Despite, or perhaps because of, their brain-devouring ways, zombies are incredibly popular right now. Everybody wants their little piece of the zombie apocalypse. Enter 7 Days to Die, a new game available for various consoles which puts you, in first-person fashion, right into the middle of things. Well, we say middle of things, but what we mean is the wilderness.
The goal of the game is to build yourself a safe environment, defend it at all costs, and do whatever else you might want. It is an open world title that feels a little like Minecraft‘s survival mode crossed with Dying Light. That is, it is the former’s open world with the latter’s brutal environment.
7 Days to Die, as with those games, features a day-night cycle and unless absolutely required, you don’t want to spend the night out and about. Other games offer the ability to skip day or night at the player’s whim, but 7 Days to Die has no such mechanic and consequently at one point playing the game, as night fell, we found a little safe corner of our house, set the controller down, and walked off to make a snack in the other room. Upon returning, five of the six night hours had passed and we were safe once more. As delicious as the snack may have been, it’s a pretty poor game mechanic.
The reason this exists, it seems, is that every seven days the zombies get truly eager and pull out all the stops in their attempts to find, and kill, the player. The game does not want that skipped because those zombies can find you inside your house. Even so, on the other nights it would be great to speed things up so that you can head back out in moderately greater safety.
Unfortunately, the zombies can’t actually always find you in your house. They may know exactly where one is, but due to some glitchy programming not be able to get to the player, just spinning around in circles near you instead. Beyond that, while the game would have one fortify their defenses, other glitches allow zombies to run right through spikes that would kill the player.
Even learning the various aspects of what one should do in the game takes time. 7 Days to Die starts up with only a minimal introduction/amount of advice offered, but a terribly involved, intricate, and none-too-user-friendly setup. In a massive menu set, one has to slowly pick through what can be made rather than having any sort of highlighting present to narrow stuff down. It takes a long time to work out the controls, how to accomplish goals, and just about every little thing. Gathering resources is a terribly important aspect of the game and yet how to go about getting things is difficult to decipher. Some objects (rocks, flowers) can be picked up when a button prompt appears. Other things (garbage, cars), can be searched when a button prompt appears. Then there’s something like gathering grass (a crucial skill). There is no button prompt. There is no indication it can be picked up. In fact, it can’t. Grass has to be punched to be gathered (or cut with an axe or similar). No prompt will offer this advice. Why flowers can be pulled but grass cannot is a mystery and not one with a satisfactory answer.
The issue is actually worse than that as interacting with objects is cumbersome even when one knows what to do. One needs to be pointed in the exact right manner to bring up the correct prompt. This leads to regular questions as to whether one has found something with which one isn’t meant to interact or if one is just not quite correctly pointed at it (this makes the grass issue above that much harder to decipher for the uninitiated).
This sort of frustration is not improved by the game’s visuals. The graphics, to put it simply, aren’t good. Distance fog obfuscates nearly everything and even short of the distance fog zombies will randomly appear on a road that a moment earlier had been clear. Viewed at from the right angle, the plants are clearly two dimensional. Colors are murky and indistinct as well.
Then there is the fact that the game regularly stutters as one moves, pausing ever so briefly as it, seemingly, loads the next portion of the map. Other visual issues include a flickering candle flame existing without a candle beneath it.
So, in short, there’s a minimal amount of story, difficulty controlling the game, glitch response even when one knows what to do, and poor visuals. The core of the idea in 7 Days to Die is good, but the execution leaves something to be desired. It is a title where greatness always feels as though it is just around the corner but never arrives.
7 Days to Die is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Violence, and Strong Language. This game can also be found on: Xbox One and Windows PC.