Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
This is one of those survival games that gnawed away at the top seller list in Steam for ages. For a long time, I couldn’t understand it. I watched the videos and scoffed at the raggedy character models, the basic textures, the lumpy landscapes. Another Minecraft clone. Then I was conscripted to actually write about the thing. I soon ended up knee deep in zombies, swinging a bat at their heads, running low on ammo, before eventually escaping from my homely cabin (now in ruins) down the snowy roads. What do you know, I thought, it’s good.
It’s a zombie game, I know. But it does zombies correctly. In the game I played (you can change the difficulty and settings of each world you create) the zombies were the classic shamblers. Romero meatbags. It meant that by the time I got used to the game’s crafting systems and building mechanics, I was often able to ignore the plodding corpses. When I went for a scavenging trip, I simply walked around them, not wanting to waste time, energy or bullets on the creeps.
But I would also get cocky. I wouldn’t build enough traps at night, or I would underestimate the possibility of a swarm. Or I would just assume that I had more bullets in the cupboard, when actually that cupboard had been destroyed, along with its contents, three days ago. It was just like every zombie movie I’ve enjoyed. It understood the biggest rule of zombie fiction – a zombie is never as dangerous as a single human being’s mistake.
7 Days To Die applies just the right amount of pressure on you as a survivor. You build up your supplies, get yourself holed up in a good base, and start to slowly become more confident amid the ruins of the apocalypse. You think: today I’ll gather clay, and tomorrow I’ll go hunting. Then, out of nowhere, the game will fire a horde at you and see how well you can weather the storm. And that’s when you’ll realise that you forgot to plant the mines.