Console: PlayStation 4
* Survival Style Gameplay That Continues To Expand With Every Update
* Unlimited Possibilities When Creating Shelters And Exploring Randomly Generated Worlds
* Very Challenging And Filled With Tension As You Struggle To Survive
* Some Players Have Experienced Game Breaking Bugs That Will Need To Be Patched
* Obviously A Budget Title Which Could Turn Some Players Off
Let me just start off by saying 7 Ways To Die is an excellent game. I feel the need to set the tone early since this title has been getting so many mixed reviews and comments. The problem with the gaming community these days can be summed up with one word… Entitlement. If a title doesn’t compete graphically with the newest Call of Duty it becomes very difficult to win the audience over. A game experiences a handful of bugs or the animation isn’t as fluid as other releases and it becomes shunned almost immediately.
I heard so many players complain about Star Wars: Battlefront and it’s lack of content saying that a sixty dollar game should contain so much more than it did. What the younger generation doesn’t understand is games like F-Zero or Star Fox for Super Nintendo for example nearly cost the same amount when they were released. These retro titles were a whole lot simpler to program and had much smaller teams that completed the development. To be perfectly honest we are lucky to have games like Battlefront for the standard of sixty dollars. Triple A titles take years to develop and have hundreds or more coders, artists, and programmers working full time to bring us the experiences that so many of us take for granted. This aspect of the gaming community deeply saddens me and I wonder how long the industry can sustain itself at this rate.
Unfortunately this is the same community that we rely on to give approval of these games and sometimes make the determination of whether or not a studio is successful. Luckily development tools are getting more and more common and we have started to see a surge of indie titles in the recent years. This can be a double edged sword however as the community is in fact starting to embrace these titles, but at random times they tend to hold these games to the same standard as multi million dollar projects. I don’t really see how this is fair, do you?
I can only hope that maybe I just hear about these complaints more because of the internet and things haven’t changed all that much. Regardless of the reasoning I think we should all start judging these products for what they are and view them as unique experiences instead of always being so quick to compare with other games. As much as we try to rationalize our opinions and arguments, a lot of the times these comparisons aren’t fair and serve to not only limit our own experience, but can even damage the reputation of the game and it’s developer.
You didn’t really come here to listen to my rants did you? Perhaps not, but I do feel this topic is the perfect segue into this review. The Fun Pimps sought out to create a unique game that combines zombies and action with the survival aspects of Minecraft. This is a very loose interpretation of the gameplay and it surely doesn’t do it justice. I for one have a great appreciation of what they set out to do and I personally feel that they filled a hole that needed to be addressed for quite some time. Sure this title isn’t as polished as others on the market, but another thing to remember is that this game is still in it’s Alpha state and is constantly getting updates and patches.
For those who have a hard time understanding this concept, this is exactly the model that Minecraft adopted and took the feedback from players to constantly improve the product. The Minecraft that we know and love today is drastically different than the model that was initially released. In fact it was pretty groundbreaking for a title to become released while it was still under development, and I’m happy to see The Fun Pimps go this same route. The “Survival” game type is one that begs for player feedback and I really think benefits the most out of all the genres I have seen. One other thing I want to mention before I get started specifically on 7 Days To Die is that Minecraft was a lot further along in it’s development before it was ported to consoles. This allowed for quite a bit more refinement before a larger audience was introduced.
Where does that leave us? In my opinion with an insanely fun project that will only grow and expand as time passes. From what i have already seen The Fun Pimps are actively listening to their audience and making updates and patches regularly to make the game that much better and stable for us gamers.
So what is the current product like? Allow me to break it down…
I really hate giving this category a “B”, but I do feel that there is room for improvement. Overall I think the game looks pretty pretty good, but the animation could use some work. I laugh every time I see a deer hopping across the forest or a zombie falling down after getting hit with a weapon, but the second example is in fact something currently being addressed according to a recent developer video.
Textures aren’t at all bad and at times the world can look pretty good. It may not be on par with Doom (2016) or even Techland’s Dead Island, but it is certainly a relief to escape from the blocky aesthetic of other Voxel games like Minecraft. It is worth nothing that the game does however still operate on a grid regardless of its appearance. The audio of this game does a pretty decent job and at times really adds to the atmosphere exceptionally well. In the game world you will encounter a handful of different environment types and whether it is the lush forest, bare desert, post apocalyptic city, or even the snow covered regions each zone brings it’s own set of challenges to overcome.
The overall atmosphere is probably where 7 Days to Die excels the most when it comes to presentation. I find it really executes the zombie apocalypse setting perfectly. There is no doubt from the get go on what type of game this is and the struggle to survive is apparent from the first few minutes on. When the sun starts to set for the first time you see how dark this world can actually get and you start to hear growls in the distance, the fear really becomes quite amplified.
To be fair to everyone there isn’t much else to say about this side of things. Like I mentioned before the animation is terrible at times, and the overall graphical presentation isn’t up to par with this generation but that isn’t where this game shines at all. Don’t make the mistake of judging this book by it’s cover as it has so much more to offer.
Single Player: A+
Finally this is where this game jumps ahead of so many others. I know I started off this article by directing dislike towards comparisons, but for the sake of time let’s just start off with the gameplay style of Minecraft. The core of this game is a lot like that in the fact that you are constantly destroying things to mine it’s resources. You then take what you have gathered and apply those materials to something new. I absolutely love this genre since giving Minecraft a shot a few years ago. I suppose it’s a mix of trying to survive and shaping the world to reflect your existence that really appeals to me. The longer I stay and try to survive the larger my imprint on the game world becomes and to me that is awesome.
That core mechanic is about all that this game shares with Minecraft however. For starters the zombies are always present which can prove to make things exceptionally difficult. The saving grace is that this title has a ton of gameplay options that can be configured at the start of every world. Whether you like the 28 Days Later style of zombies that run when they see you, or the classic George A. Romero style of slowing creeping towards you, there are options for that. You can also configure the length of days, difficulty level, and even what items you lose when you die. If I had to recommend a way to play, I would highly suggest only having walking zombies if you want to live very long. The difficulty of this game is no joke and regardless of what your zombie setting is, every seven days a blood moon will arrive and bring with it a relentless zombie horde that has a knack for sensing exactly where you are.
If that wasn’t enough you are always fighting the environment as you battle both intense heat and cold, and struggle to stay hydrated and fed while avoiding things like dysentery and zombie infections. It seems like there is always something to worry about and early on you might as well expect to die quite a lot. I actually started a world and then took what I learned and started from scratch with a new world to save myself some hassle in the future. You will stay busy as you try to chop wood, but have to stop and hydrate. Not to mention you better dress appropriately or you will be battling heat stroke as well. It does take a while to get in a decent spot, but along the way you will come out with experiences to tell your friends that you never thought you would be faced with in a video game.
My first introduction of 7 Days went something like this. I opened my eyes and started to explore the landscape. I fended off a few zombies and followed the initial tutorial objectives. Things were going fairly well until darkness settled in and I couldn’t hardly see my hands in front of my face. I remembered that I had a torch in my inventory and it does make a huge difference, but it’s still insanely dark and traversing in the daylight is much much easier. I basically wandered around until daylight since I wasn’t able to see much anyway. It was then I came across a very still looking bear that seemed to be covered in blood. I thought at first he was dead since he wasn’t moving but I quickly realized otherwise when he mauled me to death. After spawning back in I realized that I lost a few crucial items, but I can now see a backpack on my map where I perished the first time around. Weighing out my options for a few moments I decide it was in my best interest to try and recover my bag and obtain my lost items. This was obviously a bad choice and resulted in death number two by bear mauling.
I decide it wasn’t worth the pain and move on without my lost items. It was then that I quickly discovered the pains of living in the desert. I was trying to build a small shelter to help fend off the constant barrage of zombies that kept heading my way when I became overheated and dehydrated. I had to find water fast but the only thing available to me was toilet water which resulted in a case of diarrhea since I didn’t have a pot to boil it in first. So now I’m in the desert suffering from a heat stroke and crapping all over myself. It didn’t take too long before all this resulted in me huddled under a makeshift roof in my half built shelter as I died from the heat and dehydration.
All of this can be a pain, but it’s highly addicting. You have a rough day like this and then you walk away thinking about what you could have done differently. The next day I started my game over and started making my new settlement. Things have gone a whole lot better and I am discovering new aspects of this game every time I play. Just like in Minecraft I find new items all the time and say “What can I use this for?” This game has some serious depth and if you enjoy the survival game type, you absolutely have to give this one a try.
The Blood Moon mechanic is nuts and not only adds a sense of impending doom, but really alters the way you go about building your shelters. It’s of course up to you on how you want to tackle each occurrence, but for my first go-round I took the approach of “hole up and hide” until things were over. I started building a minimal wooden shack which housed my bedroll and storage chest. then slowly started adding wooden spikes around the outside. Once I stock piled a bit of food, I started digging my underground tunnel that was protected by an iron reinforced hatch. Once I was underground I made a series of reinforced doors and had a backup supply of rations and water. It was time for my first Blood Moon and I had no idea what to expect. After the sunset I quickly retreated into my tunnel and crouched down to watch my hidden status.
Apparently I didn’t go deep enough because this status switched to hunted almost immediately and the sounds of growls and dogs barking filled the air. (Yes, there are zombie dogs) This seemed to last forever and I must say was quite intimidating. I kept waiting for my defenses to give, but so far so good as I waited through the storm and ate my meat stew. I did get an alarming moment when I thought the rock above me start crumbling down from above, but I guess this was just a glitch and didn’t amount to much else. The scariest moment of all came immediately after as I got worried and started to dig my tunnel deeper. I somehow clipped through the rock and ended up on ground level with an army of zombies scratching the rock trying to dig their way down. I freaked out and did circles around my cabin until I actually made it back in to wait out the remainder of this nightmare. Finally things started to calm down and I was able to ascend from my shelter and repair the damages down to my cabin. It looks like my defenses held this time, but now the cycle starts over as I need to replenish my supplies.
This is the cycle of 7 Days to Die and I love it. There is so much to do and see that after days or weeks you haven’t even started to scratch the surface. This is the kind of freedom I love to have in a game and with constant patches and updates, it looks like I will have a world to play in for quite some time.
Just like others games of this genre you can play solo or online with others. You can join or host online matches with strangers, or launch private games for just you and your friends. On the consoles there is even split screen co-op. I have to be upfront and say that I didn’t try this mode myself, but I have heard about a lot of game breaking bugs with this mode. I do hope that these errors get patched soon as this mode would add a lot of value for some people.
I did try the online co-op out and I thought this was pretty fun. My friend and I had some trouble coordinating our positions at first as we spawned in completely different areas and took a bit of teamwork to even meet up, but I suppose that is to be expected.
All of the online modes function exactly the same as the single player modes and should allow even more great stories out of the sessions with your friends.
Replay Value: A+
This is one of those games that will just stay installed on my PS4 and I will most likely play indefinitely. I enjoy a wide variety of games, but the ones that offer this much freedom are always my favorite. Your shelter can always get better, you will always find new ways to work together with your friends and at least in the short term there are a slew of new items and gameplay mechanics on the way. If things do get a bit stale for a while, you can always just launch the creative mode and go to town. (Yep, there is one of those too)
To sum up my experience with 7 Days to Die, I am blown away by this game and it continues to surprise every time I pick up my controller to play. I realize that perhaps my taste in games is a bit different than others since I have been playing since the 80’s and have grown tired of most genres. But it does take a lot to impress me these days and believe me when I say that this game has got it where it counts.
So should you buy it? The price point is set at $30 which is a steal, but here is what I recommend. Watch a few YouTube videos and get a feel for the gameplay. This way you can get a quick look at the graphics and animations and see if it’s something you can look past. If you think it’s not that big of a deal and it looks like fun, you might as well dive in because trust me… it is.
For an in depth look at the gameplay check out our buddy Juiceman3941 and his gaming round table. He features a lot of the game mechanics and provides another excellent introduction to the game. Below is a link to part one of his feature.