No As Much Fun As I Hoped

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After playing another similar title from 8Floors', Gnomes Garden, I decided to give DayD: Through Time a try. I didn't enjoy the first 25 levels of Gnomes Garden, but the last 24 were okay. They had a good balance of challenges and provided the necessary time to complete levels with a 3-star rating. I had also played the tower-based spin-off of DayD, Day D Tower Rush, and DDTR was alright. Based on these two games, I believed DayD: Through Time would be similar. Unfortunately, DayD: Through Time is more punitive than enjoyable. The 3-star time limits for this casual, puzzle-solving game are overly restrictive, and the map layouts are confusing. In Gnomes Garden, you used every resource node on a map. You upgraded nodes to increase resource output, and this strategy was necessary to earn a 3-star rating on most maps. Gnomes Garden is all about resource node upgrades; players won't 3-star levels unless they upgrade nodes. DayD: TT is the polar opposite. This game is designed to mislead you. A map will present 2-4 paths to the main objective, yet only one path is the "correct" path. Maps are littered with extra nodes and paths that, if utilized, prevent the player from obtaining a 3-star rating. If you invest the crystals, logs, clay, or food necessary to access these trick resources or resource nodes, you will not have enough time remaining for a 3-star rating. Unlike Gnomes Garden, which presented resource nodes players needed and let the player figure out how to leverage them (How many times do I upgrade this node? How many resources will I need from it?), DayD includes nodes that are time traps. This is not explained anywhere in-game; players are left to discover it by trial-and-error. Even resource nodes you need can be tricky time traps; if you upgrade them one or more times, the resources you invested may unknowingly prevent you from obtaining a 3-star rating. The game meant for you to not upgrade that node at all, or to only upgrade it once, and you upgraded it twice. Oops, you ran out of time. No 3-star rating for you. You literally have to count how many resources it costs to complete the main objective (plus the cost of removing all obstacles on the one path to it) and ONLY use resources for those things. There is almost no wiggle room with resource management. This rigidity is the opposite of a casual game. 


Wins don't feel relaxing or rewarding. They feel rushed and sickly, like you're barely crossing the finish line in time. The win doesn't provide a recharging sense of victory, only a minor sense of relief coupled with growing dread that the 30 remaining levels could be as bad as this one. If only 1 or 2 levels out of 20 had these design flaws, no big deal, but the overwhelming majority of the levels I've 3-starred share this "gotcha!" and "rush-rush-rush" map design. If the time limits were increased by 5-10 seconds, the game would flow better. As it is, this game doesn't seem like it was designed by a generous person, but rather a sickly, penny-pinching miser. 


While there are YouTube guides, I would argue relying on them defeats the purpose of a puzzle-solving game. Casual, puzzle-solving games should be just that: casual, with an emphasis on puzzle-solving. Navigating intentional developer deception and restrictive time limits drains the joy out of the experience. Having to replay the same level multiple times because the third star disappears just as the final objective is being completed also lowers the fun factor. The story idea is cool, and the graphics are okay, but DayD: Through Times is not what I hoped it would be: casual, fun, and relaxing. I can't recommend this game.


EDIT: In Settings, it is possible to toggle off the "Very difficult" setting which, by default, is toggled on. Strange design choice there. Toggling "Very difficult" off completely disables the timer, which makes it possible to 3-star every level regardless of how long you take to complete it. While some trophy hunters may rejoice at this, I found it disappointing. I didn't want the challenge of time management removed, simply modified by a few seconds. 


Disclaimer: Posts such as this seem to attract self-aggrandizing and critical comments such as "DayD: Through Time is so easy! I 100%'d the game in 35 seconds wearing a blindfold. You must suck!" Before attacking the messenger, consider this: the trophy Model Motivator/Use the Work Accelerator is unmissable on level 16. On PSN, that trophy currently sits at 33.1%. 2/3 of the people who played DayD: Through Time walked away before they'd finished the first third of the game. My guess is 67% of players didn't find this game to be as much fun as they were hoping either.

Edited by poetic_justice_

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