In a world where everything wants to kill you, you are tasked with surviving waves of the undead. And no, it’s not Australia. That’s right, we’re reviewing 7 Days to Die [official site]! Is it worth buying?
Hanging, gripping for dear life on the edge of Early Access, to stay on the almost-finished-but-it’ll-probably-still-be-another-few-years spectrum, is 7 Days to Die. It’s pushing it now. It’s squeezing the Early Access juice out of Steam. It’s just there. It’s been there for over three years, and there it stays. I wonder when it’ll be finished. Whether it’ll be finished. Maybe soon. Maybe never. All we can do is hope.
This review will be a bit different, in that it’s easier and more interesting if I recount the near entirety of my friend’s and my experience. Some of the settings have been tweaked to make the game a tad more action-packed and less boring, but besides that, it’s all still pretty much the same.
So, my mate and I started a few kilometres apart, me in an abandoned town (except for walking dead people) and him in a snowy wasteland of sorts, trying to find each other. It took a little while, because he was more determined to navigate to my coordinates, whereas I was just wandering around aimlessly, trying to find resources for the two of us for when he actually arrived (because I sure as anything knew he wasn’t). This also included following the convenient tutorial system that would assist me and explain the basics of tools, weapons, crafting and building. After following this tutorial, I was all decked out and ready to get to the real big boy stuff, such as looting old houses and dead corpses to obtain actually valuable items.
Everybody wants a slice!
By the time he arrived, I had gathered a small collection of brass doorknobs, a warm sweater, a cooking pot, an almost unlimited supply of empty glass jars, a few casino tokens, some cloth, a handful of poisonous berries that tasted delicious, a rocket launcher barrel, a lump of clay, a lump of coal, a schematic for a medieval-looking iron helmet, an assortment of all the different kinds of metal that you can find and some other bits and bobs. I distributed the items evenly, making sure to use as much space in our backpacks as humanly possible, and we went on our merry way. Twenty seconds later, we realised that it was pitch black, and we had forgotten one of the biggest parts of surviving in this unforgiving environment – shelter. We forgot to chop down trees for wood and build a base.
So there we were, in the black of night, running around like headless chooks, attempting to hit anything that looked like it might be a tree. Several times we smacked each other over the head with our stone axes, mistaking each other for sprinting dead guys, but in the end it was all worth the brain damage, because we managed to build a moderately stable timber shack. We placed our sleeping bags in there as a precaution (because we all know when we die we respawn at our beds), and we sat silently and waited for the next ten minutes of hearing ghastly noises coming from what seemed to be dehydrated people all around the shack to come to an end.
Going out for a midnight stroll (this didn’t happen that night, of course).
The next morning we broke through our heavily barricaded door and set off on an adventure. Actually, we logged off for a little while and read some game guides and “tips and tricks” articles which would hopefully shed some light on this extremely-nervewracking-at-times game. We found a few good base designs for night seven, which sends a massive horde of zombies to completely demolish you and whatever defence you have. Keeping all of this in mind, we ditched half of what we thought to be good resources, because it turns out they weren’t so good, and went to gather things worth our time and energy. Some of those things were food, water, medical supplies and clothing (because it got cold at times), which were found laying around in house cupboards, medicine cabinets and sometimes on the occasional zombie that we’d have to kill. At the time, those items were our first priority, as opposed to weapons and building equipment.
As we scavenged and looted, we heard an earth-rumbling roar. The roar of a plane. There was a plane. It’s an airdrop. We ran as fast as we could to the airdrop. Getting to it was difficult, as darkness dropped relatively fast, and we ended up building another small hut to live through the night. After another night of terrible noises, as soon as the new day dawned we started running again.
We made it to the airdrop and were generously rewarded with another rocket launcher barrel which I decided to scrap for more metal, some SMG parts which I also decided to scrap, a few first aid kits and a note titled “kill the wabbit”. I read it, and it gave us a challenge – to kill rabbits with a sawn-off shotgun. We didn’t have any guns so I threw the note away. The search for good items continued.
After a couple of days of racing through towns and rushing to airdrops, we had found some stuff. Not great stuff, but stuff nonetheless. Actually, my mate managed to “find” the items to make this cool minibike, although I don’t entirely believe him; cheat mode was on in case there were some cool screenshots I needed to fly to take, and I told him to not obtain items illegitimately, but I couldn’t monitor his every move. What we really needed were guns, which he didn’t think to cheat in, and as horde night grew closer we got more and more worried. On day six we gathered a truckload of wood, stone and metal and started building a base, which we continued to construct through day seven. It looked like one of those houses on stilts, with holes in the floor that we could shoot zombies through. We placed chests to store our stuff in and bedrolls to lock our spawn point in our base. We were looking more prepared by the minute and were feeling very confident.
As it got darker the sky turned red, which indicated that we were about to be met with one of our biggest challenges yet. Then one zombie sprinted up to our base. Easy pickings. Then another zombie came. And another one. And another one. And before we knew it, twenty of the buggers were piling up to have a bash at the door into the ladder room to get up. While my friend kept firing his bow at them through the holes in the floor, which the dead guys obviously didn’t realise were there, I ran into the top ladder room and started breaking the ladder, but it was too late. They rushed up and overwhelmed us. After we tried to respawn and got absolutely destroyed again, we gave up and left and deleted the save and quit the game forever. Actually, probably not forever, but he vowed never to touch it for the rest of his life. Give him a day or two, he’ll be playing again.
This picture isn’t on horde night as the sky is blood red and foggy, but I thought it was a cool picture nonetheless.
The rest of the review
7 Days to Die is absolutely fantastic. It’s very well executed, and its take on a zombie apocalypse while still taking realism into account is great. The pre-built world looks beautiful and the ones that you can have randomly generated, although a bit buggy, are awesome too. There are traders that you can sell to and buy from, which may be small, but add a great deal to the perception of living things. Zombies are of utmost concern, but bears, bandits (which I haven’t come across yet), the weather and your hunger and thirst levels, if not kept an eye on frequently, can be just as dangerous.
Every game comes with its issues, and 7 Days to Die’s issues lie mainly where framerate and general optimisation is involved. The screenshots, although they may seem beautiful, put a very high amount of stress on my rig and my FPS was jumping around, for the most part between 20-30. If you have a beefy computer, then go for your life, but if you don’t then it’s probably best to stick with the default settings, or even lower them a bit.
There are some other small details as well, such as odd hitboxes and shooting past zombies’ heads as opposed to dealing damage. Another small thing which would add a lot of immersion with some alteration is the bugginess of the randomly generated maps (as stated above); cars, wheels and cardboard boxes sticking out of the tarmac isn’t all that realistic. My last complaint is the time that the game has taken so far, and it’s still not complete yet. I understand developers need to take their time, and when it comes to games with big ambitions a lot of patience is involved, but it has been in Early Access for over three years. Release the damned game, you can always update it frequently later! Take a look at Minecraft, that went through lots of “officially done but not actually done just yet” releases, why can’t 7 Days to Die?
Anyway, despite those few points, I can’t stress enough that it’s a brilliant game. It’s brilliant. You should buy it. 7 Days looks, feels and genuinely is outstanding. If you’ve played games like Rust, Unturned or H1Z1 and had fun, you should definitely give 7 Days to Die a go. It’s brilliant.
👍 7 Days to Die IS worth the US$25 it is available for.
This review was written for the PC version of the game.