By Adam Smith on behalf of Gaming Australia
7 Days to Die is a game conceived over a Thanksgiving family dinner. Two brothers and a friend come up with a new type of survival game that would include zombies as well as a deep and intricate crafting system that would end up drawing comparisons to Minecraft. It is developed by the Fun Pimps, and after some initial game development on their own, they decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign to bring in some much need funds that would allow them to hire staff to develop the game faster. The campaign raised over half a million dollars and so began the full time journey.
7 Days is self-described as an open world, voxel-based, sandbox game blending the best elements of FPS, Survival Horror, Tower Defence and Role Playing Games. It is in early access, and actually has been since 2013. Technically it is still classes as an alpha, which is basically a long story that I prefer not to get into.
One of the most impressing things about this game is the fact that it is so customisable. You can play solo, with only a few friends, on multiplayer public servers in PVE mode, or PVP mode, depending on what the server admins choose. I personally spent the first 100 or so hours playing just by myself, learning all the intricacies of the game, such as the mechanics, the crafting skill tree and learning about which resources are available in which biomes and points of interest. After finally gaining confidence, my friends and I started joining PvE servers and suddenly found a whole new world had opened up. There just seemed to be no limitations to the imagination with this game, it really is such a sandbox game that we I creations from other players that would I would not have possibly done myself even after 1000 hours of playing. Your own creativity is the only limitation (and of course, the bugs!).
Another interesting element about this game is when you team up with random survivors in the wasteland. There is voice proximity chat, as well as world text chat. Most servers run Discord servers so that you can chat to other players outside of the game, share screenshots of your bases and forts, and keep informed of server maintenance and updates. The slow paced nature of the game also lends to sitting in voice channels on Discord for hours talking about not only the game but also general everyday things. It can easily become a regular hangout. Of course, the game is not without its challenges.
As the name implies, there is a special event that occurs every 7th day, a blood moon horde. On every 7th night, the sky turns dark red, and all of the zombies will attack all of the players fiercely and aggressively. All of the zombies will detect exactly each player is, and make a run for you. Each player will have to ensure that they have enough structural defences and fortifications up to hold them back, whether they be barbed wire fences, steel barriers, electric fences, traps or spikes. If you do die, you can just respawn of course, at your last placed bed, although you will lose your backpack and all its contents, and anything that you carried on your tool belt. You can go back to pick these up but you will have to be quick and ensure you don’t fall along the way there.
Other fun elements of the game include base building and farming. For me it is so therapeutic to spend hours upon hours going around gathering resources, chopping trees, smashing boulders up to then construct buildings exactly as I see fit. Unlike other similar type games, the weight and gravity definitely does take effect, so if you put heavy items on top of lighter ones, don’t be surprised to see your entire building collapse. Apart from going up, you can also go down, and tunnelling and creating underground bases is a skill in itself. Of course, food is always going to be a concern, so apart from picking up slightly toxic berries here and there, you will need to hunt and kill animals for meat, as well as creating your own little farm plots to grow some staples like corn, potato, and blueberries. You will then need to cook your meat in different ways to get better value out of them, such as making bacon and eggs, or vegetable stews. If you’re scavenging away from your main base though, you can always snack on canned food from the various look scattered all over the place. Body temperature is another component that requires substantial management. Certain biomes are hotter than others, such as desert, so you will need to bring along light summer clothing, whereas the colder biomes will want you rugged up in thick coats and jackets.
The graphics in the game are actually quite good, even though it does look a bit dated and blocky at times. The main issue would actually be with the animations looking quite stiff (well, more than quite). Then again, games like Minecraft are still incredibly popular and loved regardless of the graphical fidelity, and this shouldn’t be something that puts you off. This game is truly built around pure gameplay and player agency, which is becoming increasingly rare to find in games these days.
If there is one thing that would be holding this game back is the fact that it has a pretty extensive list of bugs at any given time, and also the time it is taking to develop this game to completion. It has now been about 6 years in early access and the Fun Pimps still have no plans on upgrading the status from Alpha to Beta. Provided you are happy with how the game generally plays now, and are patient, it will not matter to you, although personally it couldn’t hurt if they decided to stop expanding the game and started wrapping up to get a 1.0 official release out. The player count is still very healthy, averaging around 7,000 concurrent players according to Steamcharts.