7 Days to Die is a survival horror game that attempts to combine the deep crafting of Minecraft with the open-world zombie survival of DayZ. It’s been in early access on PC for a while now and has built a dedicated community there, which makes it a real shame that the game’s PS4 and Xbox One release is such a catastrophe.
I’ve written so many game reviews and I genuinely don’t know where to start with this one. Developed by The Fun Pimps (a developer who should think twice about that name), 7 Days to Die looks like an incomplete alpha from the PS2 era, it plays like you’re wading through molasses, the menus make me long for Skyrim‘s awful vanilla UI and the zombie combat feels like a one-sided slow-motion slapfight against a model bug-out in Gary’s Mod.
The first thing that leapt out at me was the fog. I thought we left draw-distance-limiting fog in the Nintendo 64-era where it belonged. The fog apparently does nothing though, because the frame rate leaps about at will, and the game will frequently lock up for a few seconds before coming good again. The models that do spring up out of the dense fog are blocky and are terribly clipped so that you snag on everything. The textures are either so muddy as to be completely unidentifiable or they’re complete, but badly drawn.
The crafting system should have been the game’s saving grace and it’s easy to see that it was a focus for the developers. All of the crafting recipes are reasonably well-thought out and make a certain amount of sense. Unfortunately, it’s a chore to find anything and some of the collection methods don’t really make sense — one of the first crafting assignments is to build a stone axe. This required two rocks, some plant fiber and some wood. It took me a solid thirty minutes to realise that punching a tree was the correct procedure for accumulating wood because the idea seemed so utterly daft. This approach arguably works in Minecraft because that game doesn’t play at realism the way this one does. The menus are also a grind to manipulate, with many recipes simply being quite difficult to find.
Another irritating point about 7 Days to Die — the game’s title is apparently meaningless. When I began the game, a timer bar appeared at the top of the screen. DAY 1, it read. Okay, I thought, I must actually have seven days to forage about and see how long I hold out. Not only was I able to survive a full week, but the game seems to rattle on into eternity. Apparently the only thing that happens at the end of seven days is that more zombies show up to hassle you.
Hassle is definitely the right the word to describe the game’s combat. When zombies do finally start showing up, they twitch about the barren landscape like crackheads itching for a fix. When they spot you, they hurry over and, more often than not, stand completely still, waiting obligingly for you to bash them over the head. When you do hit them, around 75% of the time the zombies will give no indication that the hit made contact or that they took any damage at all.
Even the fact that you can play online or split-screen co-op can’t save this junker from itself. After getting online with a group of three other Rando Calrissians, we only survived about fifteen minutes before people started leaving in disgust, or began to fight each other out of sheer boredom. Not a good look.
The thing that really raised my eyebrows about 7 Days to Die is that it is the first game outside of their own work to be published by Telltale Games, a company who have become renowned for their own stable of quality titles. Why they chose this dilapidated mess as their first publication is beyond me.
I don’t enjoy writing reviews like this. I don’t actually enjoy dumping all over something people probably worked very hard to make. This is a game with a great elevator pitch, but it fails to deliver on every possible level. A buggy, unfinished, unplayable mess.
Score: 2.0 out of 10
Highlights: Great in theory
Lowlights: Bad graphics, bad gameplay, bad design, bad everything
Developer: The Fun Pimps
Publisher: Telltale Publishing
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: July 6, 2016
Reviewed on PlayStation 4