Open world survival games are nothing new. In fact, for the past several years they have started to saturate the market. Many survival games have attempted to play a twist on this genre. This is especially prevalent with survival horror games: “Rust,” “DayZ,” “The Forest,” “Don’t Starve.” These games have tried to perfect the formula that has infected the survival genre. While stuck in early access hell, most games of this genre fall short when it comes to quality. “7 Days to Die,” though, seems to be the odd exception.
Admittedly, “7 Days to Die” is still in early access. Regardless, it is at the moment, a fully playable and functioning product. The only reason for the early access status is because the creators are still adding more end game content. More weapons, armor vehicles etc. Out of all of the games I have played within the survival horror genre, “7 Days to Die” is by far the most rewarding.
It combines strikingly difficult gameplay with foraging, survival, and creation elements that most would expect for these sorts of games. Harsh climates which bring debuffs, a multitude of zombies each with different combat elements, the need to drink and eat, weather, other players; all of these elements act as obstacles the player must overcome. There is a difficulty adjustment system within the game which can allow new players to easily learn the ropes.
Supplies aren’t just handed to you, but are instead supposed to be constructed; you aren’t likely to find a gun just sitting in a drawer somewhere. You are instead, forced to craft useful items with the abundant natural resources around you. Get sick? There are naturally restorative plants all around you. Attacked by zombies? Make a club. This idea is nothing new, but where “7 Days to Die” shines is in its unique gimmick: the seven days’ swarm, or the Blood Moon by its official in-game title.
This mechanic ties the whole game’s design together; every seven days, an increasingly difficult, unavoidable horde is spawned in your immediate area. This horde acts as a constant challenge to the player. First appearing as normal zombies in a considerable mass, to zombie bears and feral monstrosities in later weeks. This concept makes the player constantly progress not only in terms of weapons and equipment but base construction as well.
The sound design is phenomenal. Most dangers of the game have unique sound triggers — this keeps the player listening and ever alert. The design of the world is admittedly a little clunky. You can be in a squelching desert and be standing mere feet away from a frozen forest area. Small design grievances aside, the artistic aspect of the game is extremely strong. Lighting, atmosphere and color design are all given special attention. This makes “7 Days to Die” feel like a horror game, not just a survival game with a horror skin.
Attention to detail and the apparent love of the genre poured into this game, make it stand above the rest. That being said, it is for a niche audience. It brings an unforgiving challenge to survival that most games shy away from; the learning curve here is steep. In addition, the game is slightly graphic and plays strongly to the horror genre. This game is best played with a party of friends and isn’t meant for the faint of heart. If you like survival games or zombie games, you will LOVE “7 Days to Die.” Otherwise, give some Let’s Plays a look before investing your money. Overall, I loved this game and hope all the young hopeful game designers out there take some notes. “7 Days to Die” is survival horror done right.
All images belong to The Fun Pimps Entertainment.