7 Days to Die is a simple, buggy mess that resembles the first of Telltale Games’ offerings rather than its stellar releases of late.
Developed by The Fun Pimps and released to Steam Early Access back in 2013 — where the game still resides, by the way — Telltale decided it would be a great idea to help get the survival crafting game onto consoles. The result is a Minecraft try hard — with ZOMBIIIIES — that looks and runs like it’s on the PS2.
Played alone or with a friend either online (when servers hold up) or using split-screen, its premise is rather simple — naked and without supplies, you need to forage, build and survive for as long as possible. The opening tutorial will show you how to gather wood, cloth and stone — no surprises here; you punch at whatever you need — to then enter an on-screen menu system to begin crafting. Therein lies the first problem: crafting is a pain in the ass. All of 7 Days to Die‘s menus are clearly re-appropriated from the game’s PC release, a cluttered, jumbled mess that is frustrating to use with a controller. I struggled to build a bow and arrow early on — because I couldn’t find the bow in the menu, for starters — but also because I couldn’t find a damn feather anywhere. Turns out, I should have been searching through dumpsters rather than scouring the skies for a bird. Alrighty.
Apparently, I could have also looked around for a bird’s nest in order to find a feather. I probably walked by one about fifty times, but its polygonal, grey mass looks identical to any of the 3,000 small rocks that littered the landscape I found myself in. The world of Navezgane is procedurally generated, and quite poorly at that. You’ll be thrown into desert cactus land, everything’s on fire world or rocky, cement block riddled brick house remnant town. Better yet, the landscape abruptly changes as you continue forward, making what’s supposed to be a fairly realistic game completely ridiculous. Beyond that mess, graphics are so simplistic you’ll want to throw up; assets are continually repeated without any shame, making everything bland and boring. That’s pretty much the worst place you want your game to be if you’re trying to encourage a player to explore. Textures continually popped in and out as I explored, and framerates skipped along and frequently seized at many points in my playthrough. Oddly enough, the soundtrack and in-world sound effects did the same thing, cutting in and out at seemingly random times.
As if this weren’t enough, your character can easily be afflicted by any number of maladies, ranging from heat stroke to diphtheria to simply bleeding out. I was continually amazed at how trivial these systems were; in a certain corner of a completely self-contained shelter, I found my character getting wet from the rain because of… well, reasons, I guess? As it got dark out — and the scary creepers zombies came out — I equipped a torch as it was too dark to see in the shelter; that caused my character to get heat stroke somehow. The answer was to sit in the dark and wait for daylight. It was simply riveting.
It gets better. The next day, I set off to find new supplies and somehow stumbled into an area thick with atomic fallout. I died from radiation poisoning before I could even comprehend what was happening.
Combat systems are an afterthought. Each and every weapon feels light, never giving a sense of impact as you flail away at zombies or human survivors alike. They’re hollow and without a soul, just like 7 Days to Die itself. As soon as more than two zombies are near you, there’s no point in even trying to take them on. You’ll die. It’s not scary or tension-filled, it’s just a boring fact of life.
There’s a lot that’s theoretically good about the game, but nothing ever comes together to form something you’ll enjoy. The only merriment I had whilst playing was making fun of each and every little thing I experienced. I mean, check out Emma up there, Donald Trump’s orange-faced, balding, ponytail-sporting distant cousin. Top quality stuff, eh?
7 Days to Die is awful. I’d imagine this is how the PC release initially played back in 2013 as part of Steam Early Access; I’m utterly confused as to why there’s no polish at all on this new console release. There’s no excuse for such a flimsy mess, and I’m quite surprised Telltale Games would permit its name to be associated with such tripe. Avoid the game at all costs.
7 Days to Die was reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox One, as provided by the publisher.
Review: 7 Days to Die