7 Days to Die. It’s quite a menacing name for a game that is basically Minecraft. with a focus on zombies and surviving. Made by The Fun Pimps, it got onto Steam Early Access in Alpha form in December 2013, so it’s had a little time to get its footing and mature somewhat.
The game plays like a nicer looking Minecraft. That is to say, it’s a block based environment where you can pretty much do what you want. The difference between this and Minecraft though, is that this has more of a shift towards the survival and foraging side of things, with you being sneaky and outsmarting zombies, as well as looting any available housing and buildings you can find for extra gubbins.
Survival relies on a number of factors. Four bars in the lower left of the screen show your vitals. Health, food, water and stamina. Health is straightforward, this drops to zero and you’re dead. Food is how hungry you are, if it drops to zero your character will slowly start to lose health. Eating replenishes this, with tinned goods usually being very average and things like meat being a good source of recovery. However, hunting an animal and keeping its freshly dead meat on you will garner extra attention to yourself, so either you have to be extra careful or just cook the meat when you get it.
Water is your thirst, again if it gets to zero your character will slowly start to die of dehydration, so drinking fresh water is the way to recover, found in cupboards or got by bottling still water and sterilising it with a campfire. Your stamina is how far you can run before tiring, but it’s also how much damage your swings will do to an entity such as a zombie or animal, or any blocks you try to break. Having low hunger or low thirst will reduce your stamina significantly, so keeping those up is key to staying healthy. There are some items which can recover this, such as honey from hornets, so having these will allow you to get outta dodge if you’re in a pickle.
Going back to crafting, you start with a basic list of things you can craft upon starting, for things like stone axes and clubs to get you going. But this list can be expanded by finding bookshelves in the environment and finding more recipes, such as creating leather from animal hides, and how to create gunpowder for bullets. Crafting will also sometimes require the use of a furnace, but it’s not as simple as popping in ore and getting bars out, à la Minecraft. Here you need to go out and get the materials to create casts and moulds for parts, and then melt down the ore and shape it.
Much like Minecraft, you can mine stone, chop down trees, and make yourself a nice little shack to keep everything. But in this, zombies can break down walls and come get you, so it’s best to make sure your building is very secure, especially when it comes to night, which I’ll go into later. Another point is that the block building is physics-based, that is to say that objects have to be touching the floor and have to be able to support their own weight, or something drastic might just happen.
So how does it play? I’m purely going to be writing from my own experiences, which was only played in solo, as I was too chicken to play on any public servers for fear of getting griefed and beaten up, and none of my friends were available who had it on Steam.
Again, like Minecraft, when you first play the game you do not have a bloody clue what to do, unless you’ve seen many of the videos that appear on YouTube. Every life basically becomes a learning experience. So my first go of this resulted in me accidentally drinking water from a river, giving myself diarrhoea and attracting everything, and then shortly after dying to zombies and hornets. Second attempt, I managed to last long enough to hit the night, and that’s where things change.
You see, instead of the zombies warbling around like they do in the day, any time they’re out of the light, so either in a building, or at night, they run at you. Fast. And spider zombies go from big lanky things, to a creature that runs around on all fours. When the first one I saw came scuttling towards me, I panicked and threw lots of buckshot at it, courtesy of a shotgun I found, which was very satisfying. After this, I learned my lesson and stayed indoors where it was nice and well lit.
7 Days to Die is still in early access, so there are a few bugs such as the shaders not working correctly and sometimes dead zombie models freaking out and looking like something out of a nightmare. But that also means that it’s constantly being updated with new revisions. One of the biggest things in a recent update was the ability to play with a procedurally generated map, which increases replay-ability significantly, with no two maps being the same, rather than the default map you originally had. Also the User Interface has had an overhaul, making everything clearer and easier to understand.
To sum up, I think 7 Days to Die is looking very promising. I can see with a few friends on board, you could have a base setup with players going off and scavenging supplies for the camp, to then come back and all be watching out for any hordes or zombies creeping in. Or even taking it to Player vs Player in a server, having small camps battle each other and the zombies. When this finally comes off Early Access, I’m sure with the development time they have had that it will be one of those games that eats away at your time and you become obsessed with ruling the zombie infested landscape!