App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Although there are some reasons to be somewhat hopeful or relieved lately, there's still a lot of things that are Not Great. It's only natural for artists (including game developers) to examine some of society's ills and use that to communicate some deeper message about what that says about us as people. In the case of Day Repeat Day, the depressing life of grinding out a career in a mega corporation brings to light many of the moral quandaries you might encounter in this position, but then doesn't do a whole lot with them.
Life's a Joki
In the dystopian world of Day Repeat Day, the Joki corporation has developed a labor system that is so gamified that it just looks like a match-three game. As an employee of this commercial giant, you spend your work days matching fruits to complete challenges, all while socializing (via text) with co-workers, family, and friends along the way.
The puzzle game part of Day Repeat Day isn't exactly the star here, though. Its challenges are basic and lift the same mechanics and conventions from a hundred matching games you've seen before. Rather, your choices about who you talk to and how over the course of your work day ultimately create an intriguing social web that serves as the propulsive force driving you through to the end.
Grinding away the time
Day Repeat Day's narrative moves linearly, but spans the length of your entire career at Joki by time-hopping to key milestones in your life. The game starts with your first day on the job, and the jumps to times of promotion, meeting new people, and other social and professional crossroads, some of which definitely intersect, forcing you to choose what is important to you.
Some of these decisions aren't super straightforward, either. Without spoiling, there might be times where you feel the need to work overtime to make ends meet while at the same time familial duties get dropped at your doorstep. Do you risk financial ruin to follow up on your obligations in the short-term, or do you let things fall through to preseve your long-term security?
A life well wasted
Day Repeat Day seems to revel in sticking you in these jams, but it happens so often and with so little apparent consequence that it's hard to take more than the first couple seriously. This is a shared trait of almost every aspect of Day Repeat Day. There are mysterious video clips that play between work days that ultimately feel like random gestures at the narrative conclusion you're headed toward, the match-three changes its look every so often to suggest changes in Joki's business (though nothing else actually changes), and the dialog choices you're given in some conversations lack nuance to the point that I wanted to skip some altogether.
By the end of Day Repeat Day, I was more than ready for it to be over. Its novelty had grown stale, and I didn't feel rewarded for taking any of its weighty material seriously. It's hard to tell how linear this game is, so it's conceivable that other people might find a more fulfilling path than the one I found myself on, but I'm not particularly interested in slogging through more basic match-three puzzling to investigate.
The bottom line
Day Repeat Day starts with a bang, but then proceeds to devolve into the same tiring grind it's examining. Its narrative hooks definitely give it more edge and interest than other match-three games out there, but the lack of payoff on its story threads makes it a somewhat disappointing adventure.