The apocalypse is real.
One time in my apartment I lost power for about an hour. I had a mild panic attack at the thought of going through the night without Netflix, an air-conditioner and freezer full of warm Otter pops. I've always wondered how I'd do in a zombie apocalypse where I had to survive on my wits and instincts alone. I guess 7 Days to Die is kind of like that if the if my power outage lasted way longer than an hour and also there were zombies. Yeah, it's the same.
7 Days to Die starts off easy enough. The tutorial fills you in on the basics of crafting, building a campfire and getting started on a shelter. I broke pieces of wood off a tree by hitting it with my fists and made a club. I took that club and worked over some patches of grass and rocks like they owed me money. Before I knew it, I turned the bits of stone and grass into an ugly-yet-functional stone axe and some clothing that made me look a Walking Dead extra. Awful clothes aside, I gave myself a simple mission. Build a sweet zombie-proof pad and look good while doing it.
A home is where you hang your axe.
First thing's first, I needed to survive the night, then a week and then for as long as I can. At the seven day mark, hordes of undead will march around craving my flesh and I needed to be ready. Armed with an axe and Fred Flintstone club, I was no way near as ready as I thought I would be when I ventured from my makeshift campsite. Thankfully when you die (which will happen a lot) the penalty isn't as bad as in other open-world survival games. When you expire, a small backpack with all your stuff is left where you died. For the first few hours I spent most of my time doing corpse runs after a lone zombie or bear beat the holy hell out of me.
My "sweet zombie-proof pad" was just wooden blocks crudely stacked high enough to keep out any unwanted guests, living or dead. You could get more creative with doors, ramps and traps but placing items with the Xbox One controller stressed me out more than any zombie ever could. Already threes days in, things were not looking well for me and spent most of time getting murdered while trying to navigate the menus.
Recipe for disaster.
You have to find recipes in order to make any of the gear you really want like firearms and armor. Recipes are hard to come by and their locations seem completely random. You don't get as much as you think when you go on a scavenging run. I get it, it's the end of the world so supplies are hard to come by but the rewards for clearing out a supermarket or police station full of zombies nowhere near matches the risk involved.
The world is randomly generated but split into zones like snowy plains, ruined city or rural neighborhood. The same logic works with resources. Some games you’ll spawn smack-dab in the middle of a treasure trove of wood, stone and other valuable materials and in other games you’ll appear in a barren wasteland forcing you to risk life and limb just to build the most basic items. Sometimes it was easier to just quit and re-roll a new scenario than it was trying to stick out in a world that gave you nothing.
7 Days to Die isn’t a good looking game. Textures are muddy and blurry on almost every surface to the point where it looks like they haven't loaded. The poor visuals wouldn’t have bothered me so much if the constant stuttering, inconsistent framerate and super long times kept me from actually enjoying anything about my time with 7 Days to Die. There were times where I completely missed headshots with my bow and arrow because the framerate went bonkers or gotten straight-up murdered because I was attacked trying to equip a weapon. It was times like these where I wished I was playing the PC version for the improved performance.
There's something rotten here.
Engaging the undead in mortal combat is a losing battle and is best avoided at all costs. If you do have to fight, try to sneak up on the undead fool and give them a whack upside the head. if it doesn't kill them, it's a essential a crap shoot. The clunky animations make it hard to tell if you're actually hitting an enemy and when fighting more than one zombie with just a club almost always a death sentence. That's not the only thing that could kill you though, exposure and hunger are pretty important things that could really mess you if you don't bring provisions.
There's a online portion to 7 Days to Die when you can join another person's game and try to survive together. The big problem is that all the progress is saved on the host side meaning if the host leaves, you can kiss all your hard work good-bye. It was nice to band together with like-minded doomsday preppers and devising a game plan for getting through the week.
7 Days to Die is a poor port that doesn't run half as well as it does on the PC. The zombies that roam are nothing to feared. The terrifyingly awful user interface and and scary bad frame-rate will give you nightmares. There's a neat premise that's just buried under a bunch of technical shortcomings that cannibalize the any joy you've manage to bring back from the dead. Alright, I'll stop. Don't buy this game.