Death, destruction, and donuts in the sandbox of Garbage Day

Garbage Day 1

Garbage Day, a first-person sandbox game now in Early Access, lets you live the same day over and over. Trapped in the small, bright, colorfully blocky town of Pin Tweaks, you have until sundown to do whatever you like, at which point the day resets and you find yourself back in bed, as in the film Groundhog Day. How would you spend eternity? For me it involved violence and a lot of donuts.

I figured I'd start with some exploring and observing before my inevitable slide into mayhem and destruction, but the game had other ideas. On my front lawn there are a number of weapons laid out: an axe, a katana, several firearms and a hand grenade. Making things even more tempting is a slow-motion toggle so you can blast the hapless townies in bullet-time. So, yeah, I began with extreme violence right off the bat.

After running around shooting everyone I could find (there are armed marshals who become hostile when you begin shooting, as well as plenty of innocent and helpless citizens), I found a circuit breaker on the side of someone's house. And so, I quickly experienced my first death, which I have to say was quite deserved.

Waking up in bed with a fresh start on the day, I got up and pledged to avoid violence, though the astoundingly chipper soundtrack threatened to drive me back right back to it.

The question is: What am I supposed to be doing in Garbage Day? If it's like Groundhog Day, there may be a series of tasks I need to accomplish before the sun sets that will free me from my temporal prison. The only thing I can immediately find that looks like a task is a small note on my fridge reading "Buy milk." Down the street, I find a store that stocks only milk—shelves and shelves of it—and while I do have cash I can't figure out how to pay for it. So, I just carry a carton of milk home and put it in the fridge. Mission accomplished!

Was that something I was supposed to do? The game seems mum on the topic, so I try cooking breakfast. As when I cook in real life, I wind up with a lot of mess and very little edible food.

Breakfast done, my thoughts slide inevitably back to wanton destruction. While I can't pick up the grenade on the lawn, I discover I can activate it and run away. RIP my house. No worries, tomorrow it'll be put back together again. Being trapped in a single day has its benefits.

No sense in stopping with the destruction of just my house. My neighbor has a car, so I hop in and take a nice sight-seeing trip around town by driving directly through most of the sights. Hey, destruction is fun and consequence free, plus everything I smash into either collapses beautifully or vanishes in bursts of tiny blocks.

The game unfortunately crashes before I can complete my day. When I restart, I decide to visit the local power plant, mainly to see if there's a button I can press that will destroy the whole town. Apparently, when faced with eternity, all I want to do is blow up everything. I don't find a town-leveling button, but I ride an elevator up and down a few times, poke my head into the few rooms I can find, and eventually decide to take the quick way back to the ground floor, even finding time for a potshot at a citizen as I descend.

I missed the guy but hit the ground dead-on.

How else to spend my time? I take a few days to completely ignore the weapons, and just snoop in my neighbor's sparsely decorated homes. I feed logs into a fireplace, find a woodchipper, and try to feed a log into that, though nothing happens. I open doors and drawers and cabinets, but don't find much. I actually make it to the end of a day and wake up back in bed, still clueless about how to break the infinite chain of repeating days. I find a bank, shoot the teller, break into the vault, and collect stacks of illicit cash, which I spend in the donut shop.

Even with an enormous, quivering mountain of donuts purchased with the fruits of murder and robbery, I don't feel like I'm living my endless day to its fullest potential. I run around the edges of the map, eventually finding a narrow passage to another huge area I didn't know was there. I reset my day (you can do this whenever you want), steal my neighbor's car, and spend a few days exploring this new area, which contains desert, beaches, rock formations, snow-capped mountains, and a few other features.

I drown in a lake. I drown in the ocean. I drive my car off a cliff. I visit a lighthouse. I find a dead deer. I shoot anything that looks like it can be shot, and a few things that don't. I'm still no closer to discovering why I'm trapped here and how I might escape. On the other hand, why escape? No matter how terrible my behavior I always wake up at home in bed, and I've got an infinite supply of donuts. Maybe this is paradise.

Garbage Day is in Early Access, and currently there's only a sandbox mode, with a story mode in the works. It's fun to play around in, though the game crashed several times for me, and it's clearly early in development—I'd hold off for now, unless you really want some donuts. The title, by the way, appears to be based on this clip from "Silent Night Deadly Night 2," in which a man weirdly yells "Garbage Day!" before shooting his neighbor.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.