A day with glitches
What would you do if you suddenly woke up and everybody in your town was gone? Would you explore the town? Would you loot the stores? Would you mess around with that mysterious demonic pentagram that appeared out of nowhere in your living room? A Day Without Me is an interesting premise for a game with an eerie atmosphere, but doesn’t go anywhere substantial.
Your character looks like Minecraft Steve if he were some random townsperson who woke up the day after the apocalypse. A Day Without Me does a pretty decent job of setting a creepy tone throughout the game. The streets are devoid of life and are filled with vehicles turned over and splashes of blood everywhere. When you first set off on your adventure, you wonder to yourself “what happened here?”
Who needs reasons, anyway?
Unfortunately, that’s all the explanation you’re going to get. The game has plenty of puzzles to throw at you, and none of them are particularly difficult to solve. Some of the puzzles fill you with a genuine sense of creepiness, but it’s hard to piece together any sense of a cohesive narrative because the puzzles and chase sequences don’t seem to have any sort of meaning attached to them. On top of that, your character doesn’t speak or express himself in any manner besides falling over and dying when you step in fire or get run over by something. I scratched my head at the end of the game kind of just going, “what was any of that?”
The game is also mired in some technical issues. During the game, an objective is displayed on the top of the screen, so you always have an idea of where to go next. However, the objectives can sometimes also be confusing.
While it’s understandable that English isn’t the development team’s first language, in one instance, the translation and phrasing of an objective early in the game led me on a wild goose chase with no end in sight. It wasn’t until I emailed the developers asking about where I was stuck when I realized that when the objective said “Search Your Neighborhood”, it really meant “Search Your Neighbor”. I had spent more time than I wanted running all over the neighbourhood, hoping for an event to trigger, when in reality, the next objective was right next to where my last checkpoint was.
Is that horror or an error?
The game also has some progress-impeding glitches. There were several cases where I died too many times at a puzzle only for an object I needed to progress to just simply disappear completely or prevented me from interacting with it. Fortunately, I figured out an easy fix was just to uninstall and reinstall the game, and as a bonus, your progress isn’t erased. While the solution was easy, having to reinstall an entire game on Steam in order to refresh and progress shouldn’t be part of the gameplay.
There are also various collectables to find in the game, and many of them are based on Indonesian culture, memes, and the development team’s home country of Indonesia. While this was a neat idea, it was also a missed opportunity to come up with collectables that could have contributed to fleshing out the world-building or the overall narrative, especially since the player doesn’t know what’s going on in the main character’s head. As it stands, there’s no real incentive to go out of your way to gather the collectables as they don’t offer any rewards.
A Day Without Me offers a very simplistic adventure-horror experience that has some interesting ideas. The game’s trailer definitely showed potential glimpses of dealing with a big demonic threat in your town. However, the final product falls short in capitalizing on its concept.
[Reviewed on PC]