The Day Before

I’ve been searching for the ultimate open-world post-apocalyptic zombie survival game since the dawn of time — or, at the very least, for the last several years. Day Z has so far come the closest to scratching that itch, but let’s be honest: Day Z is certainly no Citizen Kane.

So with the announcement of The Day Before (with its The Last of Us font and all), it looks like we might have a real contender here.

Of course, this comes with the caveat that announcement trailers (and gameplay footage trailers in general) have a history of not being entirely representative of the final product. Add to that the heavy The Division reveal-trailer vibe I’m getting, and I guess you can say I’m more hopeful than excited, tempering my hype as is now the only appropriate response these days.

But from what we see in the trailer, there is reason to be hopeful. The visuals immediately caught me by surprise; I wasn’t expecting such a polished third-person feel (of course, my impressions are purely visual). Character animations and movements look solid, as do the general game physics and weight of characters and objects. The lighting is incredible, really setting the mood — for as much as we can see in the night-time excursion depicted in the trailer.

But I am always concerned whenever “player dialogue” is forced into a trailer in a way that feels more cringey than genuine. And this trailer reeks of it. This always strikes me as publisher snobbery, a sort of smarmy, “We know how gamerz talk,” Steve-Buscemi-as-a-high-school-kid-poser approach to endearing themselves to the gaming community at large. It sounds fake as hell, only serving to belittle gaming enthusiasts.

Steve Buscemi Meme

And, not to go off on a tangent here, but why not just capture people actually playing the game? Why go for this canned, filmed-in-front-of-a-live-studio-audience representation of “gamerz” (whatever that’s supposed to mean)? We all know it’s fake, and we all think it’s lame.

“Maybe I can sell my junk there and get myself a better rifle.”

“Lets find some fuel and go.”

Translation: “We are robots… beep boop…”

But I digress. Aside from the obviously fake player dialogue, this also feels sort of like that first Watch Dogs trailer from E3 2012, or the Anthem reveal trailer from E3 2017.

I think what we’re seeing here is probably representative of how the game will ultimately play, but it all looks very staged and crafted as opposed to live and random. From the pop-up button prompts to the character sort-of-only-kind-of interacting with the world to the barebones inventory menu, it feels not quite like a random snippet of gameplay and more like an orchestrated in-engine cutscene.

The Day Before

And I know, I know… I started this article by saying The Day Before looks like the type of game I have been clamoring for, and I really do hope for the best here. But I do think cautious optimism is the order of the day. I want to get hyped. I want to wrap myself in the dulcet tones of the narrator, who sounds like a constipated Rob Lowe. But I think a concise digestion of this trailer and some upfront analysis is more prudent.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be keeping this on your radar to see how it shapes up. With any luck, this will be my Xanadu.

You can watch The Day Before‘s announcement trailer for yourself and come to your own conclusions.

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