HIGH An interesting microcosm of all the things that make survival sandbox games a good time…
LOW …as well as the things that make survival sandbox games a tedious, buggy chore.
WTF This game is nowhere near complete, but is being sold as final!
If there was ever a genre that could serve as the poster child for early access, it’s the open-world survival game.
While they’re not the only ones doing it, titles like DayZ, H1Z1, Ark: Survival Evolved, and RUST most visibly represent the practice of selling a game that is still in active development, inviting players to both fund that development and be party to all the changes, refinements, and mistakes that the developers will make on the way to the “true” release. It might work for some, but this ends up a real problem for 7 Days To Die.
The fact is, 7 Days is nowhere near complete and barely even qualifies as stable, but is being sold on PS4 as a final product. Unlike Xbox One or Steam, Sony has no formal early access program. While that certainly plays a part in this odd turn of events, it isn’t a good excuse for the state of this release, and it feels outright deceptive. I imagine that paying customers would feel like they’ve been had if they bought this game for full price, and I wouldn’t blame them.
Putting aside issues the technical (and possibly ethical) issues, however, does reveal a reasonably engaging — if largely unoriginal — core of play.
7 Days To Die revolves around a weekly cycle of crafting-focused survival in a nondescript wilderness teeming with hostile mutants. Players cobble together everything they need to live from resources found about the landscape, assembling gear from recipes and snapping together pre-built parts to form various forts. The act of assembling the fort in particular feels satisfying, scratching that good old Minecraft itch by conveying a real feeling of accomplishment and purpose in a game that otherwise has little narrative or story-based motivation.
The other mechanics are fairly typical for the survival genre, featuring constantly-dwindling meters of hunger, thirst, fatigue, and temperature. Play largely revolves around keeping those meters filled by scavenging while still making enough time to construct and reinforce a proper fort by week’s end. Why the fort? Apart from shelter, a huge wave of powerful enemies will descend upon the area, testing every defense players have built and every survival technique they’ve learned. The properly-prepared survive, and the unprepared are devoured.
Unfortunately, this compelling premise is undermined at every turn by its abysmal technical situation. Dropped weapons fall through the ground, enemies clip through walls, doors, and floors, and some systems are outright broken. The interface is also badly optimized for console, with barely legible font sizes and a slow, cursor-driven menu system. Despite having so little genre competition on the PS4, 7 Days To Die ends up feeling substandard, and it’s unconscionable that Telltale would be willing to publish and release the game in this state.
Even three months and numerous patches after release, it’s clear that this project is nowhere near complete.Worse, the developers are clearly prioritizing the more successful PC version over this compromised port job. Console-owning fans of the survival genre may find something to enjoy in 7 Days To Die, but my advice is to steer clear all the same.
Disclosures: This game was developed by The Fun Pimps and published by The Fun Pimps and Telltale Games. It is currently available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and was reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 20 hours of play were devoted to the single-player and multiplayer modes, and the game was not completed.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game’s rating is M, and contains blood and gore, strong language, and violence. The game centers around the player dealing with adverse survival situations, and fights both zombies and other players. Realistic violence is shown in the game, and the writing and audio contains some strong profanity. Online interactions are possible in multiplayer.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing: The game has subtitle options, though unsubtitled audio cues from enemy creatures can play a significant factor in situational awareness.
Remappable Controls: All button controls can be remapped.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes in the game, and the art style may be difficult to decipher for players who have difficulty seeing dark objects.
Today he continues to write for a living while trying to turn his fledgling knowledge of Japanese into a marketable skill. He is Managing Editor of Japanese culture site Japanator and is a Contributing Editor for Destructoid. He has written for The Escapist, The California Literary Review, Esquire Magazine, and proudly holds the badge as the premier apologist for Star Trek Online.