The only thing creepier than a nightmare is a daymare.
I have no idea why my friend decided to introduce me to Mateusz Skutnik’s creepy, pen ‘n ink doodly, point and click Daymare Town series, but the next time I see him, I’ll be buying him a round on me. I’m not an avid gamer, having limited eye-hand co-ordination and a short supply of patience, and wasn’t really expecting to become hooked on to any games after my last addiction – Francisco Gonzalez’s Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator adventure games was satiated a couple months ago when the final installment was released, completing the series.
And then, I was persuaded to play Daymare Cat, a Daymare Town platformer spin-off, in which your goal is to help a befuddled heroine escape the twisting streets of Daymare Town by finding five vinyl discs and playing them on five record players. The music by Cat Jahnke is a pleasure to listen. It’s short enough for people like me to enjoy it without losing interest, yet charming enough to pique your interest in the Alice in Wonderland type experience as seen through the eyes of Mateusz Skutnik. So, I decided to play all the other installments in the series – as of now, there are four.
The objective of Daymare Town is straightforward: you’ve crash-landed your hot air balloon and need to find a way out of an entire town – though, by the third installment, it’s really more of a city. Although the premise is simple, the game is infused with the logic of its titular daymare.
You find yourself in the town square upon first entering Daymare Town. You can hear the wind blowing eerily – perhaps it’s a deserted ghost town? It definitely has a post-apocalyptic vibe. It looks and sounds uninhabited, but it is not. The landscape is lonely, long and confusing with hidden rooms, unexpected corners and twisted tunnels, it’s easy to get lost of where you’ve been and where you’re going. The silence is unnerving – it’s only broken by sudden scare chords that will make you swear aloud. Occasionally you’ll encounter a creature with large eyes who is covered in either long hair or soot peeking at the gamer. As you move through the installments, you’ll come across more unusual characters – from sea monsters to giants and fishermen to the tunnel creatures whose cryptic remarks will subtly scare the shit out of you.
You’ll have to complete puzzles to make your way out of the town, but finding everything you need and figuring out exactly what you need to use from the ridiculous amount of stuff that you don’t need makes it even more difficult. Skutnik’s purpose is to challenge your unconventional thinking skills (You have a fish, but what do you do with it? Give to someone as a pet? Put it in the sandwich that you’re already making as part of a puzzle?) which makes getting past the guard or opening a gate or finding the monter’s migdula enormously satisfying.
One of the best things about Daymare Town is the breathtaking although unnerving artwork; all black and white sketchings of other-worldly landscapes and strange architecture – it’s like an insomniac’s representation of reality.Each locale of the game has its own signature sounds which works perfectly well to compliment the backdrop of the game.
And despite it’s eeriness, it’s also witty – a catheter bag becomes ‘some liquid’ and or when the Nurse says “Do not try anything stupid. I will put you down” and at moments, surprisingly human, such as the moment when you return an old widow’s baby to her. All this along with the pronounced mystery of the town (why are there references to Charon?) keeps you intrigued and addicted, no matter how many times you replay the game.
I hope you’ll like them, too. Here’s the full series; they get longer, and better, as they progress: Play Daymare Town (it’s free) and see for yourself.