7 Days to Die
The Fun Pimps
Anybody who is even remotely familiar with any of my game reviews, knows that zombie-themed games don’t really tickle my fancy. As a matter of fact, I consider them to be rather stale and hackneyed. It seems that these days, video game development companies are either too unimaginative or lazy to come up with anything other than zombies as the primary antagonists, particularly within post-apocalyptic survival games.
Now it may seem like this review is going to slam indie game developer, The Fun Pimp’s, new post-apocalyptic zombie-fest titled 7 Days to Die, but I urge you to read on. Just as you may be surprised by what follows, I was completely taken off guard by what this game had to offer.
Let’s start with how I found out about it. I’d originally seen it online mentioned in forums, where gamers were talking about survival games. Most of the 7 Days to Die mentions were not of the good sort, so that kind of removed the game from my geeky gamer radar. Then Lo-and-behold, a full year or so later, when a good gaming buddy of mine purchased the game for me (just a few days ago) sight unseen. I was like “Uh…thanks…”
Then I got the brilliant idea of going onto 7 Days to Die’s Steam page in order to see what sort of savage remarks people were making about it, just to justify not playing it. Well, to my surprise, there were many glowing reviews of it. In fact, some were calling it the greatest zombie-infused survival game to grace their PCs, or it at least had the potential to be.
After relocating and re-aligning my head from snapping back, I contacted my aforementioned gaming buddy, and asked him if he wanted to jump into a game with me. So, just a few days ago, we tried it out for the first time. Let’s just say that I might as well have been cast as one of the shambling corpses in 7 Days to Die, because of the bags that are now under my eyes—this game is hard to put down.
But let me back up. I initially thought “ho-hum, here we go with yet another zombie-splatter-fest.” I’m so used to mowing zombies down by the droves in games such as Left for Dead 2, or any of the Resident Evil or Dead Rising titles, among others, that I wasn’t really in any full-on excitement mode when I spawned into the game.
My character began with the usual meager belongings—a torch, a couple of paltry food items, and a pair of tight spandex chonies. My buddy had customized the server so that up to eight players could play in it (you can adjust it to more players, less, or simply co-op depending on your preferences). Meanwhile, he mentioned that he was a little underwhelmed about 7 Days to Die’s graphics. That is, until he realized that by default, the game’s visuals are set to Low, which prompted me to max mine out as well.
We were in the midst of trying to locate each other on 7 Days to Die’s handy map feature (which even comes complete with coordinates so that linking up with friends is much easier), and scavenging for resources, when I encountered my first zombie. I thought to myself: “Meh, zombie-shmombie, I’ve dealt with your kind before, in many untold amount of games. I’ll have at thee, shambling, and stinky tyrant!”
With that, I proceeded to lunge forward with a crude club I’d come across. From there, in short order, I proceeded to get my behind handed to me by said zombie. You see, zombies in 7 Days to Die are not only much more resilient in this game than in others of similar ilk, they also have a higher damage output. And if they manage to clench their rotting teefeseses on you, you can even get infected (I won’t spoil with what kind). After spawning back in, with nothing save my chonies this time mind you, I was a little more cautious when I saw any zombies.
Unfortunately, even though you can be as tippy-toed around them as you want, 7 Days to Die’s brand of zombies not only move faster than your average, run-of-the-mill zombies, they also often travel in packs. I guess they have some sort of sick, primal contentious nature among them to see which of them can devour the most amount of human flesh and organs.
Eventually, we made it to a decrepit, abandoned house, which my friend, the builder among us, promptly began to barricade. Eventually night fell. I remember that we were discussing something mundane such as the best place to hit a zombie with arrows, or what to do with the turd in the toilet (yes, we found one in there), when we suddenly heard something scampering around outside. As the noises increased in volume, we shushed one another and proceeded to run and hide in the turd-bathroom.
Tense moments passed as my buddy and I whimpered like little school girls, and it occurred to me that we had basically morphed into a sad version of Scooby-Doo and Shaggy, cringing together in the darkness. We heard the creature burst through the front door and run down into the basement where we were located, and then smack some things around. Let me tell you that this whole series of events was extremely taxing, stress level-wise, and quite horrifying. We grabbed our huevos, charged out into the basement, and proceeded to get torn to bits by some red-eyed, demonic looking creature.
I don’t think that I’ve ever been as frightened during a co-op game before, and after that experience with 7 Days to Die, can’t imagine ever playing it solo. Every single night that passes by, random things can go down, but they all have something in common—they’re all designed to scare the bejesus out of you, and they are quite effective in doing just that. Not only is every night in 7 Days to Die a scare-inducing fright-fest, when the 7th night rolls around in-game, all hell breaks loose (no spoilers).
Not to say that 7 Days to Die’s game mechanics won’t at least give you a chance to go down swinging. It features an extensive RPG-style leveling system, complete with skill points and skill unlocking/progression (and there are many). It also has a vast array of crafting recipes—more extensive than any other survival game that I’ve played to date. This allows you to really customize your characters to suit your particular play style. Not only that, but there is a robust building system in place as well, allowing you to either build a settlement up from scratch, or, rebuild and buff up found structures.
7 Days to Die really surprised me (quite literally many times). Its graphics are nothing to write home about (although they are pretty decent), but the sheer amount of content offered in it makes it hard to believe that it’s still in Alpha. Not only is it a blast to play with friends, but when night comes, it suddenly feels like you’re stuck in a horror movie—a really terrifying one. So scary in fact, that it’s also fun to show off to friends on a beefed up gaming laptop. 7 Days to Die is definitely, in my opinion, the cream of the zombie-survival-horror crop. So much so, that as I’m writing this, I can’t wait to get back on later in order to see if my buddy and I will survive night number five.