By Josh Speer / November 6th, 2019
|Title||Day and Night|
|Release Date||October 22nd, 2019|
|Age Rating||E for Everyone|
As a fan of games like Tetris, I had to play Day and Night. It styles itself as an ode to the classic puzzle game, though I saw far more in common with a different game – Tetris Attack. Both games deal more with square blocks than abstract shapes composed of squares, and both are much more complex than they might first appear. In this particular case, you move groups of 4 blocks at a time, and can rotate them around to match 4 or more like blocks. The question then is whether Day and Night rose to the level of puzzle classic, or whether it fell short of its inspiration?
The first thing that stood out to me about Day and Night was the theme. Apparently everything in the game takes place in a theater, with children acting out various roles, from ferocious lions to mustache twirling gentlemen to pirates and witches, with lots more besides. Even the field of play looks akin to something constructed for a elementary school drama, with a cardboard tree in the center. Now, while I am not offended by the visual style of the game, it also didn’t impress me. It frankly reminded me of a less repugnant version of South Park. Unfortunately, even toned down, I would still find the art of South Park simplistic at best, and ugly at worst. And though I can apply the same complaint to the art style here, there is a silver lining. Namely, despite the underwhelming art, Day and Night hides a surprisingly complex and robust game.
Once the game starts, you are offered a gameplay tutorial, and I strongly suggest you let yourself be put through the paces. There’s a lot to remember, but the basic mechanic is strongly related to the title. It’s called Day and Night, and you will make use of Day and Night blocks accordingly. The kicker is that you can only use each type of block when the field matches it. When you fill up a meter by clearing blocks, the screen will change from Day to Night. If you haven’t cleared all the blocks off the board when it changes, those blocks will be essentially inert until you switch things again. You also might get blocks that don’t match the current field, so it behooves you to stack them so that when things change, they’ll instantly give you some points.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a chain meter. After you or your opponent fills this up, eventually some garbage blocks will make a mess. That is, unless you make your own chains fast enough to turn off the bulbs. I admit I wasn’t amazing with the chains, but do like that they add a strong competitive element to the game. A feature I liked far more were the Season blocks in Day and Night. These all have a different shape, with green leaves and icy blocks as examples. Each of these provides a distinct effect when you match 4 of them. The green leaves will bury a green shoot on the opponent’s field, which grows and envelops other blocks, making them temporarily unusable. As for the icy blocks, when dropped they create a temporarily impermeable layer, at least until it melts. Besides these, there’s other special blocks, such as the black hole blocks and stone blocks. Black hole blocks will gobble up every block of the same type it touches, while stone blocks will crash through everything underneath them. The cool thing is that depending on how you place any of the blocks on the field, you can control when they activate by either dropping them quickly or slowly pushing them down. This added a great strategic element to the already complex mechanics.
There are several modes of play in Day and Night. The main one is Story mode, which has you play through various acts as your chosen avatar to win. While I enjoyed Story mode, it was also a bit short. It probably didn’t help that each avatar plays exactly the same. Thankfully there’s the standard Versus mode, which lets you face off against an AI or human opponent. One of my personal favorites was Survival mode, which as you would imagine has you play until you lose. One cool element is this mode uses randomized seasonal changes to keep things fresh. Your chain meter also rewards you with helpful items when you fill it up, such as bombs. If you want more of a challenge, there’s the Dares mode, which has you beat the AI with very special conditions active. Some examples are playing with the screen upside down or with reversed controls. Much like Story mode, these Dares were fun, but there weren’t enough of them to keep me busy for long. You can also use Rehearsal mode to practice against the AI, but I found once I started playing, this wasn’t really necessary. Ultimately, I enjoyed all the modes in the game, but felt they didn’t last long enough. Thankfully, I was able to spend much more time invested in Versus and Survival.
If you’re looking for more time to spend in the game, there’s also some unlockable costumes. There’s an extensive wardrobe, which lets you clothe your avatar in a silly outfit. Some of these you’ll get just by playing through the modes, others are gated behind more ambitious requirements, such as beating the AI on the hardest difficulty or surviving for an extended period in Survival mode. By the time I finished playing the game, I had unlocked more than half the wardrobe, but there’s still a few I need to acquire.
As I said previously, visually I wasn’t that impressed by Day and Night. And that’s not cause it’s an ugly game exactly, but because it just is too generic and unimaginative. Sure, the kids doing a play theme is a bit different, but it’s also not that exciting. Some of their lines can be a bit cringe-worthy as well. If the game had instead opted for something more exotic, such as the Sun fighting the Moon, or aliens attacking celestial bodies, or even silliness akin to Kirby perhaps, I would have felt more invested. That said, the game is colorful, and the visual effects are appealing enough. The various wardrobe choices are also cute. Musically the game fares better. They wisely chose to stick to classical music, and there’s a ton of great tracks that shift as you play. Day and Night also uses sound effects effectively, and you can tell what’s happening just by listening. You’ll hear sprouts growing and fireworks popping. Altogether, though the art and sound aren’t life changing, they also didn’t distract me overmuch from enjoying the solid gameplay.
Now, while I have been critical of some aspects of Day and Night, I still feel quite strongly that this is one of the best puzzle games I’ve played in a long time. Because while I am not enamored of the aesthetics, I also acknowledge one of my favorite games of all time, Tetris, also doesn’t feature mind blowing art. So I can cut this game a little slack. Especially since the basic mechanics work so well, and are so engaging. I probably spent 2-3 hours playing Day and Night for review, and enjoyed every minute. And given that this is a Switch exclusive, and it only costs $19.99, I strongly suggest puzzle fans which like playing on the go check this one out. I’m impressed by this entry from Ridiculous Games, and will eagerly stay tuned for their next project.
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
complexcuteDay and NightNintendo Switch exclusivepuzzleRidiculous GamesTetris