7 Days to Die
The Fun Pimps
Unless you’re a gamer who has been living under a rock somewhere, survival games are all the rage right now. I was just perusing the Steam store, and it seems that every other game on there is some sort of survival offering. Underwater or island survival, survival horror, medieval survival, wilderness survival, you name it—the list is quite lengthy.
However, post-apocalyptic settings are by far the most popular ones featured within the survival game genre. Former frontrunner Day Z has lost much of its steam because of bizarre updates, and its derivative gameplay and lackluster graphics make it the current bottom-of-the-survival barrel. H1Z1: Just Survive has likewise made some development blunders and has largely fallen out of contention. Meanwhile, up-and-coming challenger to the zombie-pocalypse throne, Miscreated, is finally getting some much deserved recognition. Its graphics are especially gorgeous as well.
But what do these games all have in common? Well, although they may capture the post-apocalyptic atmosphere to varying degree (especially Miscreated), the zombie portrayed within them just aren’t that much of a threat. Ever since I first saw 28 Days Later, where the “infected” would run around at breakneck speeds in large hordes, I hoped that someone would create a game that would capture the terrifying vibe which that film evoked.
Instead, the aforementioned games feature zombies (or infected) that either shamble around too slowly (or are therefore easy to outmaneuver) or, they’re just not that many of them. They may have small clusters of shamblers near towns and such, but again, they’re just too slow and not much of a real threat.
Indie developer, The Fun Pimps, seem to have realized this. Their post-apocalyptic zombie-fest, 7 Days to Die, has been out now for just over three years. That’s given them plenty of time to tinker with the by now, tired and hackneyed zombie formula, and have actually done a stellar job of offering something new the genre.
Let’s start with 7 Days to Die’s pacing and environs. First, you can select the game’s pre-built, default map, or you can have a randomly generated one. Once you plop down somewhere on a server’s map, you’ll soon notice that wherever you are, you’ll never feel quite safe. Zombies are everywhere—you can be chopping away at a tree one minute, and have a walking cadaver trying to chomp off your ear the very next.
7 Days to Die’s zombies are also a much more diverse bunch, more so than ones featured in other post-apocalyptic games. Yes, there are some lumbering ones, but there are faster ones as well. And if you’re caught outside during the nocturnal hours, normal zombies become much more fleet of foot, and can chase you down, since you have a stamina gauge and they don’t (when was the last time you saw an exhausted zombie?).
There are also rarer species of zombies that are native to whichever type of biome you happen to be within, or that only come out at night. Indeed, some of the scariest moments I’ve had in 7 Days to Die was when I was hiding (actually more like cowering) in some derelict house, and I could hear zombies scurrying around outside. They can also hear any sounds that you make, and smell you as well (especially if you are carrying food), so you have to worry about those factors as well. If they detect you, just as in 28 Days Later, they will immediately make a beeline for you and attempt to claw through anything between the two of you. I’ve had some incredibly horrifying moments when, once I’d been detected, the zombies would begin smashing through a house’s front or back door. From there, I’d retreat further into the house while slamming doors shut behind me, only having to listen to them patrol the interiors of the dwelling in search of me. 7 Days to Die can really deliver some cinematic experiences.
When you finally begin to get some experience under your belt, you can start crafting weapons and armor with which to defend yourself. There are also tons of other crafting recipes to explore as well. 7 Days to Die probably has the most fleshed out (couldn’t resist) crafting system of any survival game that I’ve had the pleasure (or misfortune) of playing.
What also makes 7 Days to Die stand out from the crowd is its building system. You can either build up a base from scratch, or you can occupy a pre-existing structure such as a house, store, or even a jail, and build upon its foundation. Just be warned that building a base from the ground up can be quite a daunting task, since zombies will probably overrun you during the nighttime hours.
7 Days to Die’s graphics have been much maligned in the past, but since the developers are constantly updating the game, they’re getting better and better. I’m assuming that since they’re not as shiny and polished as say, Miscreated’s, they’re able to render more zombies on screen at any one time. I think that this is great, since its more about the game’s content as opposed to fancy-fied graphics. I’ll gladly trade in pretty visuals in for legions of zombies running after me and scaring the bejesus out of me in the process.
7 Days to Die is pretty hard if you try to play it solo—the zombies will literally run right over you. But that’s really not how the game was intended to be played. Experiencing 7 Days to Die with others is where the game truly begins to shine. Personally, I find that playing with a single friend is not only reviting and immersive, since you’re constantly having to protect each other’s backs, but simply a blast because you can recount many of the horrific experiences together. It’s the perfect game to show off to others on a powerful gaming laptop.
In all, 7 Days to Die is probably the best example of how to do a post-apocalyptic zombie game right. It’s highly involved and diverse crafting and building systems, fun combat, constant tension, and unlimited replayability (I love randomly generated maps!) makes it my go-to fix for scares and chills. Just remember to turn out the lights and play it with a good set of headphones—that really turns things up a few notches.
7 Days to Die offers some pretty good visuals that suit its zombie-pocalypse theme. However, you have to have an equally fast gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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