For better or worse – let’s face it, mostly worse – Days Gone has been in the news a lot this year. The PC version is a hit, and players are enjoying getting stuck into some zomb- freaker horde action. Personally, I lost interest in the game pretty quickly. Although I dug Deacon’s tattoos, I wanted a game with more survival elements. It’s pretty clear Days Gone was going in that direction at one point, as evidenced by all the foraging and hunting gameplay, but it was never implemented in a meaningful way. If you feel the same way as I did, then I have the game for you.
7 Days to Die is an early access zombie survival game developed by The Fun Pimps that sets you free in the post-apocalyptic world of Navezgane. However, before you rush out to buy it, I’d advise getting the PC version, as the console version hasn’t been updated in some time due to the closure of Telltale Games, which had the rights to the game’s console ports. The Fun Pimps have reacquired the publishing rights, but still no update has come. Even so, the console version remains a really fun co-op zombie experience, with hordes so large they’d make Days Gone blush.
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Like Days Gone, there’s a diverse selection of biomes in Navezgane, from toxic industrial wastelands to arid deserts, from humid forests to snowy hills. Where you choose to set up camp matters, as there’s a diverse range of survival options on offer, forcing you to manage your hunger, thirst, temperature, and potential diseases at all times. Each biome comes with pros and cons, such as more animals to hunt in the woods, but less space and visibility, and lots of cooling and thirst quenching plants in the desert, but not much game to feed yourself with. In the beginning, you’ll have to scavenge clothes, food, water, and weapons in order to stay alive.
Like any good survival game, there’s a day/night cycle. During the day, zombies are docile and bumbling – they make for easy targets. During the night however, they turn feral and can quickly overwhelm those who aren’t prepared. Every seventh night, a blood moon rises (I see trouble on the way…) and a huge zombie horde will descend on your camp in an attempt to rip you to shreds – hence the game’s title. These hordes get progressively larger and tougher, until you’re inevitably overwhelmed and have to start again.
To help you survive, there’s a fairly comprehensive crafting and building system that will let you build a base from scratch, or fortify a building already in the game. Many players favour the farmhouse, due to its proximity to the resource rich desert and the surrounding woods and towns. It takes some work to clear out the zombies already there, but once you do, you’ll have a solid base that generates its own food supply. The building system is much like Minecraft’s, though not everything has to be a cube or a slab – and the textures are a bit smoother and allow for more 45 degree angles. Unlike Minecraft, structures are affected by gravity and need supports to stay in place. They can also deteriorate over time through wear and tear and damage, so maintenance and upgrading to stronger materials is essential. A wooden wall will keep a zombie at bay for a bit, but a steel wall can keep you safe from a horde until the daybreak.
My friends and I have barely scratched the surface of what the game is capable of. There are A.I. controlled safe zones where you can shop and trade, technology that allows you to make your own ammunition, upgrades, and weapons, and you can even build bases underground or under lakes to try and hide from the zombie threat. If you have the same idea as me and try to spend the night in one of the safe zones though, no luck, you get kicked out as soon as it gets dark – it’s everyone for themselves in the apocalypse.
Since you’ll need to rely on yourself and any co-op buddies you have to survive, you'll be pleased to hear that that’s also a solid RPG system in place. As you play you can earn skill points that can be used to level up certain attributes and gain perks that will help you survive. These range from dealing more damage with certain weapons, to being able to pick locks faster and take less damage from traps. If you’re playing solo, it may be hard to get all the perks you want, but playing with friends means you can assign one builder, one looter, one combat specialist, etc.
Sure, the hordes in Days Gone are pretty big, and they can be pretty overwhelming. But if you want to face true, nightmare-inducing zombie terror, 7 Days to Die is the game for you. Where will you hide when the blood moon comes? Will you cower in the basement of the farmhouse, or will you dig fortified trenches around a disused factory? For a game that’s still in alpha, 7 Days to Die has a lot going for it, and is a far better zombie survival experience than most triple-A offerings out there.
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Issy is an avid film lover, writer, and game-player based in the UK. He combines his love of film and games in his writing, trying to find as many connections between the two mediums as possible. When he’s not writing, playing, or watching, Issy loves to DJ and look after his growing collection of houseplants, as they make him feel more adult. See his more incoherent ramblings on Twitter: @veedztweets
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