Publisher: The Fun Pimps
Developer: Telltale Publishing
7 Days to Die isn’t the person you bring home to meet the folks. It’s ugly, it’s crude, and feels like something you don't want to admit you partake in when people ask what you do with your free time. Underneath the rough exterior (and some bits of interior) however, is a deeply satisfying Minecraft-esque experience that siphons time from you in all the right ways. If you can get passed the dated graphics and sometimes clunky UI, you’ll find yourself muttering long after you should've gone to sleep, “maybe just one more day, then I'm done.”
How Does it Play?
You start out like many survival titles these days, in your underwear. You may also be surrounded by the game’s wonderful NPC inhabitants, Zombies. You will have needs that you must satisfy like hunger, thirst, and body temperature. In almost all biomes but the snow filled biome you will more than likely overheat constantly, so more often than not, you will stay in your underwear, and maybe boots.
The zombies serve as the games main antagonist; from crawlers, disease spreading nurses, zomdogs, to the terrifying lumberjacks, the game is flush with different types. Every 7 days a large horde will attack your location when a blood moon rises and they become frenzied. They will act appropriately 99 times out of 100, but that 1 time can get pretty interesting. Sometimes they will walk all the way around your base, avoiding your traps and defenses, to attack the one door you didn't put spikes in front of so you could leave. Other times they may dig under all your traps and surprise you. If your base is too large? They’ll spawn inside! These might be bugs, they might not, but oddly enough they seem to add to the tension on horde nights.
The crafting is where the Minecraft influence is most evident, almost everything you place in the world is in the form of a large cube, which after a some time in the game, seems to work well for it. The crafting system is surprisingly deep, allowing for some very interesting bases and weapons, not to mention, there's a mini bike! The act of crafting and killing, cooking and gathering resources, almost everything you do, nets you experience points that you can use to upgrade different aspects of your character.
The progression system really allows you to specialize how you play, whether that be the crafter, the damage dealer, the explorer, or anything in between. This is vital when playing solo, but really shines in the games cooperative mode, where you can truly specialize and work as a group.
The ability to play with friends is the game’s best feature, but it's execution can be a little problematic at times, as they typically spawn about 3 kilometers away from you. If either of you dies before you meet up, and you haven't laid a bed roll down (which acts like a respawn location for you), you’ll be doomed to another long walk. Aside from that the co-op is where the game really shines and the mechanics put in place take off.
Surprisingly strong gameplay from such a seeming simple concept.
How Does it Look?
The grey mist is the draw distance for the Xbox port.
Dated. Extremely dated. It isn't an art style, it's just clunky visuals. If the game came out in the late original Xbox or early Xbox 360 days it probably would've faired well. The fact that it's 2016 and we are playing on powerhouse consoles, I would've liked to see more effort put on the visual side.
It's nothing that can't be overcome, as long as you fall in love with the gameplay, but it's really the biggest thing keeping the game back. The environments make Fallout 3 look great by comparison, the animations are clunky, the zombies stutter, or fall up onto spikes when they're legs are cut out from under them. The animals you hunt and kill seem to jump like they're in a claymation Christmas special. Basically, you don't come here for the pretty picture.
Painful visuals that look like they belong with many 2006 titles.
How Does it Sound?
About as good as it looks. Honestly, some sounds fit in, like when dawn breaks and the morning music plays, and that sense of relief that you made it another night flows over you. Other sounds, like the zombies grunts and screams, overlap and become so loud you might be driven to shut the sound off some nights, when the horde rolls in and the screams prove more annoying than immersive. You’ll randomly hear whispers, you’ll be confused about the direction of zombies. It’s a hot mess.
The overlapping screams will have you hitting the mute button at times.
Can I control it?
Controls are pretty standard for a first person shooter/crafting menu. Aiming down a sight takes a different set of skills, as it can be somewhat unresponsive. Placing blocks can be a pain until you find the angles. The UI is set up for a mouse and keyboard and no effort was made to transition this to a controller, so often selecting things and moving specific items can be a little more laborious than it needs to be. None of this is game breaking, and once you get used to it, you will often not notice the snags and hitches in the system, but having to get used to a game's controls on that way often takes away from the experience early on.
Some lagging controls and general hiccups abound.
How does it FEEL?
Oddly enough, the game feels good. I would only really suggest playing with people as that seems to be the best way to enjoy it. It's such a clunky mess that when you break through the ugly and figure out just how deep the rabbit hole goes, you will often not want to quit. It’s quirky, it’s nerdy, and it honestly fun. Whether it's drawing the short straw to run after a supply drop, or rescuing your friend as he comes back from the destroyed city with a back pack full of loot and a full pack of zombie dogs on his heels, the game fills itself with little moments that you fall in love with. You’ll want to experiment more, and, if you're like me, you’ll fall headfirst into the crafting system so hard that you’ll find yourself excited about making a concrete wall.
The Feel: 1.8
Despite game-breaking flaws, 7 Days to Die feels great.
Just a hot mess...