How long would you survive in a zombie-infested post-apocalyptic wasteland, armed only with your wits and whatever you can scavenge? That's the question posed by survival horror game 7 Days to Die, and answering it is where the fun of playing it lies. The game combines open-world RPG elements, complex crafting and first-person shooter combat to create a compelling zombie apocalypse experience.
Scavenge and survive
Online multiplayer games can see survivors working together to survive or competing for scarce resources. The most important mechanics in 7 Days to Survive are the destructible environment and the day-night cycle. During the day, zombies are sluggish and passive. Although they can still be dangerous if provoked -- for instance, if you take meat or other things that smell like food too close to them -- a cautious and well-armed survivor should be able to cope. At night, however, they become faster, stronger and more aggressive. You'll need a safe place to stay, which is where the destructible environment comes in.
The game's crafting system allows you to chop down trees, mine for minerals, break structures down for parts and use everything you produce to build and reinforce a safe home for yourself and your allies. Traps, spikes, ditches and barricades will all help keep the zombie horde out until the sun rises and it's time to go scavenging again.
How long will you last?
There is a preset location in 7 Days to Die -- a small town in the southwestern United States -- but you may find that playing in the same setting over and over again gets repetitive. Alternatively, you can create a randomly-generated setting to explore. The landscape is littered with resources, and successful strategies will combine crafting and scavenging. For instance, some of the water in the game isn't safe to drink until it's boiled. For that, you'll need a cooking pot. That might mean scavenging up enough scrap to get the iron to make one, or it might just mean finding one on the stove in an abandoned house.
Thinking creatively and curiously about scavenging will help get the parts you need, although as with any game it's imperfect. Kill a zombified police officer and you might find some ammunition; take down a lumberjack and you might get a warm flannel shirt. Once you've got the basics together, you can start fulfilling quests and improving your character's skills.
Survival is tough in this game, and there is a learning curve, although good online resources will help take some of the mystery out of the crafting and health systems. Expect to die a few times, especially early on in the game; creating a safe place to respawn in should be an early priority.
7 Days to Die isn't the guns-blazing action type of zombie apocalypse game, but if you like the idea of crafting, managing your inventory and making sure you don't die of thirst while zombie hordes prowl around your ramshackle hideout, it can be a challenging and fun experience.