7 Days to Die is a PC game. It feels, even on consoles, that it is designed and meant to be played on PC. The game feels ripe for mods and all sorts of community-created expansions, which, would be helpful, if this was the PC. However, because the game is now on consoles, what could have been a playground of community-driven innovation and creativity is now the bare bones that hold together one of the most boring, pointless and altogether discouraging games I have played in a long time.
Let me be clear; this is not a good game. It must be remembered that, when a game is put on physical release, it is 'finished' up to a certain standard. There may be patches or updates, so long as the studio is willing and able to do so, however, that cannot excuse an unfinished game that lacks any sort of polish, whatsoever.
Off the bat, players are introduced to menus and options that don't completely make sense. How long do you want the day to be? What speed should the game move at? Based on trial and error, default settings are best. After my experimentation, it seems that most of the options are only there to add difficulty to a game that is hard enough, due to resistant mechanics (more on that soon). The only option one may consider changing is the speed at which time passes; if the night runs its course at normal game speed, frustration is all but ensured.
I dove in on Split-Screen first, but the game has Single-Player too. If you want to skip to any point in the review, feel free.
Off the bat, I wanted to go in the game with a companion by my side. I knew the basic concepts of survival-crafting-zombies, so, being a Minecraft fan, I was enthused to try, but that quickly subsided. First, the tutorial is unable to be skipped. This is an addition that shows up and takes up screen space every time you begin the game. Secondly, the game's font is borderline illegible, which doubles the pain felt by the tutorials being almost completely useless. "Collect wood" the screen reads without further instruction. I quickly begin punching trees, as Minecraft taught me; thankfully, it works. I punch trees and pick up pebbles and share what I'm doing with my partner sitting alongside me. I love getting ahead in games like this, to reach for a slight edge on whoever I am playing with, but the game offers so little in the realm of instruction, every action had to be shared and every resource communal. Navigation of the inventory interface is so very abysmal, it feels like trying to play soccer with a hockey puck. Will things get where they should be? Sure. Are you going to knock stuff all over the place and it take far longer than it should? Every time, yes.
The other tabs in the menus are just as bad as the inventory, with slow loading times, small font, poor color choices and a hilariously bad map system, each tab on the menu is as unwelcoming to use as the next. Ultimately, I wound up not spending skill points, simply because I didn't want to fight my way through the menus. Further on the skill points; they do not make sense. The descriptions don't explain what your skills now are able to do now, as opposed to what they could do once you use them. It may seem like a minor grievance, but when you spend hours leveling up, spending a collection of skill points is a monumental moment.
After finishing the tutorial, my partner and I found a small plot of land to work with. I enjoy exploration and combat, my partner enjoys base-building, so we split up to pursue our desired objectives. As I explored, my pockets became stuffed with supplies that promised recipes of defense and combat, but the game fails to make clear how to get more materials or even required ones to finish the recipes, so I was left with full, useless pockets. I found an airdrop (the game's way of distributing useful, hard to find objects) but, once you open the box, anything left inside will vanish into thin air once you exit, even if you leave the box to clear up inventory space so that you can take the contents, of said box. That is what happened to me, so after walking all the way to the box, it was completely for naught.
I returned home, crushed after seeing the airdrop I missed out on, as well as the supplies I could have had, shattered. My partner had built a small wooden hut for us to use. I placed a bedroll as we closed the door and prepared for night. The night is insanely long, as in-game hours creep along, you are subjected to every howl and growl the game can muster. After patiently waiting, the zombies came, completely destroying our house in moments. We watched as our door was removed, the floor smashed and our lives only kept together as we ripped out a back wall, running to safety.
The next day was no better. We found a house, got killed. Got our supplies back, boarded up doors, got killed. We stopped on this map before the cursed 7th day, a bad initial flavor left from the game.
I went solo, trying to see if the game made more sense. Thankfully, all of the controls are on the screen in single player (why that isn't the practice in split-screen as well is beyond me) so I was on my way, finding a pre-built house and camping out as best I could. Hours in to the game, I was reading a book. Night had descended upon my house, where I remained inside, not moving whatsoever. Zombies were outside, but because of the game's poor AI, they got stuck on a corner of my house, unable to ascend the porch to get to my door, so I waited. Due of the length of night, I could not go outside, but I had to pass the night to get back to the game, so, I pulled out a book in the real world and read to pass the time, another day, another uneventful encounter with death at my door.
After my boring house-sitting, I went online. I jumped into a game, where the players I met were extremely cautious with a random person in their world, after all, who wouldn't be? I convinced them I was there with their best in mind, then began my venture towards my new partners in the wasteland. After seeing their placing on the map, I knew my trek would be quite an undertaking. I chatted with my new found friends, who thought the game was in Alpha (it isn't) and talked about how they just moved from place to place, grabbing guns and armor; a pointless sounding venture if I ever heard one. I played in that game, finding used car lots and a lot of desert, but in the end, I died multiple times before getting to my fellow survivors.
Split-Screen Pt 2
I didn't think it fair to review the game without getting to the cursed 7th day, so I convinced my partner from the first attempt that this would be better; it wasn't.
We tried to stay still and maintain a base to survive; we ran out of food. We tried being nomadic, to find food; we died continually. The further we ventured into the wasteland from our aforementioned base, the more the game would lag. We continually found gun parts to build things we were unable to find the blueprints for. If I only owned this game, I may have suffered through it to see my efforts come to fruition, but it simply isn't worth fighting the game itself to be able to play.
"If I only owned this game, I may have suffered through... It simply isn't worth fighting the game itself to be allowed to play."
Technically, the game would assault us at every chance. Zombies out-maneuvered us in nearly every instance, randomly popping up behind us with far more hit success than we the living had. Sometimes we would hit a zombie and it would stun them for a considerable amount of time, sometimes the hit wouldn't do much to the foe, with their hands coming down to attack us just the same as if we hadn't done anything. Crafting takes time, which makes sense, but newly crafted items go to the inventory, instead of your bar for use. If you're crafting something, one would imagine it is because you plan to use it, but after crafting, you have to reorganize, meaning that if you are crafting something urgent, such as a weapon, you will probably perish before you get to use it.
The End of Night
As I wander around, leg broken, starving, lagging, growling, I wonder; "Am I the survivor, or am I the zombie?" pushing forward in a dead, boring wasteland that offers no reason to live, would make me the later.
In short, this game is bad. It is broken (or never finished?). It hides what could be creative RPG elements under piles of annoying to navigate, unexplained menus. It keeps the game just out of arms reach, making the player think 'If I just did that differently, I would be fine...' but the reality is, the game is not wanting to be played. It is a poor attempt to dive into the survival-horror space. It is made far better by co-op, but it is still an unfinished, broken, confused piece.
The Co-Op Experience: Exact co-op details for the console version of 7 Days to Die are not known. The PC version supports up to 8 players online. The developer has stated that the consoles will add a "a new multiplayer mode supporting local split-screen for couch play" and "additional online multiplayer modes"
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.