It takes some serious ingenuity to subvert a genre as entrenched as the mobile match-3 game, but somehow developer Kimmo Factor, probably most well-known for the awesome hack ‘n slash game Barbearian, has done exactly that with their new game Day Repeat Day ($3.99). It’s a commentary on the match-3 genre itself, and in some ways the state of gaming as a whole, and it’s also a surprisingly deep commentary on life, relationships, and your own well-being. I think it’s precisely because such heavy topics are tackled by way of something as banal as a match-3 game that makes me love Day Repeat Day so much.
The game starts with you being hired at a new job, and wouldn’t you know it this new job’s software system is set up like a match-3 game. That gamification is so hot right now! You’ll manage shipments and orders by meeting specific quotas of items matched in a limited number of moves. There are some additional gameplay mechanics that get peppered in as you go, but by and large the matching game here is likely nothing you haven’t seen before. That’s not to say it’s bad though, and in fact there is an extremely entertaining and often quite challenging matching game at the core of Day Repeat Day.
But a simple matching game, even an entertaining one, isn’t enough to turn any heads. The real meat of Day Repeat Day takes place in the chat service that’s part of your work’s operating system. Here you’ll chat with friends, family, significant others, and… your boss while details are revealed and stories are weaved about your own life and the ones around you. There’s branching dialogues and multiple responses to choose from which, over the course of your entire working life, can make for some very interesting and very unexpected outcomes. Things continue to expand from there, with some extremely weird and striking cutscenes interspersed throughout. It’s tricky to explain but this game was constantly surprising me with something new and unexpected.
Essentially Day Repeat Day is an interactive fiction match-3 game, which is a mash-up I never would have dreamt of previously. But it works, in part because of the excellent writing, well-developed characters, and somber (but fitting) soundtrack. There’s some nits to pick, like the inability to turn off the “you should move this piece next wiggle" hints that are in pretty much every matching game ever made, or the fact that it really feels like this should have been a portrait-oriented game instead of landscape. Or how about an address book to keep track of all your contacts? Overall though these are minor things compared to how gripping and poignant Day Repeat Day frequently is, which is not something I ever thought I’d say about a match-3 game.