The Day Before Review – Scam City

Fntastic's last game before shutting down is a disaster on every front. It's irredeemably bad and yet somehow immensely boring.

Posted By | On 14th, Dec. 2023

The Day Before Review – Scam City

Do you ever play a game so bad that you genuinely wonder if it’s an achievement? Do the hours and years that went into development really mean anything when the end product is so horrendous? When something seems so bad that it’s good, but quickly transcends into being utterly boring? Like you’re not so much playing the game as watching your life slip away in the most brain-rot-inducing way possible? At what point is it not worth checking out, outside of the fact that you can’t because said title was pulled from sale after the developer declared its closure?

I have. It’s called The Day Before, and it’s not a steaming hot mess but a cold, dilapidated boat left on the coast to rot and awaiting the day it can be dragged underwater by the encroaching waves. There’s been plenty of controversy over the game, especially with developer Fntastic announcing its closure after merely four days of launch, to say nothing of the delays, awful gameplay reveals, statements on not wanting to be called scammers etc.

"Up to release and right now on the Steam Early Access page, Fntastic lies about the game."

It’s even more insane because The Day Before was supposed to be an early access title with six to eight months of support. Instead, it’s a disaster, a reminder of the dangers of hype and, for all intents and purposes, a scam.

What is The Day Before? Let’s start with what it’s not – an open-world survival MMO. You don’t spawn on this massive map and scrounge resources to set up a base, cook meals, weather storms, unlock more recipes, and maybe do something crazy. Fight bosses, earn powerful weapons, tame creatures to use as mounts, delve into the world and unravel its mysteries – really anything done better in several other games. None of that defines The Day Before, which is an extraction shooter, but we’ll get to how it fails in those respects as well. Up to release and right now on the Steam Early Access page, Fntastic lies about the game.

When starting, you must create a character with various “types” having barely different traits that don’t impact how you play the game. That sounds neat until you see mid-tier hairstyles, faces and other options available. I can understand not having shorter or taller characters because of hitboxes, but the customization still feels barebones. It’s also worth noting that clicking “Random” in the face category seemingly reset my chosen type. A bug, possibly, but the worst was yet to come.

The game starts with people rescuing someone from what seems to be an accident. That someone is you, and upon waking, you meet Lenard, a doctor. After getting acquainted with the various vendors of Woodberry in this post-apocalyptic world, it’s off to New Fortune City to fulfil their requests and scavenge essential supplies like car batteries, guitar lessons and medicines. Like the settlement’s name, every NPC is absolutely wooden in their delivery, with forgettable dialogue and two-dimensional personalities.

The Day Before_06

"The requests are randomly generated and constantly cycle between the same boring items to collect."

Despite having some semblance of an intro, that’s pretty much all there is to The Day Before’s plot and characters. You could hear rumors about the Azure Initiative and how it set up a bunker under a farm or how its satellites are still running (prompting a visit to their building where quite a few infected await).

However, none of it has any bearing on anything. You hear about a prison taken over by inmates who would become pirates (not the sea-faring kind), and it sounds somewhat interesting. Until it’s revealed that they left in search of something better, leaving another abandoned building on top of the rest.

The requests are mind-numbing and always revolve around finding an item or three. One task involved collecting car batteries, naturally located in ATMs and file cabinets in the bank. Another task for collecting medicines? Probably one of those was actually inside the two pharmacies visited. The requests are randomly generated and constantly cycle between the same boring items to collect. If there’s nothing but fetch quests, couldn’t the game at least mix things up? Of course, the reason for that becomes abundantly clear after spending more than a few minutes in New Fortune City.

You receive Woodberry Coins and reputation points for completing requests, which feel unsatisfactory for the time they take to complete (and this is after buffs). Some of the best weapons, armor, backpacks and attachments are tied to reputation, so even if you amass a small fortune by selling everything extracted, you’re gated by the piddly amounts of reputation points each request gives. Those are ideal situations though – if you die, you get nothing.

The Day Before_07

"Even if you embrace the extraction shooter design, The Day Before doesn’t do that well either. There is a complete lack of interesting things to do in the city."

Everything carried is lost, and you’re given a measly 500 Woodcoins to buy a handgun and some ammo (enough to kill three zombies, maybe). Better hope you get lucky and find better weapons/more ammo on the next raid, but also keep some space for fulfilling that request. Not that it matters because when turning in quest items, the game can’t remove them from your backpack if it’s full and give you Woodcoins (which take up space).

You have to make room, and if you have the lowest-level backpack like I did after getting ganked, then tough luck. I had to sell my handgun, ammo, beanie, and food to buy a backpack for more space and then complete the task to get my rewards.

Even if you embrace the extraction shooter design, The Day Before doesn’t do that well either. There is a complete lack of interesting things to do in the city. No random events, tasks or bounties. Every store seemingly has the same alarm system where you need to guess the keycode, and it’s always a crapshoot. At least they give you two or three tries – fail, and the beeping gets louder, attracting the infected. Or not, which is another issue on top of the other dozen to get into.

Most of the buildings are closed off. Those that are open have little to no interactivity outside of materials to loot for requests, weapons, ammo, clothes (which aren’t unlocked as cosmetic options but exist as separate items), and heaps of junk. It makes New Fortune City feel less like a lived-in environment that’s been abandoned and more like terrible set dressing.

The Day Before_01

"Weapons also can’t be modified without a workbench – obviously inspired by The Last of Us but at odds with the extraction shooter genre."

Compare this to something like Massive Entertainment’s The Division. You could remove all the phone recordings, ECHOS, Survival Guides, Crashed Drones and whatnot, and each area still feels distinct. Parks are mass grave sites, burned-out buildings (some with CDC tarps covering them) – even areas that try to imbue some manner of environmental story-telling instead of being “Generic Post-apocalyptic Building #15.” I don’t expect New Fortune City to be in ruins, but seeing so many skyscrapers in pristine conditions doesn’t help what little immersion remains.

The infected are completely random in how often they appear. You may stumble across a few and have some more join as you run and backpedal constantly (the lack of any evasive maneuvers or melee combat makes things extremely uncomfortable). They’re also tanky, sometimes taking two to three headshots from a rifle to kill.

However, most other times, you wander the streets, spot one or two, gun them down and move on. I often saw an infected fall out of a car, which added some tension. Then it happened a dozen more times and got boring, except for that one occasion where an infected glitched and stood, unmoving, in the middle of the vehicle.

Opening some containers is frustrating – you must perfectly position your character to get the prompt. It leads to awkward shuffling until the exact correct position is achieved. You can’t equip clothing or use items when in the looting menu. You must loot them first, and then open your inventory to use them. Weapons also can’t be modified without a workbench – obviously inspired by The Last of Us but at odds with the extraction shooter genre.

The Day Before_02

"There’s also no mantling, vaulting, toggle shift to run, or climbing ladders, which makes the exploration even more tedious and annoying."

There are only three viable extraction points concentrated in the Northern part of the city, making it easy to get ganked by stronger players (as happened with me at one point). You could always extract without a backpack in other places, which sounds so asinine for a game whose entire loop revolves around looting and nothing else. Why not just make these regular extraction points? It’s not encouraging PvP so much as allowing for easy ganks.

When using the map, you stop in one place and can’t navigate it with the mouse – WASD or the scroll wheel, for some reason, must be used. No zooming out and placing waypoint markers. You can’t even track more than one request at a time, and it doesn’t even tell you the remaining items required when pinned on the top left. No compass either, so have fun constantly opening the map to see where you’re going because every street looks and feels the same.

There’s also no mantling, vaulting, toggle shift to run, or climbing ladders, which makes the exploration even more tedious and annoying. Get used to those messages from vendors telling you to complete the same dumb requests as before. How many checkups do I need, Lenard? What are you really doing with all the insulin and inhalers, Lenard?

Performance in The Day Before is just plain odd. Sometimes, it runs decently – not amazing at High settings, but well enough. Then, on certain occasions, the frame rate will dip despite nothing happening, which I can only attribute to poor optimization (it also occurs when returning from raids). I could slightly forgive this if the graphics were decent, but they’re bland and uninspired.

The Day Before_04

"You get a plot of land early on to build some housing, starting with a shabby tent. Do the infected not attack this far out of the city? Either way, it serves no purpose."

The same goes for the glitches. On my first raid, after getting a free weapon from Woodberry, I was in the middle of a request, and when getting ready to shoot some infected, my game crashed due to a “Fatal Error.” Upon loading back in, I was in the same spot with the same zombies attacking, except everything was gone. No backpack or weapons – not even the items I looted for the request. What a great way to start off the game. There’s also no hope for fixes because, as mentioned already, Fntastic is seemingly no more.

I could go on with The Day Before’s multitude of issues. There is a gym for exercising and raising your max stamina. The minimal increase didn’t feel worth the 50 Woodberry Coins or the waiting period for the awkward animation to finish. You can also purchase vehicles for hefty amounts of coins, which is unnecessary since New Fortune City feels surprisingly small. Trying to farm that amount also feels like a senseless grind, even if you want to get to the extraction point faster.

You get a plot of land early on to build some housing, starting with a shabby tent. Do the infected not attack this far out of the city? Either way, it serves no purpose. You can decorate it, for whatever reason, except pretty much everything costs exorbitant amounts. Maybe it’s a holdover from when the game was still a survival MMO if it ever was.

Speaking of survival mechanics, you have the rudimentary eating food and drinking water. You can also use medkits to heal injuries. Injuries are so random at times – a single hit from an infected enemy at full health can cause bleeding, break an arm or do nothing because consistency is overrated.

the day before

"I struggled and found a single redeeming thing about The Day Before – you can no longer buy it. You can’t waste your money or receive it as a gift."

The Day Before isn’t what it was hyped to be, but expectations were in check after so many delays and controversies. That doesn’t change the fact that it has an awkward and barebones UI, nonexistent progression, dodgy optimization, an uninteresting setting with cobbled-together environments, lackadaisical gunplay and lackluster movement. All of this bolted onto a gameplay loop that even free games like HoloCure put to shame.

I struggled and found a single redeeming thing about The Day Before – you can no longer buy it. You can’t waste your money or receive it as a gift. It means you can try dozens – heck, hundreds of other games this year that are far more deserving and finally move on from ever having to hear about this disaster again.

This game was reviewed on PC.


THE GOOD

Not one single thing.

THE BAD

Not an open-world survival MMO as advertised. Performance is haphazard, with questionable optimization and glitches that can wipe out your inventory. No mantling, vaulting, melee or sprint to toggle. Terrible map system with no waypoints or a compass. Repetitive requests from wooden vendors with zero personality. The plot of land for home building does nothing. Extremely grindy, especially if you want to earn the best weapons and tools. Awful environment design with little to no zombies or events. Boring gameplay loop with unenjoyable gunplay.

Final Verdict:
WORST
There's a reason the phrase "Buyer beware" remains relevant, and it's because of games like The Day Before. The only bright side to its miserable existence is you can no longer purchase it.
A copy of this game was provided by Developer/Publisher/Distributor/PR Agency for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.
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