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The Day Before Early Access Review

Editor’s Note: Faster than we could publish our early access review, the developer
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and The Day Before was
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. The servers remain up for those who have bought it and not yet refunded, but since our reviewer went to the trouble of playing it, it seems only right that you should get to read what he thought of the experience while it lasted.


Five long years. That’s the amount of development time the (now-defunct) developer FNTASTIC supposedly took to assemble The Day Before. This wholly disappointing online zombie survival shooter contains essentially nothing of what was originally promised over the years leading up to its disastrous early access release. Not only is it not an MMO, but it hardly passes as a survival shooter, and I barely had time to put in a handful of hours before it went belly-up. During the very first – and, it turns out, the only – weekend I spent with it, I ran into such severe performance issues on my GeForce RTX 4070 Ti and Ryzen 3900x-equipped PC that it would’ve felt like a waste of my time to continue anyway. That is, even if the only thing to do in The Day Before – run around its questionably designed city, collecting loot until you either die or manage to bring enough back to purchase better gear for the next trip – was any fun to begin with.


There’s a basic yet functional story here: you wake up on a makeshift hospital bed in a ramshackle survivor camp in a decently-sized metropolis based loosely on New York City. It’s filled with questionable artwork and decals that look precariously similar to existing logos used by real-world businesses, but that might be forgivable if it was a parody. (Is it? That’s for the courts to decide.) Unfortunately, its generic survivors seem to take its zombie outbreak seriously, though it’s unclear where the zombies are coming from or why I should care about what happened to this unimaginative world.

After a decently-paced tutorial, The Day Before comes up short on even the most basic features one would expect in any survival game. Gone are the dynamic environments and tight firefights shown off in its now mysteriously absent trailers; instead, you’ll mostly spend your time running around a static cityscape that looks pretty at first glance… but offers absolutely no depth. You might find a zombie or two while scavenging for loot, but they rarely pose any threat.

I’d have more fun hiding in a dumpster surrounded by actual zombies.

What shocked me most about The Day Before was the notable absence of almost any UI. Sure, there’s a touchscreen display for your quests – which you can only track one of at a time – as well as a makeshift map, which is clunky to use because (after the long animation to set it up) you have to navigate it exclusively with your WASD keys, leaving your character a sitting duck while you do. The inventory screen is also barebones, and even if you manage to find yourself in the same squad with other players, it’s almost impossible to figure out where they are or even if they’re still on your team.

Not only is there no multiplayer menu – there’s no voice chat either, so if you really want to you’ll have to friend up and use Steam’s chat or Discord. At least you can communicate with your party in a rudimentary in-game chat window, but even getting that to work properly is an exercise in patience. I’d have had a more enjoyable time actually hiding under a dumpster surrounded by zombies than waiting for The Day Before’s multiplayer to work right.


Since there isn’t much guidance at all, I had to find out the hard way that The Day Before wasn’t simply not telling me how to do certain things – like melee combat, or setting up camp in the alleged “open world” – it literally doesn’t have those features at all. That’s right: if you find yourself running around without a gun for some reason, good luck outrunning these absolutely brainless zombies because your hands and feet are useless. And better luck next time.

The Day Before is not an MMO, or even an open world, despite claims from its developer that it would be both of those things. Instead, it’s fundamentally an extraction shooter with only one goal: sluggishly run around the (mostly empty) city, grab some loot, and get to one of the extraction points before you die. There’s no persistent progression system at all, and the only things you carry over between runs are any gear you manage to take with you, as well as any currency you save up by selling the scraps of loot you successfully schlep back to base. If you somehow die before making it home (which is the norm thanks to an unrestricted free-for-all PvP system) you lose everything you had on your body – meaning you’ll often progress backward as the small number of coins provided to every new character dwindles. You don’t respawn with a weapon or any basic gear, so in theory, it would only take three or four early deaths to end up with a useless character.

NPCs are so dryly written and voiced they sound like the result of an AI.

You at least get a small bit of currency if you didn’t have any left in your storage after dying to offset this, which is enough to buy one little handgun and a few bullets. This is done at the main outpost, Woodberry, which serves as a headquarters for your daily operations. That zone is set up well enough, with a clear layout to keep you situated. There are merchants, a few NPCs that spout bland set-dressing dialogue, and a storage area for your loose gear and currency. It’s cool that it’s also populated by other players between loot runs, and it’s great that you can team up with anyone while you’re in this hub. It’s significantly less cool, however, that the hub area’s NPCs – the only NPCs in The Day Before, mind you – are so dryly written and unenthusiastically voice-acted that they sound like the poor result of a generative AI.

It’s difficult to forgive that on its own, but it’s even harder still when you realize there’s genuinely no story content after the first thirty or so minutes it takes to complete the tutorial. There’s also no reason to do any of its procedurally-generated quests - which have you looting random items for an NPC back at camp - other than to earn a meager amount of extra currency, which really makes it suck that you can only take on one at a time.


Except for the useless ranch area – where you can dump currency into furniture, even though it’s off to the side and doesn’t do anything to help you – The Day Before almost entirely takes place outdoors during the day, and there are no unique weather effects to shake things up. The landscape of New Fortune City is a largely static zone with limited space, where the most exciting thing you’ll find is an occasional container with one or two pieces of junk loot. But despite these lackluster environments, the framerate struggled to remain stable on my mid-end gaming PC. It had trouble staying consistent even with DLSS and Frame Generation turned on, and the constant bugs and stuttering made it downright annoying to push through.

There are no unique zombie encounters or bosses, either, and very little in the way of landmarks or special areas containing different types of loot. The few there are only seem to exist to house unique gear, not that they were very good at it – for example, you could expect to find something like a suit of riot armor or a shotgun in a police armory, but these spots are generally empty instead, and usually only serve to make excellent traps for other, more coordinated bands of players to gank you for all of your hard-earned scrap.

You’ll struggle to afford any guns that pack a real punch.

Surviving all the way to extraction is frustratingly difficult on higher-population servers, even with a squad by your side, thanks to a limited number of extraction points on the map – all of which are situated next to chokepoints constantly abused by more powerful groups that can instantly stop you from progressing at all. Not only is this unfair and unfun on its own, but there’s currently an unfixed currency duplication glitch – which means you can bet most of those other players are cheating to get high-powered armor and weapons. Now that FNTASTIC is no more, the hopes of that ever getting fixed are slim to none.

The good news here is at least that there’s a surprisingly decent variety of weapons, ranging from handguns to scoped sniper rifles. In all, there are around 14 or so options available at the weapon dealer in town, though you’ll struggle to afford anything that packs a real punch until you’ve survived enough rounds gathering loot (or until you’ve cheated your way into wealth). It’s nice that you can invest in upgrades like scopes and muzzle attachments, which you can still conveniently attach to your weapons at the workshop in town; though there is no mobile crafting system, as was promised pre-release. Weapons also handle reasonably well, though their cheap and underwhelming sound design leaves a lot to be desired.


The bigger your backpack, the more loot you can carry – but just like everything else in your inventory, you’ll lose your backpack, armor, clothing, and anything else in your inventory as soon as you die. This sucks because backpacks are relatively expensive to replace, and you essentially need one in order to haul anything worthwhile back from a run. If you’re lucky, you might be able to find one on another player’s corpse, but it’s more likely you’ll be under-equipped and unprepared to fight anyone if you find yourself in a tight spot, money-wise.

There are also cars for some reason, even though they’re exorbitantly expensive (costing upwards of millions of currency) and essentially useless. They’re so fragile that it doesn’t take too much to make them explode, sending all the currency they took to get up in flames in an instant. Adding insult to injury, the car explosion animation is so pathetic and underwhelming that you can’t even enjoy losing all your hard-earned coins. The silver lining, if you can even call it that, is that The Day Before didn't last long enough to implement a planned microtransaction system that promised to make all these currency problems even worse.

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