My first experience of 7 Days to Die had me desperately searching for supplies, whilst my character suffered from stage 2 heatstroke. It seemed the major threat of the apocalypse wasn’t the ravenous hordes of zombies, but rather my character’s inability to walk 100ft without developing a breathing problem.
Developed by The Fun Pimps and released under Telltale Publishing, 7 Days to Die is a survival-horror title with a heavy emphasis on crafting. At times it’s more Minecraft than Day Z and the crafting opportunities can be grand, if you have the patience to survive and collect enough resources.
When you start the game you have the option to choose your character, as well as decide how difficult you want the zombies to be. Do you want them to always run, or only at night? These choices might not seem too important at first, but come the seventh night, when the zombies ramp up their intensity, it can change the difficulty of the game by a large margin.
The seven day cycle is a novel concept. The six days it gives players to prepare for the horde is both pressuring and rewarding. Gathering enough materials to survive, including food and weapons feels satisfying and knowing you can take on whatever the game throws at you is especially uplifting. Surviving isn’t easy though. You have to watch your character’s stats carefully and eat and drink enough to keep on top of them. You can catch diseases and infections, all of which complement the survival experience. Unfortunately a broken weather system makes the game infuriating at times and the heatstroke mentioned in the beginning of the review is a constant annoyance. Temperatures over 90 start the first stage of heatstroke which quickly rises, dehydrating you and eventually sapping your stamina.
The early hours of the game will have you crafting basic tools such as stone axes, wooden clubs and bows. Pretty much anything in the game can be hit to give you materials, but your core materials are often wood, stones and iron. The crafting options are expansive and display the best side of 7 Days to Die. Indeed, upgrading your house, whether it be a small shack or a log cabin complete with balconies and spotlights, is always satisfying. Many surfaces can be upgraded by simply being hit with the stone axe. Providing you have the right materials, it’s a quick and easy way to fortify your home against the undead.
Unfortunately whilst the crafting options are diverse, collecting the materials needed to survive can be a disheartening experience. Basic resources are easy enough to come across but things such as grills to cook food on can’t be crafted and instead have to be randomly found. Many items also require a lot of materials making the early hours of the game dependent on basic weapons and tools.
Speaking of weapons when it comes to combat 7 Days to Die is disappointing. Attacking enemies feels sluggish and clunky and there’s almost no weight behind any attacks. Ranged weapons fare slightly better, although aiming can be difficult, especially with pistols and bows. The damage you give zombies can feel inconsequential and enemies often take what feels like too many hits to go down.
You’ll explore the environment a lot in 7 Days to Die and the randomly generated map is large enough to warrant an interest from the player. Unfortunately repeated environments make for dull exploration and you’ll get tired of the same decrepit structures that seems to dominate surroundings. It’s a shame too, as the core gameplay loop is incredibly addictive. Regrettably though the bland landscapes don’t compliment the game’s premise and instead dull it down.
Even worse though are the graphics. The game looks like something from a much older generation. Muddy textures and basic animations are plentiful and a severe lack of polish is prevalent. Glitches are incredibly common and when zombies weren’t magically floating, they were falling through the floor. Other things such as the sound disappearing and long load times were very common.
The console format clearly doesn’t help the game. Menus are obtuse and difficult to navigate with the cursor clearly being from the PC counterpart. Placing objects is usually easy although the grid based system would be easier to use with a mouse. The console version as it happens feels rushed and the issues are far too obvious to ignore.
For all the game’s misgivings there’s still some fun to be had. The survival concept is interesting and if you’re intent on crafting larger and fairly complex structures, 7 Days to Die has much to offer. In fact with enough updates and patches 7 Days to Die could be a good game. Unfortunately there are too many issues currently affecting the enjoyment of the game. If these issues are ironed out then there’s definitely a decent survival-horror title to be had underneath the bugs and glitches. For now though 7 Days to Die is a game that you might be better off waiting for.
7 Days to Die (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
A frustrating and flawed experience that could have been great. It will be interesting to see how the game is updated and whether the developer's can capitalise on the potential that 7 Days To Die offers, but unfortunately doesn't deliver on.