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About the Story
It's been a long journey through the night. The last one, you hope. Today is the last chance you have to catch the day train - a train that will take you to a world of eternal daylight, where you will never have to run from the night-time spirits ever again. Unfortunately, you overslept. You have an hour and a half to make it onto the train. Better get going! Waiting for the Day Train was created for ParserComp 2021.
10th place - ParserComp 2021
|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 4
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Aesthetics predominate in Waiting for the Day Train, a game of two parts: this Adventuron amuse-bouche presents a non-interactive pixel-art opening, and then segues over to photographs to accompany the puzzle-solving gameplay. Living up to my expectations for Adventuron, both parts are absolutely gorgeous, and while I’m not sure they ultimately cohere into a united whole, they’re individually well worth experiencing.
It feels a bit odd to lead off a review of a parser game emphasizing what you look at rather than what you read, but I suspect even the most prose-focused of players will have the same response I did. The prologue section is well-written, with an intriguing opening line (“The night is a different world”) leading into some efficiently-conveyed backstory about the main character’s efforts to escape a world of tormenting spirits about to be thrust into everlasting night. But it’s the pictures that accompany the writing that really make an impression: they’re moody, all black and beige and gray, with fat pixels of raindrops streaking the screen; your character, a robed, faceless figure a la Bobbin Threadbare, seems authentically beleaguered just from their posture and way of holding themself.
Once day breaks and you head to the station to catch your train, the visuals completely transform, with the night-time pixel art replaced by photographs. You’ve fallen asleep in the forest near the station, and the environment here is absurdly lush, with the green landscape half-concealing sturdy old wooden bridges and lovely, weathered stonework. These photos create a day-world that’s absurdly pleasant and welcoming, bucolic and nostalgic all at once.
Getting to the train before the time limit is a matter of solving three or four simple puzzles, none of which are very challenging on their own but do put you up against a time limit. While this did mean I had to restart my first playthrough due to overmuch faffing about, the short playtime made the replay painless, and without the deadline the puzzles might feel a bit thin. They’re standard sorts of thing – districting a flock of birds, feeding a hungry animal – enlivened by a bit of unexplained magic, but primarily serve to give you something to do as you explore the lovely setting. The implementation is largely solid, too, with the only niggle I ran into some confusion about how to retrieve a gem from the stream after I’d spied it trapped by some stepping-stones: (Spoiler - click to show)since it was described as being right near the stones, I’d thought a simple TAKE GEM should work, on one bank or the other – CLIMB ON STONES is what eventually worked to put me in the middle of the crossing, where I could pick the jewel up, but that seemed a bit unintuitive to me.
My only real critique is that it was hard for me to tonally reconcile the peaceful, welcoming daylit world with the foreboding and terrible nighttime (oh, and that reminds me, there’s a typo with “forboding” subbed in for “foreboding” – only error I noticed). The contrast certainly made me want to make sure I stayed in the daytime and didn’t get trapped in the world of eternal night. But while I intellectually understood my character as desperate, rain-soaked and rushing to reach their last chance for escape, the lovely photos made the daytime section so peaceful, homey, and pleasant that the urgency drained away, and I enjoyed it more as a hang-out game, with the challenges feeling less like barriers and more like a prompt to slow down and spend time in a beautiful place. Still, I can’t find much to complain about getting two different aesthetically engaging experiences in one short game, and I found Waiting for the Day Train very much worth a play.
This game opens with a spooky pixel art world and story, then transitions to a generally pleasant, somewhat magical real life world with photographs.
It has 3-5 puzzles. All are simple, and most are well-clued. One involving a fish felt a little arbitrary to me, but overall it was nice.
The game felt smooth and polished. The writing gives hints of interesting worldbuilding. Overall, like others have noted, the game feels a bit disconnected between its two sides, but both sides are individually well put-together.
This game is short; you'll probably finish in 20 minutes or less. The game has a turn tracker (you have to get to the train before noon), but, in practice, the tracker is just an annoyance: you're probably going to run out of time on your first playthrough, and then you'll restart the game and play through more efficiently.
The music is fun, and the puzzles are fair, but kinda fiddly.
(Spoiler - click to show)The game wasn't clear enough about where I needed to stand to get the fishing pole and the gem at the bridge. It would say "you can't reach it from here," but why not? Do I need to wade deeper into the water? Is the pole on the east side of the bridge? The west side? Do I need to be standing on the bridge, or on the stepping stones?
Instead, you kinda need to guess that there are four locations in this area (west of the bridge, east of the bridge, standing on the bridge, and standing on the stones) and try to get the items at each of those locations by trial and error.
When dispersing the magpies, I had to "throw" the gem at the magpies, but I couldn't just "give" the gem to the magpies, or "drop" the gem and leave, and it's not clear why.
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