It’s best to approach the recently announced MMO with cautious optimism.
Sometimes the marketing cycles for certain games can lead us on for months and months – or even years before showing us much of anything that actually tells us what the game is going to be. This can be pretty annoying and often builds up unnecessary and unrealistic levels of hype for any given game. Given that, it’s nice to see that more and more games are taking the exact opposite approach, and not spilling the beans early in order to actually reveal useful information other than the fact that the game exists.
The Day Before appears to be one such game. It’s a game that nobody even knew was in production over at Fntastic until last month, yet it looks like it’s been worked on for several years given the gameplay footage that was shown in the trailer that dropped late January 2021. Surprises like this are a big part of what makes covering games so fun, because you just never know when things like this will drop into our laps. The truth is that there are talented teams all over the world toiling away on the masterpieces of tomorrow right now, so when something that looks interesting and nearly complete does show up in the public eye, it’s a breath of fresh air among all of the repetitive conversations going on about games that we aren’t going to actually get our hands on for the next several years.
The Day Before is looking like a pretty interesting post-apocalyptic survival game set in an open-world and with what appears to be a multiplayer focus. This checks a lot of nice boxes that many other games have attempted but few have ever really pulled off across the board. There are lots of post apocalypse games, there are lots of open world games, and there are lots of multiplayer focused games. But the list of games that have combined all of these elements and formed anything with any real staying power is surprisingly short. Given what the trailer does seem to implicate, could The Day Before be the ultimate game of this sort? Or is it too good to be true?
The very first thing the trailer shows us is a newspaper clipping that shows that billionaires have increased their fortunes by 27% during the pandemic. Now that could just be a reference for the sake of being a reference, and it could also still be its own fictional story set among his own fictional stylized versions of events, but it could also be directly tied to current events in a way that we don’t really see games do that much anymore.
The idea that the current pandemic we’re in could lead to some sort of societal and economic collapse it’s unlikely at this point but not extremely farfetched either. At the very least it’s certainly an exercise worth taking, and a story worth exploring for a talented team of writers that are willing to do it. If that – or something close to that – is what the day before is trying to do then we could be in for a rather provocative and brave story here. Again, you don’t really see stories in games like this that actually directly reference current events and challenge the player to see the world a little differently than they maybe otherwise would and empathize with this new perspective.
And there are good reasons why we don’t see that very often, because if it’s not handled with great care, it can lead to a lot of backlash, bad reviews, and poor sales. And with game development being as expensive as it is today, and with many game studios sinking or swimming based on the success of every given project, it’s understandable that few would want to take a risk like that. But at the same time, it is a risk that can yield high rewards just as easily if it’s done well, so if the developer is going in the direction that they appear to be going in with the narrative for this game, and aren’t just using modern economic struggles as a backdrop or an aesthetic, we could be in for one of the better stories of the year in which this game releases which very well could be this year.
More importantly than story though is of course the game play, and this is where, I think, the game is showing the most promise. Just from this trailer we can see that the game allows you to drive around, explore city streets, enter into seemingly any building to collect resources, and even explore the verticality of some larger buildings in the city as the character here travels up an elevator to some higher floor full of office space, and what appears to be some zombies working overtime. Before that though it showed the character getting out of a car and talking to one of his friends. The audio sounded like it was two players talking to each other through chat headsets, but given that the characters mouths and body language to match what was being said, it also sort of gave the impression that it was the characters in the game at the same time.
So ultimately, I’m not exactly sure which one the trailer was trying to convey, or if they’re trying to indicate that in-game character models are just really good at matching game chat? Any of these outcomes are fine I suppose but that was a little confusing for me. Although once the character got into the first building, which she appeared to be some sort of record store, it became quite clear that this game is just as interested in keeping the importance of indoor locations just as high as the outdoor city streets, which is a good sign. Again, many open world games like this tend to focus most of their efforts on one or the other so if this philosophy holds true in a consistent way that would make this game a lot deeper than most of its contemporaries. From here you see a little bit of shooting and you wouldn’t be blamed for being reminded of Days Gone or The Last of Us with all the slick animations and that Naughty Dog-style circle aiming reticle. The game didn’t really go into how they were going to handle upgrades, crafting, or resource management, but it does seem to be the type of game that will probably have those elements in one form or another, so fans of the pillars of the action-adventure role-playing game genre should definitely keep an eye on this one.
All of that said, despite what a well-put-together trailer this is, there are also reasons to have a little bit of healthy skepticism here. First, the developer Fntastic, doesn’t seem to have a lot of experience in this genre per se. According to their website they only have two other games under their belt. The Radiant One; an overhead story-driven game with a simplistic art style and an average of 7 out of 10 on Steam and The Wild Eight, which also sports a low poly art style but does seem to be like a slightly more ambitious survival game. It also averages in 7 out of 10 on Steam. Those two games look like they are fine for what they are, but they also don’t seem like they’re even remotely in the same universe as The Day Before. Which isn’t to say that a developer can’t take great leaps into new horizons and stick the landing just fine, but that big of a leap for such a small studio does seem like it warrants an eyebrow raise or two.
There’s also the reality that post-apocalyptic zombie survival games are a dime a dozen and have been for a long time. No matter how good this game actually is, without some sort of hook or unique idea that hasn’t really been done before, it’s going to be quite an uphill climb to get noticed in a sustained way among so many highly anticipated games coming out in these exciting times. And if it’s multiplayer focused, a sizable audience is all the more crucial. Crazier things have happened though, so for now all we can really do is wish this team the best and keep our eyes open for new information.
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