Survival horror games are a genre I’ve been enjoying for years, with a focus recently on fairly nasty multiplayer such as DayZ. I picked up 7 Days to Die in this year’s Steam summer sales as a refreshing change of pace from constantly fighting with other people to try and focus more on the survival aspects of the games. I’d been interested for a while but it’s still in Early Access, and you all know how I feel about Early Access games! So I wasn’t willing to pick it up at full price.
However, this is one game that I’ve discovered doesn’t live up to the usual Early Access problems. While I still reel at the term and the idea behind it, I have had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to survive and haven’t noticed too many issues that I normally encounter with an Early Access game. Most of my first night was spent running from one undead dog who just wouldn’t give up no matter what I did, and eventually building a house with traps around the outside that I kept walking into and injuring myself. Yeah, I’m that guy.
The game is very sandboxy, in that you can go anywhere on the map and build whatever defences you want to protect yourself. You can grow food such as corn or blueberries, hunt animals for food and skins for crafting, and craft tools and weapons, or even build houses and fortresses. 7 Days to Die features both singleplayer and multiplayer modes, with multiplayer being as large or small scale as you want. I spent most of the weekend playing with just myself and my fiancé, meaning we didn’t have to worry about people who were just out to break your defences down for fun. While that certainly has its place, I wasn’t in the mood, and it was nice to be able to switch off.
One of my favourite features, however, is that you can add someone to your friends list. Something so simple, but such a vast quality of life improvement for a game that benefits greatly from collaboration. This allows you to see each other on the map if both players accept, and makes it easier to team up to fight the zombie hordes together, or indeed other players if you decide to play on a larger multiplayer server.
It isn’t a horror as such, but it is quite frightening to be running around at night and realise that those shambling zombies you avoided so easily in the daytime? Yeah, they get a new lease of life (or unlife?) during the night or in dark areas, meaning they’re significantly faster and much more dangerous as a result! They also will break anything, including walls, windows, rooves, the floor — literally anything to get at you and your delicious brains. You will start to smell if you carry around fresh food as well, particularly if it’s on your toolbelt, making it much harder to hide even underground or in a structure, so it’s worth storing food safely to avoid being attacked. The game forces you to be inventive with your creations to make sure you reduce the chances of your house being destroyed, or you being killed.
Like Rust, placing a sleeping bag or bed will create a respawn point for you, which makes the game significantly easier with regards to sticking with friends or near your house, where all of your gear has been stored in storage chests and gun lockers. Aeroplanes will fly overhead and drop supply drops from time to time, with bottled water or food, or even weapons if you’re lucky.
7 Days to Die is fun but not without its downsides, however. Combat is still a little buggy, and while running away from a zombie I would dodge in to smack it in the face and would somehow hit — wait for it — a blade of grass which would soak all of my damage, meaning the zombie clocked me one on the head and I died. Most unfortunate! Also, zombie dogs can and will climb ladders to attack you viciously when you least expect it. I have died several times when there was nothing nearby, and I wasn’t bleeding out. It seems that a zombie hit me when I was on low health but there were no zombies in my near vicinity, so I’m not sure how that happened.
The audio is also a little buggy, with zombies screaming equally loudly regardless of how far away they are. This makes it pretty difficult to tell exactly where zombies are, which is somewhat interesting but mostly just frustrating for someone who relies on directional sound to figure out when someone is sneaking up on them.
I would still recommend the game if you enjoy games like Minecraft or Rust for their survival and building aspects, but if you’re on the fence about it try to pick it up during a sale, or wait til it comes out of Early Access. Definitely a fun game though, with a lot of scope for improvement too.