So much right. So very much right.
Ok, first, I hate scary games. To death. I hate being scared, I hate when scary games leave a lasting impression. I hate going around my own home checking corners and scared to open doors because of a game I played. I am squeamish.
This didn't do that. No, it's kinda scary, but it's more impactful than scary. It's about the character and the world around him than cheap thrills and disturbing imagery and actions. This is what scary should be about. Self-reflection. Am I this man? Is this the world I'm in? It strikes a chord in me instead of just tugging at strings.
Ok, so, analysis. Here's what you did right.
Sprites - They're familiar and friendly. Sprites have never hurt you right? They represent childhood at this juncture. You took something friendly and made it sinister, without actually attacking our memories and ruining our nostalgia. Very nice!
Random events - You had a lot of spice in the random events. This is good, and it's very hard to tell if some are scripted, which makes it better. Also, when images flash at you, you have a different sampling for everything AND they're not sprites. Sitting in a sprite world and accepting it as real and then having something very real flash at you is a great way to make it seem more real than it is.
Days - The fact that it gets dark sooner and sooner as days go by is great. It lets the player know that you can't play forever. The game WILL end, even if it's by making it harder and harder bit by bit. It adds that feeling of inevitability, but still with a glimmer of hope. And the lantern. Security, power, and you are the only reason why you won't have it later. Allowing players to misuse it was great.
The shadowy man - Ok, first, I got the bad ending. Arg. I don't know everything you did with this guy, but I talked with him twice. Amazingly done. He single-handedly destroys all arguments and utterly reinforces suspension of disbelief (aside from the constricting days). I wondered why people didn't just turn on their lights as per usual and just ignore the darkness? Well, the days answer that. But it's dumb that the darkness can do that right? Enter the shadowy man. It's beyond comprehension. Every question a player could have that would break the belief of the game is shattered RIGHT THERE. And it's so elegant! It cannot be argues with, it fits the theme of the game, and it doesn't break suspension of disbelief.
Supplies - Supplies are difficult to obtain, but not unfairly so. Great balance here. I praised the high heavens every time I ran into a bunny in the daytime. The system is perfect. You can't sit by and do nothing, and sometimes, you just have to risk it.
Sam - He's not generic sprite man. He changes clothes, which provides some realism, and he's old and has been affected by this event already. Instantly the player has a level of sympathy. A hook by which to relate, and through that, understand the difficulty in the game fairly.
Sound - Everything's timed great. The sounds fit perfectly and everything plays out perfectly.
And now for the negative marks:
Days - Since the game gets harder each day, it's easy to think that you just have to live for so long. Typical game mentality. Get through increasingly difficult scenarios until you win.
Time - Interacting with stuff eats up time like mad. Menu lag makes sense, interacting with something and still being in the 'interact menu' is annoying. Especially if it says you can't interact with it anymore.
I experienced one glitch. Night fell, I moved from the area with the pond to my house, but right before doing so, turned on my lantern. Scene transitioned without the menu disappearing. Suddenly, could only move when the item menu was up. Couldn't interact with anything.
Running out of characters...
I liked the auto-save, I liked waking up at will. I liked the logic, mood, theme.... You only explained what was necessary.
Aside from that, while I got the worst ending, I got all the way to day 23. Yup, maybe lost the plot, but I think I beat the game. Feels like it at least....