Over the past few weeks, the development studio behind “one of the most anticipated games in the world,” The Day Before, has been under intense scrutiny to prove that it is, in fact, making a real game.
What’s happening with FNTASTIC and The Day Before is sending up huge red flags, much like what happened recently with Abandoned. A great-looking trailer comes out and everyone gets hyped up about it, only to later discover that it’s just a prerendered nothing burger, and then the gaming community goes into a wild conspiracy goose chase to see if the game or even the company itself is real.
FNTASTIC has been in hot water recently. A few months ago, it was under scrutiny for its use of “volunteers,” to which the company ran a big PR campaign to make a case for what its version of volunteering means. If you haven’t checked out its website yet, you probably should, as it includes a whole Medium post to describe the difference between an “internal volunteer,” which is their version of employee, and “supporter,” which is their version of an unpaid volunteer.
The Day Before was originally scheduled for a release in June 2022 before the developer suddenly delayed the game and switched it from Unreal Engine 4 to Unreal Engine 5. The new release date was set for March 1, 2023, but then at the end of January of this year, suddenly a trademark dispute popped up. Now the game is due on November 10, 2023.
The publisher behind FNTASTIC and The Day Before, Mytona, was founded in Russia and is also full of red flags. It’s never come close to publishing a game at this scale, and a cursory look at its website shows its only two real claims to fame are relatively popular mobile games, Cooking Diary Restaurant Game and Seekers Notes: Hidden Objects.
FNTASTIC rebuffed claims about the game being a scam by saying, “We didn’t take a penny from people: no crowdfunding, no pre-orders, no donations. The game is fully funded by Mytona, one of the largest mobile publishers in the world, who checked the game’s build at every milestone per our contract.”
Mytona’s annual revenue, according to Statista, was $42M in 2022. A quick look at the biggest mobile gaming publishers in the world shows that Mytona isn’t even close to the top 10.
This week, we finally got a look at the game in its current state of development, and it’s not impressive in the slightest. The 10-minute demo is mostly walking through a generic open apocalyptic city environment, with a few zombies running about… and that’s it. People were initially excited as the game clearly takes heavy inspiration from The Last of Us, with a dash of The Division mixed in, but in its latest trailer, the game just looks like every other early-access open-world zombie-killing game with loot.
Go back two years ago to its announcement trailer and the game presented in a much more advanced state than what we’re seeing now, which reeks of a scripted tech demo that got a ton of hype (Anthem, anyone?), and then the developers at FNTASTIC had to actually figure out how to make a real game around it. A second gameplay trailer was released a year ago, and that still looked more advanced than what was delivered this week.
I’ve been covering games long enough now to know that this project is the latest to be over-hyped to extraordinary levels, with the developer using that excitement to mislead people. FNTASTIC itself is claiming the team is creating “one of the most anticipated games in the world,” as The Day Before had previously topped the charts of Steam’s most wishlisted games following the reveal of the game on IGN back in 2021.
Is The Day Before a real game? Sure, in some capacity. Is it the project that IGN helped to exclusively reveal way back in 2021? No, I don’t think so, and I think anyone that’s finding themselves buying in to this project should keep their expectations in check as FNTASTIC is toying with that unearned hype just based on how it’s operating its social media channels.
This is another game that has reveled in not having much media scrutiny around it. But it seems that time has now passed for FNTASTIC, and in a panic to assure people it’s making a real game of some sort, it put out that 10-minute trailer to quiet everyone down… but it seems to have had the opposite effect it intended, and the goodwill the game once had is now fading away into pure skepticism.