How best to describe 7 Days to Die? Basically, just think of Minecraft, but self consciously tailored to ‘grown ups’ and not as polished, complete, or… actually fun.
7 Days to Die is a zombie survival/crafting game developed by The Fun Pimps and published by Telltale Games. Don’t let the Telltale name tag fool you into thinking you’re getting a story driven adventure on the same level as their own Walking Dead games though.
See, 7 Days to Die is pretty light on story. You’re thrown into a randomly generated post apocalyptic world, but before you can really do anything, you have to craft. You have to craft your motherfucking heart out, my friend.
Everything you need in this game is based on crafting. That’s a huge part of the game obviously, so I wouldn’t mind this so much – but the crafting system is just such a horrendous pain in the arse.
The start of a new file will always see you wake up in a randomly generated world with no clothes and limited resources, so there’s always a rush to create clothes from plant fibres, sort yourself a rudimentary weapon, and build some kind of base to survive the night.
This all sounds fine in theory, but the practice of gathering resources is such a phenomenal ballache. Allow me to give you an account of my first day in 7 Days to Die, to better illustrate my point.
I spent my first hour on the game gathering wood (behave) and scouring the floor for stones to make an axe (not an easy task considering the awful textures make stones very hard to spot).
The zombies were kind enough to stay away during this period, which was great. It took me another half hour to gather all the wood I needed to build a base that I could actually stand up in.
By the time I’d done all this, night had fallen and I realised my character had other needs to take care of – making sure your guy is fed and watered is just as vital as not having his face chewed off by some undead nutter, but this is no easy process either.
I found eggs in a nearby bird’s nest, but they needed to be boiled in water before I could eat them. Clean water, in turn, must be scavenged from dirty water that you purify.
Every task, whether it’s curing your dysentery or crafting a better weapon, seems to involve a tedious and often overlong hunt for a list of items, all to extend your life by a few seconds more.
I applaud the realism in this regard – obviously real life survival would be a painful moment to moment affair – but I prefer my videogames to sex it up a little bit. Honestly, what’s the point in virtual survival when virtual life is this dull?
It doesn’t help that the interface was clearly not designed for consoles. 7 Days to Die came out on PC first, and while it’s hardly game breaking stuff, using a gamepad to navigate the menus can be clunky and adds to the overall sluggishness of the experience.
Okay, so now let’s assume you’re a man (or woman) of patience. You appreciate the long game aspect of 7 Days to Die and feel that’s all part of what the title is about. Fair enough – I applaud you. I don’t understand you, but I applaud you.
Even if (and it’s one hell of an if) you don’t mind the horrific pace of the crafting/gathering system, I can’t imagine anyone will enjoy the combat.
Zombies randomly spawn and disappear, with fights for your life often resulting in you simply walking round a zombie and twatting it with a club until it falls over. It’s kind of like that scene in Shaun of the Dead (below) but not intentionally funny.
You can build more substantial weapons, such as shotguns and rifles, but they’re such a piss take to cobble together that it’s really not worth it unless you get to the point where gangs of zombies can group up and overwhelm you – but I honestly don’t know how many people will have the patience to get that far in.
It doesn’t help that the visuals are insultingly poor, and the framerate stutters horribly on PS4, which doesn’t do much at all for the already clunky combat.
Oh, and a thick layer of fog stops you seeing more than 20 feet in front of you – not really ideal for a game that wants you to go out and explore the world.
Friends can play together via local co-op, and PSN subscribers can take the survival online. However, this does nothing to spice things up, and only really succeeds in spreading the misery among more people.
In a long list of cool shit I want to do with mates in a videogame, spending an hour cutting down trees does not rank (unless it was Runescape and I was 12, but it’s not and I’m not).
In short, 7 Days to Die is an interesting concept that’s been done better by a dozen other games. If you want zombie survival fun, go and play Day Z or State of Decay. If you want to build shit, pick up Minecraft (or a LEGO set).
There may be 7 Days to Die, but I can almost guarantee you’ll perish from boredom in the first few hours.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.