puzzle, they realize the Village Community Center is on fire. As they look at the destruction, Seo Hyun looks at Ji Hoon and says, “Do you have the ALB 21 injection solution with you, right now? If you get it, you’d better use it right away.”
He tries to ask her why she suddenly says that, and all she can say is, “Just do it.”
First of all, why would anybody have something like that with them on hand? Secondly, what’s with the sudden cut? That was pretty strange in my opinion, especially since at the start of the episode, she miraculously fell asleep with the ferry disappeared from Geomun Island, and she gave one of her most prized possessions to Ji Hoon.
If you ask me, that’s outright suspicious. She obviously knows more than everyone else does. Either that, or she has a premonition something bad is going to happen to her.
I honestly don’t care much for Seo Hyun’s character. She doesn’t have much personality, and seems like the typical “knows-something-but-won’t-say-anything” character. I don’t hate her, but she’s extremely lackluster design-wise and personality-wise compared to the rest of the characters. Even minor ones like Dae Han and even Jang appeal more to me.
She reminds me of Naho from “Corpse Party” or characters from horror flicks that could’ve saved their friends’ lives if they just opened their mouths.
“Honeymoon,” anyone? The whole movie was based off of the decision of the protagonist’s fiancee hiding a horrible secret from him. He literally spends the entire duration of the movie yelling and begging her to tell him, and she just doesn’t say anything. It was so frustrating and annoying. I wasted two hours watching him ask her about what’s going on over and over again.
I hope that “White Island” doesn’t do the same with Seo Hyun and drag on the “mystery.” She better have a good reason for hiding what she knows or feels, because it’s uninteresting and outright frustrating when the logical reaction is to be honest with your friends if you know something that can save them time or their lives. Why hide something that important, right?
So far, she’s unoriginal and boring. I might grow to like her, depending on how she develops throughout the storyline. Stories have made me love characters I originally disliked, so she might be one of those!
On the other hand, Jae and Jina have interesting characters. It’s annoying how they bicker like children, but there’s a depth to them that makes me want to learn more about them. I actually really love Jina.
The progression of the story is decent for the first episode. I was thrown off by the beginning, since I expected the story to pick up from the intro, but there’s no complaint there. I appreciate that there is a chronological order to actions, so you have to pay attention to your items and surroundings to know what to do next.
For example, when you approach the phone booth, you have to pick up the phone first, take the coin from the slot, and insert it. You have to do this order specifically, or the coin will just come back out of the slot and you can’t dial.
I love the “Action” and “Converse” buttons. It adds a strong interactive element that many visual novels don’t have.
When you use the “Converse” button, you get choices of what to say. It’s usually three options, and there’s one right one, but choosing the “wrong” responses is not necessarily damaging to the storyline. You can play around with it and learn more by choosing the “wrong” options, then choosing the “right” one so you can move on with the gameplay.
The scenery is gorgeous on Geomun Island and White Island. It’s original and works well with the character sprites. It doesn’t look like sprites were just copied and pasted onto the backgrounds. The color palette is dark, flat, and beautiful. I’m in love with it!
I did find myself getting a little confused with all of the stuff about the professor going missing and what he’s doing on the island. There were so many details throughout the episode that my mind drifted.
Overall, this was a good start to the game. I enjoyed playing it, and spent a good 45 minutes digging into the details. I have wonderful feelings about “White Island,” and I can only anticipate the goodness the game has in store for me. I can’t wait for what else Visual Shower has lined up!
Ren’s Rating: 7.5/10