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Next Day: Survival Review

by Thelget
Cresting the hilltop you un-sling your Kalashnikov rifle and crouch behind a fallen pine, surveying the open prairie ahead.  A battered two lane road divides the landscape, a flame scarred Katyusha rocket truck sits as a remnant of the country’s Soviet past. In the distance you spot a deadly cloud of green gas, the benefactor to this land, slowly rolling in your direction.  Cupping your hands to your mouth, a moment to blow warm air into your freezing hands before dawning your gas mask. Check the seal, all good.  Quick slap to the full 30 round magazine and a pull of the charging handle on your AK.. it’s the Next Day and the hunt for life’s essentials begins. 
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Next Day: Survival Review – Early Access
Next Day: Survival a multi-player survival rpg from SOFF Games and published by Last Level, is available now as part of Steam’s Early Access program.  Set in a fictional post-Soviet era Eastern European country that has been largely contaminated with a toxic green gas, players must survive in a brutal world.  The game offers individual skill development, basic crafting, different factions, quests and potential player vs player combat.  Although rare, you may even be lucky enough to find an old car and repair it to make traversing the map a bit easier.


Admittedly I am not a big fan of player vs player game modes due to often toxic communities, griefing and I simply don’t usually do very well (meaning I’m old and slow).  Thankfully, Next Day offers several different modes of play instead of forcing you into a pure PVP environment:
  • Main – Survival and RPG. Complete game world with NPCs, animals, vehicles and quests.  Player vs Player combat is possible and if you die you lose all your accumulated items except what you’ve manage to save in the storage facilities.
  • PVE – Identical to Main mode except players can not damage one another. Team up with other players to complete quests and take on rival factions.
  • Last Survivor – Takes place in an area contaminated by the green toxic fog.  You have limited time as the cloud gradually thickens which forces players into a tighter area (similar to H1Z1’s Battle Royale).  You can accumulate gear/items as you battle through the tournament and the winner gets to take all of his items to the next tournament.
  • Faction War – This mode has not yet been released and I unfortunately I can’t offer an estimate for when it will be available.

I very briefly tried the Main game mode but found it resonated everything I don’t like about PVP; fully geared seasoned players camping the spawn areas picking off new players with little chance of escape.  Experienced pvp’ers may enjoy this mode and find a way to excel regardless, but I chose to switch to PVE and it will be the basis of the rest of this review.

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You spawn into the game at a safe area wearing only your boxer briefs, wife-beater undershirt, a small backpack and a 80’s era quartz watch.  A map is in your backpack so you won’t have to worry about not knowing where anything is.  Immediately you’ll notice a quest giver, starting a series of quests that not only introduce you to the game but help provide some essential gear.  I would recommend not getting too caught up in the quests initially and take some time to scavenge for clothing first, if you’re wearing your boxers come nightfall you’ll learn about sickness and death the hard way.

Next Day is played in 3rd person view and the controls are generally the same as most other games in the genre so players should have no problem quickly grasping movement through the environment.  Additionally, typical survival elements exist so you’ll need to keep warm, hydrated and fed.  Food can be scavenged in nearby towns or by killing animals and cooking the meat over a campfire.  You may instinctively start picking berries and munching away as you run around but it won’t be long before you realize what a mistake you’ve made.  Wells are located in the faction areas and can be used for drinking or to fill any containers you may have, so keep an eye out for canteens or water bottles.  Medical supplies range from bandages, first aid kits, medical bags and various medicines to cure pain, sickness, anti-toxins and food poisoning, all which can be scavenged.

As mentioned, starter quests will help expose you to various important areas of the game and get you you’re first crafted weapon.  There is a “safe house” as well so you can safely store all the things you manage to scrounge up while scavenging.  This is really a nice addition and helps quite a bit with space management, and thankfully it auto-sorts your items when you drop them in the safe.  Quality weapons are a bit scarce in the beginning but once you get to the more difficult areas of the map you’ll start to enjoy some variety in firepower.  Vehicles are nearly impossible to locate and get operating.  I actually found an armored vehicle sitting on a main road but could never manage to get the parts needed to get it running.


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Graphics & Sound

Given the games price point don’t expect to be wow’ed by the graphics however the game looks just fine and supports the game’s genre well.  Frequent updates from the developers have already included graphic improvements and I only expect things to get better over time.  The graphical feel is similar to the Metro 2033 games but more smooth and fluid.  Day and night cycles, especially when the sun rises in the morning and the light pierces the trees is quite stunning.  Several buildings, mostly the factory and large hanger style structures are a bit bland and have a slight blockiness to them which hopefully will get re-textured eventually.

Environment sounds are typically standard although some have complained about persistent cricket chirping making them want to mute their volume.  I didn’t take offense to it and felt atmospheric sounds were quite well done.  Gunfire is descent and includes some nice ricochet sounds when you’re behind metal objects getting shot at by looters.  The only sounds I found myself disliking were related to movement; stepping on some surfaces and through wooded areas, but this was very minor and a personal gripe.

An area that stood out, and others I came across in game have commented on it as well, the attention to detail in regards to various action animations.  If you take a drink from a canteen, your character will actually pull it out, spin off the cap and drink.  Drive a vehicle in reverse?  You’ll actually turn to your right, put your arm behind the passenger seat and look out the back window.  It may not sound like much but you do quickly notice these small bits of attention from the developers and they add up – props to the devs.


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Performance & Value

Typically going into a game still in Early Access you might expect poor frame rates, stutters or crashes but Next Day: Survival may surprise  you.  During 14 hours of gameplay I had zero crashes and frame rates that averaged around 80fps, often hovering near 100 (all game settings on max).  This was my experience from day one of this game being available in early access, a game that is selling for $10!  Big thumbs up to the developers for bringing a game to the table ready to play.

No game is perfect and I did encounter a few minor bugs but nothing game breaking or overly annoying.  One notable bug being – when a player in a group dies he gets removed from the group, forcing you to have to re-add the player after he respawns.  Some NPCs have screwy hit-boxes or perform amazing shots like Suicide Squad’s Deadshot, armed with an AK fired from the hip.  Although I didn’t experienced it in my play-through, players have reported issues with completing or turning in quests.  Additionally I’ve heard players talk about exploiting a quest that allows players to horde gear rewards.  The devs are active and bug fixes are deployed quite regularly, so anything mentioned here may have already been fixed.

Hit or Miss

Bringing this Next Day: Survival Review to conclusion, I admit this game was a pleasant surprise.  Sure, you can argue the graphics engine appears “old and outdated” but I think it works well and is overshadowed by solid game play.  The PVE community is mature and supportive to new players, easily found groups at all hours of the day and night.  The Environment comes together nicely and will be embraced from fans of the Metro series games. Every player I encountered in the game seemed to be enjoying it and commonly said of game’s price, “For $10 this game is a steal!”

Agreed.  If you are a fan of survival games, especially with some RPG elements, at $10 this game is a no brainer.

[Game Play Video with Video Review Coming Soon!]

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