A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 7 Days to Die is a sandbox adventure game with an emphasis on survival horror. What that means is you're set loose in a giant world -- sometimes randomly generated -- and have to find supplies, build shelter, and also defend yourself to live as long as you can before you die either of natural causes or a predator attack. In this case, predators come in the form of the elements, animals, and zombies. The game is a challenge to adapt to, especially thanks to the clunky nature of the many user menus that you have to wander through, often in the middle of danger. Violence and gore are constantly shown, which could trouble some players who don't have a strong stomach, although the cartoonish nature of how far and often body parts fly lightens the mood slightly. Parents should be aware that since this also has a heavy online component to gameplay, gamers can be exposed to a wide variety of unmoderated content.
- Parents say
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What's it about?
7 DAYS TO DIE is a sandbox game where you craft your own story and anecdotes based on what the world throws at you. This all takes place in the name of survival in an abandoned wilderness where zombies and predators run rampant. You have to build shelter, scavenge for food and water, and, above all else, stay alive. To aid in doing so, you will need to gather materials, build tools, and not call too much attention yourself, because that will attract creatures -- alive and undead -- that would gladly make you their next meal.
Is it any good?
This survival and exploration game tries to improve upon the sandbox formula but only rests on what has already worked before, with interesting but not necessarily groundbreaking results. For one, 7 Days to Die makes a lot of assumptions about who you are if you're playing it: Even basic tasks such as upgrading building materials you've already constructed is unclear, and your'e never given clear instruction on how to perform them (for example, you press the left trigger instead of the right). There are so many menus thrown at you and that are hard to navigate, and it's difficult to discern what you should be paying attention to; it's also difficult to discern when and what to call up based on different survival situations, such as you're bleeding out or starting to get dehydrated (all of which is made that much harder to do on a console). All of this means there's a heavy investment of time required from the player, although fortunately online multiplayer means you won't have to be completely alone in the wilderness if you don't want to. But online, there are problems as well. Even when you're just hosting a game for others to join and being there by yourself, the game will reliably lag or stutter unpredictably. This is unfair to count as a deterrent against checking the game out, but it's another built-in frustration you'll need to be attuned to navigating and anticipating.
These complaints aside, there's still something captivating and enticing about a game that doesn't hold your hand and sets you out in the wilderness and defies you to survive. True to its survival/horror roots in The Walking Dead, this game rewards cautious survival instead of guns-blazing action. There are elements of survival here that skew closer to reality -- aside from the zombies -- which means it's an interesting simulation of what might happen were you really roughing it. And that also means there's greater strength in numbers, meaning that when you're on a server with other people -- and you're able to find each other -- bigger things are possible, such as food runs and supply runs. Otherwise, by yourself, you can feel incredibly vulnerable, because 7 Days to Die usually will do you in and kill you by the end of your second day, if you're lucky. This game is hard and clunky, but if you come in with an open mind, you'll be able to have some fun in fits and starts.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what life was like before cities and towns and even tribes were established. How did people survive?
If electrical grids stopped working and civilized life as we knew it ceased to be, what would be the scariest and hardest thing to adapt to doing? How do you think people who didn't know of a life any other way felt?
- Platforms: Linux, Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $24.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Release date: June 28, 2016
- Genre: Survival Horror
- Topics: Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence
- Last updated: March 8, 2019
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