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Shellie - ShelliePancake

20 April 2023

A Perfect Day

A Perfect Day is a story-rich, time-loop narrative-driven game that allows you to say goodbye to past regrets, fulfil your dreams and bring in the new century under the glow of New Year’s fireworks. Winner of the Indie Live Expo Local Cultural Representation Award, Developer and Publisher Perfect Day Studio have perfectly encapsulated the feeling of being a 12 year old back at school in 1999. The opening scene pulls you into the mood, with your first image being notes strewn on the ground with powerful words such as “hate”, “love” and “you”. At the same time, children giggle in the background Moonlight Sonata somberly begins to play, and the game opens with your teacher berating all the students, giving you a sense of underlying dread. This only grows as one of the main characters - and your apparent crush interest - enters and leaves the classroom sobbing.

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You play the game as Chen Liang, the main protagonist, who appears to have a crush on Ke Yun, one of the brighter students in the class. You have a gift to give her, so you follow her to her home after school is allowed out early for the holidays (A whopping four days off over the New Year!) It becomes apparent early on in the game that there is an underlying theme of classism. From the moment the player learns about Chen’s parents being laborers and Ke Yun’s being bankers to having the ability to change the writing in the card Chen has made for her from aspiring to go to school or learning a trade. Your only goal is to have A Perfect Day, culminating in gathering the courage to hand Ke Yun the card you have made for her. In doing so, you must navigate going home to eat dinner with your parents, gathering clues through various friends about where she could be, and completing small tasks for people you meet along the way. You can meet a cast of ten main characters, and learning who the characters are is initially tricky as the game throws a lot of different names at you in fast succession. Then you may not meet them again for some time. This took some reading and re-reading to get used to who I was talking to or thinking of.

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The game walks you through how you travel the world by clicking on the feet symbol at the bottom of the screen and then selecting a location on a map. This simple mechanism took some getting used to, and I’m unsure if something were left out of translation as the instructions said to click on the feet symbol and then click the location I would like to go. But it didn’t explain that there are circles in between you and your goal you must click as you navigate your pathing. The circles, which indicate a location, with an exclamation mark, are events you can trigger, which may help or hinder your quest to find the girl of your dreams. Scattered amongst exploring the town, you must pop home and have lunch with your parents. Some may find these moments in the game tedious, but I enjoyed it as it felt like I was sitting with my parents and talking to them. You can choose to have a bite of noodles or scoff your food down in one go and rush onwards. You can sit in silence or try to press on some thoughts and issues that arise. One particular moment I enjoyed was eating dumplings. Your Mother tells you to try dipping one into a small bowl of vinegar. The mechanic was that you had to select your dumpling, drag it to the bowl among the food on the table and drop it in with a satisfying “plop” noise and then you could eat it, accompanied by a delightful “Nom” “Nom” scene.

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the brush strokes, character design, and colour choices. The game is hued in mostly reds, yellow and blue, but the simple style is pretty and works. The camera may menacingly zoom in on someone’s mouth when they are angered, yelling, or feet running as you hear someone behind you. The sound is minimal but effective. When there is writing, you can hear the scribbling pen on paper. When you are eating, the clinking of the plates and the blurred stop-motion movement between scenes all complement the style well and set the tone for the game from the moment you load it up. The musical is classically inspired and can start up during emotional moments, but then during main gameplay can be strangely silent during periods, which I realised after about 10 minutes of gaming silence and found mildly off-putting when I realised.

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The controls are simple. Click the mouse, and make the story progress. You can also repeatedly hit the spacebar if you’re a fast reader. Clicking the mouse is how you maneuver around the map and select how you interact with the environment. You can also open and close your backpack to select items that can assist you in your progress or open up new options and discover new things. The main mechanic the story is centered around is the time-loop narrative. Chen Liang finds a magazine in his backpack about aliens and calls himself A-Lien. He aspires to have the Perfect Day now that he is on holiday. You do so by reading the magazine and utilizing Alien cards to travel along time, to and through locations and moments. There is a “Nervous” meter and a “Rebellious” meter - which I didn’t get a chance to get into with the demo - but if you become too nervous, you are unable to perform certain actions, and to reduce your nervousness, you can suck on a lollipop and snack on some noodles. I found that you have to do so before getting into a potential situation that may make your anxiety shoot through the roof, so this took some “reading the room” to manage. Thankfully, at the end of the day, you get to put all your new-found cards and candy in your drawer, go to bed, and do it all over again tomorrow! (Or the same day since this is a time-loop).

A Perfect Day is a beautiful narrative about navigating childhood crushes, overbearing parents, insane educational expectations, and friendship. A story about courage, secrets, and what you would do if you could have a do-over to create the perfect day?

7.5
10

The Bad

- The story is mostly well-driven, leaving hints that make you want to uncover more
- The art style is vibrant and beautifully suits
- Easy to jump in and start playing with an easy learning curve

- Carpal Tunnel inducing by constant mouse clicking
- The story can, at times, be slow to move along, such as dinner times
- Some parts have no background music and can be off-putting

The Good

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