Telltale Games may not have the Midas touch, despite all their successes, but to publish such a shoddy console release seems completely out of character for one of the most popular studios around. In fairness, this is the first game Telltale has supported beyond its own roster of story-driven adventures, but with such an eye for good quality, the decision to take 7 Days To Die under its wing just doesn’t add up.
Developed by The Fun Pimps, it originally launched via Steam Early Access back in 2013 following a successful Kickstarter campaign. With half a million dollars to play with, the Dallas-based indie set about creating its own take on the burgeoning survival horror franchise. It’s a genre that continues to expand even today, and getting their foot in the door early certainly helped 7 Days To Die reach its 1.5 million sales milestone.
Like The Forest, H1Z1, and non-horror games such as Rust, there’s a large emphasis on crafting. Whether playing alone, with a buddy via splitscreen, or online, those first few minutes are always spent gathering resources. This can be done in a number of ways, though beating plants and trees with your bare fists seems to work just fine.
Over time you’ll construct a variety of tools, weapons, and other helpful items. Whatever you decide to make, the end goal here is to survive in this hostile world for as long as possible, with a blood moon rising every seven days and greater hordes of mutants emerging alongside it. 7 Days To Die affords players the freedom to approach this however they like. While some will look to build bases or secure abandoned structures, others may want to keep moving, travelling through the scarred plains of Navezgane like post-apocalyptic nomads.
Long-term survival hinges on more than just keeping your health bar full. Scanning the character menu, you’ll see a number of vital statistics – like temperature, hunger, and thirst – that need to be monitored and kept in check. Discovering new and effective techniques to do so can be exhaustive, yet rewarding at the same time.
For example, to purify murky water, it can be safely boiled used a campfire and the correct materials. However, gathering these specific resources and crafting them at designated stations is where the game stops being fun. The more advanced the end product, the longer you’ll spend pounding on trees, rocks, and other nodes, ticking items off an ever-growing shopping list.
For this reason alone, 7 Days To Die is incredibly hard to recommend for anyone but fans of the genre – it’s a long way from the engrogging stories that having Telltale’s name attached might imply. The time and effort required to reach the game’s top crafting tier is pretty huge, even with four players working together in tandem. For one lone survivor, 7 Days demands an inhuman level of patience, and that’s only if you can stomach its many other issues.
Combat, for one, is mind numbingly lifeless. Whether chipping away with an axe or unloading a shotgun, there’s barely any feedback whatsoever. While the mutants occasionally flinch, for the most part they’ll remain frozen, completely devoid of any dynamic animation.
This ties into the game’s overall presentation which, even for a budget current gen release, remarkably poor. Iron Galaxy’s port is disappointingly buggy, for one thing, and the game’s graphics are terribly basic, from character models to textures and lighting. Wherever you step foot in Navezgane, you’ll come across some truly garish sights, especially if you dare to venture underwater. The audio is just as bad, with music and sound effects cutting in and out, failing to create a meaningful atmosphere.
Although not entirely intuitive, one of 7 Days’ few merits is its transition to gamepad from mouse and keyboard. Remembering the various inputs can take time though they allow for shortcuts to certain important windows, reducing the time spent cycling through menus.
When buddied up with three fellow survivors, there’s certainly some fun to be had. However, these moments will usually stem from the hilarious situations you’ll find yourselves in, enhanced by the game’s dumb raft of bugs and glitches.
Version Tested: PS4