Introduction7 Days to Die is an open-world, zombie-survival-horror game developed by The Fun Pimps. What caused this apocalypse? How are you not a zombie? Is there anybody else still alive? None of these questions will be answered, unfortunately, but is that really even important at a time like this? You must survive, and you must prolong the inevitable by any means necessary. As of now, there are no DLCs or any news of planned future DLCs. Although the game is in pre-access for Steam and receives consistent updates, the console edition is not promised to include the same in the future but has already shown the attention it deserves with some patches. You can pick this game up on PlayStation Network or Microsoft Store for $29.99, or Steam for $24.99.
GameplayThe overall experience while playing the game is an incredible one, especially with friends. There is no story involved with the game, and the only "missions" will be the beginning objectives of crafting necessities, or a treasure hunt every once in awhile when you stumble across them. The whole concept of surviving while simultaneously preparing for a horde of zombies every 7 nights makes you in constant motion. I personally don't go outside during the nights, so my time then is spent inside of my house or shelter crafting anything I need for when the morning comes. The weekly schedule within the game keeps the pace high but does a good job not to make you feel rushed.
You can customize the game settings to be whatever you wish. 24-hour cycles can be anywhere between 15 minutes to 2 hours of real time, and the night time length can be adjusted as low as 6 game hours or more. You can even customize how aggressive the zombies are, if they sprint during daytime as well as night, or if they only ever walk. You can change their length of time remembering you, and above all else you can customize the population of zombies in the world as high as 150% (really populated) to No Zombies, allowing you to freely explore and build as you please. There are many more customization options available, enhancing how you choose to play, and the beautiful thing is you're never stuck with whatever you choose to start with. Every time you quit the game and re-enter, you are asked to continue or change settings. You could essentially put no zombies in the world, build for 2 in-game weeks, then change the settings to max population and aggression and try to survive then. The possibilities are endless. There is no form of character customization, but there are a dozen or so people to choose from.
You have the option to play on the standard map known as NAVEZGANE, or a completely computer-generated map. Each map will have different regions such as pine tree forest, burnt forest, snow region, desert, all offering a slightly different appearance of zombies. Many types of zombies will be common regardless of region, but the snowy mountains will be also populated by lumberjacks as seen below, and the burnt forest will bring out zombies with burning flesh, to depict a few. Dogs are another common enemy, and you will occasionally run into them in packs, making it a dangerous encounter. One type of non-zombie enemies you will need to be cautious of are the grizzly bears roaming around. They are strong and extremely durable to your attacks.
Although I have had nothing but amazing times playing this game since launch, there are a bunch of issues that need to be mentioned. The engine that the game runs on is very slow to process major on-screen events. Sometimes when a dozen or more blocks or zombies are in motion at once, there is extreme lag (more so blocks than zombies). If you were to, for example, blow up a house with a few dozen Gasoline barrels, then you would slowly see all the building blocks fly high into the sky or crumble to the foundations below. Even though it sounds fun, the process of the blocks being destroyed will take a couple minutes as the game essentially freezes up in order to process. Of course, if you're not going to be doing too much destruction, then it should not really become an issue. Other technical problems arise randomly, such as zombies glitching halfway through walls, heads falling through the ground when they are stunned, zombies casually walking over blocks, or the dogs being caught in an invisible tornado, just spinning around.
Online features of the game are completely horrible as of now. The max people allowed in one "server" is 4 including yourself. Due to the lack of dedicated servers, everything is based on an invite only system. Meaning, if you do not originally host the game, you are unable to continue playing when the host disconnects. This can be extremely frustrating, and can make you feel you are constantly restarting unless playing strictly single player mode. The game offers local split screen which is a nice bonus for those who enjoy couch co-op gaming.
Survival 101You can never have enough food, water, and medical supplies. There are two HUD bars located in the bottom left of the screen which display your health and stamina, and periodically, icons will display above them indicating your hunger and hydration percentages. In addition to your health, it shows your wellness (the max amount of health you can possibly have). Wellness will go down without proper nutrition, disease, or death. It will alternatively increase as you eat plentifully. Clean drinks will refill portions of your stamina, as well as resolve hydration dilemmas. Vitamins and antibiotics will be key medical supplies as they will fight off new infections or even curing ones such as dysentery or a zombie bite. Death will set you back slightly but all will be fixable in time. Be sure to craft a bed roll so you can spawn back on it after dying, or else you will be randomly placed anywhere on the map.
You are given a backpack to carry a large number of items, but it can fill up quickly if you loot everything possible. Prioritizing which items are most useful is a challenge, but you can always make storage chests somewhere and mule inventory back and forth. In the beginning, you will quickly gain the supplies needed to build a wooden bow. Do so, and collect as many feathers from bird nests on the ground in order to craft arrows. This is the most efficient way of killing zombies until you progress and build a stash of guns and ammo.
CraftingThe whole premise of the game is to progressively build. From construction/mining tools to weapons, to housings, and traps to defend it all; you constantly craft everything around you. The foundation of this system is scavenging from the remaining buildings, while also acquiring all natural resources from the land itself. In the beginning, you will punch grass to collect plant fiber and a bush to collect some wood. You'll grab 2 stones off the ground, and craft it into a stone axe. From here you can chop down full trees to acquire masses of wood, or boulders to collect stones and iron.
After collecting natural resources you can craft multiple wood blocks (later reinforced steel blocks, cement block, brick blocks, and more) to build floors, walls, and ceilings. This process can be accelerated by finding an abandoned house/building and simply replacing what is missing, or repairing the broken blocks that are still present. You have from the sky all the way down to the bedrock underground to build, and no limit to how wide of an area. You could essentially have two or more bases with a very large distance in between and build bridges between them (although this would be an extremely long process and would require a ridiculous amount of resource collection). Building structures is a truly endless process, and it offers you one of the best sandboxes for creativity in building.
As you further progress in the game as well as player skills, you'll need to scavenge other necessary items for the stronger tools and weapons. You can create them yourself but again must find all the requirements, so scavenging itself accelerates a lot. You'll come across the things needed for crafting guns (if luck isn't completely on your side in finding a complete gun in the world while scavenging) such as weapon parts, weapon receiver, weapon barrel, and weapon stock. Assembling them is very easy, you'll highlight any piece, select assemble via direction pad, and it will open a side menu showing the parts missing. You'll drop the other parts into their respected slots, and BAM! You have a gun. But you need to find ammo as well. These can be scavenged or built, again needed some prerequisites in your inventory, but will come across everything in time.
Another important crafting feature is the smelter. You have to build your own, but it will be well worth it. The iron you gather while smashing rocks or even mining underground can be used to upgrade wooden blocks to iron blocks, or they can be smelter to created forged iron, along countless other quality items. Forged iron is what will allow your doors and hatches to become vault doors.
ConclusionThe game offers one of the best zombie apocalypse simulations ever (at least for consoles). It has some rough edges that need to be smoothed, so if you're extremely picky, they could potentially and understandably make you feel the game is in some ways broken. My experiences playing this game have been nothing but amazing, whether I have played single player or with friends.
Judging the game based on my personal experience, and the true potential with some technical attention from Telltale Games regarding patches and content updates, I would give it a 9/10. But as a critic, and paying attention to all the small technical issues and overall function and smoothness, while simultaneously putting my personal experiences of joy aside, I would have to give it a 3/10. This low score is mostly due to the horrible online system, rather than the small bugs here-and-there. The game score represented below will be in the middle of both scores of true critic and personal experience.
Many things I easily overlooked, but there are always two sides to a coin, and some people may not find it to be as great of an experience as myself until the game hopefully gets a number of patches in the future. With a $29.99 price tag, it truly feels like a great deal, especially if the game does receive its deserving fixes. Telltale Games has already been at work releasing patches, so it is not a long shot to believe it will be polished significantly over time.
|+ Extremely in-depth crafting system||- Screen lag issues|
|+ Vast explorable world||- Occasionally glitchy zombies|
|+ Completely customizable gameplay settings||- No story|
|+ True zombie survival experience||- No dedicated online servers|