7 Days to Die, The Direction of Zombie Survival Games

Welcome to 7 Days to Die, the zombie survival game that makes you really really hate yourself. Its a punishing game that doesn’t really allow for a whole lot of screwing up, the object of the game is really in the title. You have to survive, hopefully for longer then 7 days but we’ll see because the longest I’ve survived was 5 days before things started to get too out of hand. Your first day starts out relatively peacefully with a few zombies here or there but that’s pretty much about it. It lets you attempt to figure the game out, like how to craft, how to build and what your strategy will be. Note that you will die a lot and have to restart multiple times, hunting is a bitch, mining is a bitch and fighting zombies will lead to infection so you need to find antibiotics. Infection is frustrating as it is can not fix itself unless you die and come back (which will spawn you anywhere on the map) or you can take antibiotics. Infection basically slowly kills you, halves your health and makes you far more susceptible to other sicknesses (like in real life!)

// 7 Days to Die is Property of Fun Pimps Entertainment and is an Early Access Game on Steam //

Can’t even make it the blasted 7 days!!!

                 Now we get to environmental destructibility, you can dig mines (good!) in which you will be followed into and killed in (Boo!) buildings have to be supported by walls and supports (Hey cool!) and zombies will make your initial buildings come crumbling down (God dammit!). So you essentially become a human squirrel, finding a desolate enough place to hunker down and barricade until you can gather enough supplies to build a great fortress. By the way singleplayer in this game is almost impossible, you are far better off with friends so you can better organize and communicate. Also makes gathering supplies so much better because you can have someone watch your back. Did I mention that you’ll eventually be so used to the zombies being around that you’ll hear them out there quietly shuffling and moaning. You’ll only really start to panic when you hear one knocking on your door.

I did this for YOU!!!

So obviously its a difficult game, but as we’ve discussed before you can still make difficult games fun and fair even though they’re difficult. The thing that makes 7 Days to Die a bad game (It’s still in Alpha so that could change) is that even though it has all the elements that makes games like Minecraft fun it doesn’t make it in a fun or interesting new way. It is at some points an excessively punishing game and not that it even means too, at its heart this game has potential to be so much more. A survivalist horror horde mode kind of game is an awesome concept and for obvious reasons has a lot of appeal despite the fact that zombies are an over done trope. And we haven’t even gotten started on the other aspects of play yet. So to start, the game comes with its own recipe book for crafting and you must find other recipes in the world in order to craft other things (Like guns and the like). But one of the major problems with the crafting system is that it requires a lot of resources to do anything, not only do you need three different things in order to craft your first ranged weapon, you also need to craft arrows for it and then you also have to learn how to use it which isn’t as intuitive as it could be.

And each of these other pieces have to be individually crafted and forged

                    One of the big things with 7 Days to Die is that guns really do feel good to shoot, the game was definitely made with firearms in mind; however, you aren’t able to use them until the later parts of each world which is a major problem because the other weapons feel like you are fighting in a nightmare where it feels like you can’t ever hit hard enough or fast enough. Now with that said I realize that this is a game in its alpha testing phase, but it is a early access title and we’ve seen plenty of early access titles on steam have perfectly playable games that are much more intuitive and let the player figure things out on their own (aka Rust, Planetary Annihilation, etc.) it just seems like the developers really need the money so instead of just focusing on the games interactive feel that they instead used graphics from an early 00s game and made the game look passable instead of using place holders and making the gameplay feel good. Now when we talk about intuitive game design the things that I look for are now the same as what other people look for. In a pre-generated environment its already going to be difficult to make sure that your game’s level designs feel fair (seeing as even in games like Rust or Minecraft there still seems to be issues with that) so I won’t jump into that but one of the many problems that even finished games have this and it is slow and clunky game design. When animation forces the fighting that you will be doing into a slow and painful slugfest. When you can move faster then you can swing your weapon there is a design problem, also when enemies (like zombies) have more reach then you do with a club, axe or machete there is a design problem, when you still have to look up the wiki for the game to learn how to craft even though there is a recipe book you have a design problem. Now does this game have redeemable value? Absolutely, and it’s even more fun with groups of friends as you plan and build your base but it needs some serious overhauls on its design if it ever plans on moving out of Early Access and that doesn’t look like that is anytime soon.