Kill It. Kill It With Fire! –
7 Days To Die sounds awesome on paper – take the hunting/gathering/crafting of Minecraft in a realistic-ish Fallout-like open environment and add some Resident Evil zombies and Left4Dead 4-player co-op. Unfortunately, the final product is so broken and terrible, it is actually pretty amazing how bad it really is despite having such a winning recipe.
There are so many problems with 7 Days To Die it is difficult to find a place to start. To quickly summarize, there is no story, there is zero indication on what it is you are supposed to be doing, the visuals are shockingly low res, the frame rate stutters so often I thought my Xbox was going to break, and the PC interface is the exact opposite of intuitive for a console environment. This is a leading contender for the most broken and not fun game of 2016.
When players tried Super Mario Bros. for the first time, they quickly realized they needed to run to the right, hop on bad guys, and reach the end of the stage by sliding down a flagpole. Point being, the game has a clear objective that is easily determined. 7 Days To Die has no objective or indication on what to do. Only after aimlessly walking around a drab environment for 20 minutes did I even realize my naked body can punch grass, trees and rocks to gather resources. Once the correct materials are collected, items and weapons can be crafted. But then, that is where it ends. I guess you are supposed to hunker down and set traps Deception-style to keep zombies at bay but the resource gathering and broken UI is so boring I actually have more fun trying to build my credit score.
Let me tell the story of one of my play-throughs to explain just how awful this game is. First, my two buddies sent me an invite to join their game so I accepted. Upon first spawning into the world, I am greeted with a pitch black environment, thinking I was still in a loading screen. As it turns out, I started my quest in the middle of night so the environment was just about completely black. Wanting to join my friends, I realized I started in the opposite corner of the map from where they were. But I was only able to determine this after stumbling through the map screen’s interface and activating my friend’s location option. Why don’t they pop up on my HUD by default? Why can’t I see anything? How the hell am I supposed to find items in pitch dark? Why are there zombies? Why am I naked? Who am I and what am I supposed to do? How can I not break my fist by repeatedly punching a giant rock? If I am naked, how am I carrying all these resources? Where do a find a feather and why do I need one? Why didn’t I spawn near my friends? Why does this game hate me? These are just some questions that immediately comes to mind after playing for about 15 minutes.
Once I figured out that I was not frozen in a black screen, I was left to wander naked in the dark. The game first asked me to gather resources to make clothes and weapons but this is literally impossible when there is no light so my first 30 minutes was nothing but empty frustration. Once the sun started coming up, I was actually able to see where I was going but the game never told me what I was supposed to be doing or where things are located. After picking up a bunch of crap from random garbage piles, I was killed by a zombie. The game then respawns the player at their origin point but you lose all your possessions. In order to recollect them, you need to walk back, naked, to your dead body to reclaim your stuff. Unfortunately, my progress was interrupted as I was attacked and re-killed by a pack of five zombies. Since I was naked, I had no way to defend myself. And now, my original pile of stuff was lost forever because the game only keeps track of your previous life. In the meantime, my friends are trying to build a fort like four miles away.
Needless to say, my first experiences were nothing but frustrating. However, even if the gameplay didn’t hate you, the broken interface does. Its PC origins shout loud and clear as everything has a point-and-click interface which simply doesn’t work with an Xbox One controller. Not only that, the player has to manually do everything and sift through needless menu tasks to do anything. For example, say you want to use your bow and arrow. First, you need to mindlessly punch trees and grass, because you know, one would punch grass in real life to make a bow. Once you gather everything, the player has to navigate the cumbersome menus to actually construct the bow, then the arrows, then assign the bow to the weapon slot, then assign the arrows to the weapon slot, then back out of the menu to the game screen, then somehow know to hold down the “B” button to bring up the arrow wheel, then select the arrow you want, then you’ll be all set. Phew, try doing all that with a pack of zombies charging toward you.
This port to Xbox One is lazily put together. There was nothing done to move the experience seamlessly from a mouse and keyboard PC interface to a controller setting. All the text in the menus is also impossibly small to read and the game drops frames worse than a blind paraplegic with Parkinson’s disease. The lack of care is down disrespectful to anyone to purchases this full retail copy.
Again, there are so many things wrong with 7 Days To Die it is rather infuriating. If you somehow had the tenacity to actually figure out what the hell you are even supposed to be do, get over the tremendously steep learning curve, and deal with the clunky interface, then maybe there is some fun to be had here if you can play a few buddies online. My experience, however, was nothing but pain and misery.
Not As Good As: a Minecraft clone
Play It Instead: zombie mode in CoD
Also Try: The Walking Dead
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com