Seven: Days Long Gone is one of the most ambitious role playing games of 2017. The title blends Assassin’s Creed with the isometric style of Diablo, crafting it’s own unique look and style of gameplay. The premise is intriguing, set in a futuristic cyberpunk world. Stylistically it reminded me of the Shadowrun games (both the 16 bit and the modern interpretations by Catalyst Game Labs).
The initial narrative is told expertly enough to draw players into the gameplay and struggle through it’s steep difficulty curve. It has buggy AI and at times, admittedly can be frustrating, but with perseverance Seven: Days Long Gone reveals itself to be a solid title.
As mentioned, instead of a traditional fantasy setting Seven crafts a dark, moody, dystopian world in which humanity is splintering and civilisation is rotting and falling apart.
After a global war, the casualties too innumerable to count, civilisation became united by a powerful, messianic leader whose teachings brought peace and prosperity to mankind. Years after his death, his legacy long forgotten, poverty and greed have returned with a vengeance. There are those who raid sites of great power, stealing long forgotten technologies and hoarding those vestiges of power for themselves.
You play as Teriel, a master assassin and thief who is travelling to the prison island of Peh. The island is controlled by the powerful, totalitarian Vetrall Empire. As you play through the game you uncover various conspiracies and secrets. Each one brings you closer to the truth about the nature of the world and the elements of the past which have shaped it.
The story is both satisfying and intriguing and never overly complicated. Your character and actions are centrally important to the world and narrative. Exploring uncovers articles of lore yielding even more information about the game environment. The protagonist is likable and dynamic – his dialogue and motivations land him squarely on the grey side of the moral spectrum. I enjoyed his witticisms and retorts, full of bravado when facing oncoming enemies. Teriel remains enjoyable to embody throughout the game’s 10-hour campaign. That’s true of the entire narrative and how it’s presented, it’s extremely compelling and pleasurable to watch unfold.
Seven: Days Long Gone matches its unconventional narrative style with its gameplay and mechanics. The story is mostly told through text based narrative. During your encounters with various NPCs your choice of replies affect the outcome of the conversation. As the game progresses you experience surprising changes and uncover more regarding the nature of your personal past.
I compared this to Diablo in it’s isometric perspective, but this is not a Diablo-clone or even anything akin to a traditional RPG game such as Baldur’s Gate. Most other RPG’s give the player a choice of character class that specialise in specific skills. Seven gives you every single ability available to Teriel from the first scene.
Even with this being the case there is a sense of progression throughout the game. As you begin to master the essential skills of using stealth to strategically murder your enemies or attack them head on in a brutal melee assault you obtain perks which further augment your abilities and open up new movement and combat options.
Most games which describe themselves as stealth are fairly forgiving in allowing players to slip up and instead rely on brute force. Seven will punish you severely if you don’t adopt the best possible tactic while dealing with your enemies. Enemy AI is intelligent and each enemy class presents a difficult encounter if assaulted directly. Strategically considering how to best confront and eliminate them is challenging and exciting when you realise that every misstep you make could end the game prematurely. This is not a game where you will succeed by hitting your mouse button continuously. You’ll only emerge from each confrontation by thoughtfully examining your environment and considering the best action to take from what you have observed.
There’s also an opportunity to fully explore the environment around you; an open-ended freedom to find better opportunities to achieve your objective and to obtain objects of lore to explore the in-game story to its fullest. There are various zones which dictate the style of gameplay. In the public areas, your character can move freely and interact with the NPCs, get a sense of the environment and how to proceed. Private areas are guarded and forbidden to the public and must be crossed using your infiltration skills and stealth.
Things to improve
This game can be particularly punishing. You need to traverse the sections which contain multiple enemies with stealth or you will die – continuously. The auto-save system can be fairly quirky in this regards with the game saving just as you have tripped an alarm, causing a horde of enemies to run towards you – so as you respawn you encounter that almost impossible challenge again. The autosave mechanic should place the player back a few seconds so that they can correct their previous mistake and progress further.
The Score – 75
This is an interesting title, with its unconventional setting and mixture of combat, stealth and open ended exploration. It’s ambitious and worth trying out. The story allows you to connect with the protagonist and portrays the dystopian feeling of a humanity rising from the ashes of conflict, only to collapse again into greed and poverty extremely well. This is not Diablo, but rather something new, thoughtful and challenging. Its a linear game with no branching storylines or overarching decisions. I still found myself engaging with the story and environment, wanting to finish it to experience the overall narrative.