The previous couple of years have been witnesses to a spike in popularity of zombies, especially in gaming. The survival genre has always been quite packed but as of lately, it is full to the brim with new titles and sequels, all aiming to be the best one out there. Unfortunately, there are also those titles which, although accompanied with the best hopes of the developers, never make it through, but instead almost become examples of what you must not do to break into the scene. 7 Days to Die, developed by The Fun Pimps, features quite the number of these don’ts.
7 Days to die is a dystopian first person survival game, where the player has nothing, and we actually mean nothing. You start the game stranded in some part of a fictitious Arizona, a desolate landscape full of abandoned cars and leafless trees. The basic premise of the game, as the several which you might have heard about, seen or even played before, is survival using whatever means possible. In 7 Days to Die, this mainly involves gathering resources and crafting a shelter or strengthening an existing one before the zombies invade. This zombie invasion occurs every seven days, the time before which must be carefully spent preparing for the oncoming doomsday. It is a very neat idea in theory, one which does not find the correct ways to be manifested in reality. This failure to accomplish what the developers are promising is mainly the fault of incredibly clunky mechanics and irritating UI, which together are more deadly than the zombies themselves.
The basic mechanics of the game revolve around you punching stuff. Punch plants, get their fruit. Punch tree barks, get wood. Punch rocks, get rocks. And so on, so forth, until you’ve probably thrown more punches than Mike Tyson in the prime of his career. You will definitely get much less reward than him though since these materials ultimately run out, and off you go again on your punching adventure. In fairness, you can construct weapons which make the job easier, but it still is the same grind in the end. Luckily, quite a number of items can be constructed, so you will rarely find yourself at a loss for what to make, but the real question is the usefulness of these items.
What kills the game, in a hugely negative way, is the atrocious controls. First of all, you are using a PC cursor with a gamepad, and that is never, ever permitted. Combine the use of a cursor with a sense of urgency like that which overcomes you when zombies are chasing you, and you’re almost done. Scrolling through the menus is irritating as well, since you will almost certainly browse through each window twice before you find what you need. You will probably learn your way around the menus after a good hour or two so the hassle is halved, but it still kills the fun of the very first few steps in the game. User interface is a nightmare as well, with text so small you have to get under your TV to read. The objectives set out by the game are also written in this font, so be warned, you will have to get closer to your screen.
As what regards graphics, the game does not make huge attempts to wow players aesthetically, and the visual style chosen by Fun Pimps kind of complements the whole experience, so that is a plus. As for sound, the game does feature good sound effects and noise, even though the sound of a human punching a tree would much rather be an “oww” instead of a “clunk.”
7 Days to Die has earned its fair share of reviews and critics from its success on PC, where it launched back in 2013 on early access. This is shown on the port on consoles, since the build which is represented by PS4 and Xbox is definitely not a finished one. The game is by all means playable, and not as terrible as you might see in some other reviews, but it needs to be given a chance, a chance which in the world of casual gamers, not a lot seem to be willing to give. You will have to close an eye and a half to get through the obvious faults and errors which are very common indeed, but behind all of that is an enjoyable experience, and even more so in coop. There is quite some room for improvement, and with time the developers might decide to invest in healthy upgrades to do this game some justice. In the meantime, we will continue to hope and pray that this game becomes something better, real soon.