Day One: Garry's Incident Review

ClayMeow - 2013-10-09 13:21:33 in Gaming
Category: Gaming
Reviewed by: ClayMeow   
Reviewed on: October 17, 2013
Price: $19.99

Day One: Garry's Incident

Day One: Garry's Incident first appeared on my radar back in September 2012. If you're a frequent visitor of OCC, you may recall that I actually wrote a Steam Greenlight Spotlight on the game. Having been greenlit on June 28, 2013, Day One is finally available on Steam, so it only seemed natural to review it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let's start with the basics: Day One is an open-world, first-person survival game. Protagonist Garry Friedman has crash-landed in the Amazonian jungle due to a combination of a volcanic eruption and some mysterious artifacts in his cargo. It's now up to you to survive and escape the jungle. Though originally planned as an episodic adventure, the game is now purportedly one complete adventure (more on that in a bit).

 

Day One: Garry's Incident

The premise of Day One is an ambitious one for an indie developer to tackle and as such, it's unsurprisingly not without issues. The biggest issue is that the game feels incomplete. It took me a mere five hours to beat the game and that was with getting lost, backtracking at one point, dying a lot, and doing a few completely meaningless side quests. A short play length isn't necessarily a bad thing, except that the game ends abruptly, followed by a screen thanking you for your support and inviting you to visit the studio's Facebook page to offer your opinions and suggestions for the "next chapter." Coupled with the abrupt ending that I will not spoil, it makes the experience feel very much like it's still an episodic one. For the $20 price tag, I expected something more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While it does feel a bit incomplete, there is promise and potential. Developer Wild Games Studio has said that it will be adding new content and game modes for free. If that happens, the value of the game will certainly increase. But I cannot review a game based on its future possibilities, so for now, it's hard to recommend at the current asking price.

The incomplete feel aside, I did actually enjoy the game. Despite recycling textures, the environments look nice and believable, especially the jungle – the foliage is dense, just as you'd expect it. That being said, don't expect Far Cry or Crysis levels of foliage-interactivity – the grass and branches don't move when you brush by them, nor can you take down a tree with some well-placed bullets. Wild Games Studio did a great job with visual immersion, but fell flat beyond that. In addition, there's also the matter of invisible walls preventing you from jumping atop rocks that otherwise seem very reachable. I have no problem with the use of invisible walls on the edges of the map, but I see no reason why the player shouldn't be allowed to traverse all the terrain within the confines of the map. Even though it does little to disrupt the gameplay, it does seem like an arbitrary restriction and one that diminishes the open-world feel.

 

 

 

Day One: Garry's Incident

One thing that certainly helps with immersion is the lack of a map for the jungle. While this means you'll likely get lost a couple times, it's much more realistic – remember that you crashed here, so why would you have a map to a place you had no plans on being in? That being said, in the game's second major area (an underground labyrinth), you are presented with a map etched in the wall at various locations – without which I would have probably been ripping my hair out in frustration, as there's a reason it's called a labyrinth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While traversing the jungles, along with the infected tribesmen and monkeys, you'll undoubtedly encounter a few black panthers. I bring this up specifically because the panthers represent both the good and the bad with the game. The good is that they created great tension and fear. On several occasions, I'd be walking through the jungle and suddenly hear purring. When that happened, I'd frantically search all around me for its source, knowing that I could be pounced upon at any second. That is exactly how one should feel in a survival game! Unfortunately, the bad is what happens next – when the panther finds you, cue a quick-time event (QTE). Not once was I ever able to kill a panther before it jumped me and engaged the QTE – they quickly went from the best part of the game to an absolute chore.

 

 

QTEs are unfortunately a huge part of Day One. In fact, the very first time you gain control of Garry, it's via a QTE. As any of my friends could tell you, I loathe QTEs, so that certainly wasn't a good first impression. QTEs are later used in all forms of crafting and bandaging. But surprisingly, I actually quite liked it for those instances – it was only that initial scene and the panthers that bothered me. The reason for that is because it made crafting and bandaging feel more interactive instead of just clicking a button and waiting for the results. I found the bandaging in particular quite a nice compromise between regenerating health and one-click health packs – you could actually be attacked while bandaging if you weren't careful, which meant you couldn't simply heal in the middle of combat. The crafting is also very generous in that, if you happen to fail a QTE, you do not lose any supplies.

 

 

Day One: Garry's Incident

Aside from the crafting, the big sell of the game is that it's a survival adventure game – a genre that is typically underrepresented. Sadly, Day One falls a bit short under that characterization. While the game features both a hunger bar and thirst bar, food and water is never in short supply. You'll find a plentiful amount of mangos and bananas, which fills your hunger bar a small amount, or you can cook fish and meat (after crafting a fire), either of which will fill up your hunger bar completely. When you get thirsty, you simply have to press C (by default) while at any water source to fill your thirst gauge completely. If you want to be safe, you can craft a leather flask to hold one swig of water for when you're not near a water source, but even while in the underground labyrinth, there were plenty of sources of water that I never actually needed to use the flask. And that's the crux of the problem – the survival elements may be there, but I never actually felt any urgency. The studio has said it will add in weather and shelter, as well as an endless survival mode outside of the story mode, but until that happens, the survival aspect of the game is minimal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Combat is also rather simplistic, though it can be rather difficult early on when you're equipped with a mere machete and just a small amount of ammo for an old-school pistol. An update to the game has since made combat a bit easier, but when I played prior to the update, it was extremely easy to get killed until I deployed a hit-and-run-and-repeat method of attacking. There is a block command in the game, but it merely reduces damage rather than negates it (half damage when I played it; quarter damage after an update). As such, I found that the best method for dispatching tribesmen (when I didn't want to use my gun), was to start my machete swing as I approached an enemy so that it would hit when I got near, then backtrack while holding SHIFT to retreat faster, then repeat that action until the enemy was killed (four hits prior to the update). However, once I got to the underground labyrinth, I typically had more than enough ammo for my 9mm (superior to the old-school pistol), and was able to dispatch enemies with two shots to the head or torso.

 

Day One: Garry's Incident

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day One: Garry's Incident

When I first previewed Day One, I said that the "concept is a compelling one." That is still true, but it does fall a bit short on execution. There's potential there for a good, if not great game, but it hasn't quite gotten there yet. Fortunately, the developer seems dedicated to fixing bugs, improving the game, and listening to customer suggestions – so that alone is reason enough to keep your eye on this.

I personally did not encounter any game-breaking bugs, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that several people have. In my five hour playthrough, I encountered just one missing texture (on a random, meaningless pot in the labyrinth) and one crash. I ran the game at 1920x1080 with all the graphics options turned on with my current system running an i7 3770K, GTX460, and 16GB RAM on Windows 7 64-bit. One thing I will say, based on customer feedback, is that the game does not like integrated graphics solutions or multi-GPU setups, so if you cannot disable those and run a single discrete card, don't even bother with this game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I mentioned earlier in the review, I do not feel the current $20 price tag is justified at this time, but with a little work, Wild Games Studio can certainly change that. The studio has already done a great job squashing bugs and fulfilling player requests (including FOV adjustment added just prior to release based on customer feedback), so the potential is certainly there. At the very least, add Day One to your wishlist so Steam notifies you when it goes on sale. By the time the next big Steam Sale comes around, the game may be updated enough where it becomes a steal.