Review: Day One: Garry’s Incident

(No longer available on Steam)

Five years is a long time in the video game world, time enough for whole genres to become bloated with shovelware and asset-flips. Five years ago Day One: Garry’s Incident was making a bold push for the coveted Worst Game On Steam title, but the failings that left it so brutalized by critics almost seem quaint compared to the modern deluge of skeletal Unity survival games. I mean, Garry’s Incident has original art assets, it has a jungle you can run around in to collect mangos and dental floss, and it has enemies that will warp through floors and teleport into your face to kill you. That puts it leagues beyond modern shovelware, but if we can be real for a second here, it still doesn’t make it any sort of good.

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We join high-functioning alcoholic and part-time pilot Garry as he struggles to drink from a bottle of whisky in his office. He’s just awoken from a terrible dream about a rather pleasant lady when he gets the call that his package is ready. Next thing you know he’s flying high over a forest when it explodes (the forest), sending him and his plane plummetting to Earth. But before his tale ends there, a magical crate begins glowing and transports him to a mysterious jungle of pyramids, tribal villages, and human sacrifices. He narrowly escapes being sacrificed himself and grabs some kind of alien weapon before escaping a crumbling temple and setting off to find a way home.

Did you get all that? Don’t worry if you didn’t, because it’s a jumbled mess of scenes that doesn’t have much relevance to the gameplay. You’re stuck in the jungle and you need to find a way back to civilization, which will involve a lot of crafting and a lot of shooting monkeys. The crafting comes hand-in-hand with the survival elements, which require you to feed and water your face every five minutes and otherwise make gear to complete missions and progress. The shooting will come up anytime you try to go anywhere in the jungle, because aside from the female tribespeople everyone and everything in the wilderness wants you dead.

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This is by no means a bad hook for a game, and if not for the sinfully confusing intro it would definitely make a better impression. But the moment you actually try to do anything in the game, it falls apart. Crafting, for example, requires you to guess which items in your inventory will combine, like mixing bird feathers to make fish bait. You can find some crafting recipies stenciled on skins and statues but most of the time it’s guesswork. Finding those recipies will put you up against enemies like panthers and tribesmen who will rush at you swinging their weapon and clipping through the floor. There’s dozens of them too, in just a single area, which really just makes exploration devolve into tedium because taking them down one at a time is safe and easy, but aggroing too many at once is certain death.

And that really gets to the heart of the problem here, nothing you do is fun or works well or even makes much sense. Your journal will fill up with tasks to complete, and sometimes you’ll get sparkles on the ground telling you where to go and sometimes you won’t. I had them guide me to the village that I could already see from where I started, but I still haven’t found my plane in the stupid jungle and I’m starting to doubt it even exists. Amidst all this is the fact that it just doesn’t play well at all, with stiff movements and jerky animations and an eye-straining art style that prevents you from really focusing on anything for long. I could gripe all day about the bizarre design decisions or the terrible presentation but what really matters is that it feels like garbage to play, and no amount of so-bad-it’s-good quirkiness can get around that.

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