Seven: The Days Long Gone
IMGN.PRO, Fool’s Theory
December 1, 2017
Sidequest was provided with a copy of Seven: The Days Long Gone in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Sometimes a game comes along that just checks every single box on your list for a given genre. Me, personally, I love stealth games. I get why a lot of people don’t, but I love circumventing a fight in a game if at all possible, so any game that gives me the options and the tools to do that in a variety of ways is a game, that’s likely to be near the top of my list. In fact, such a game would have to do a lot of things wrong in order to screw up past that point.
Enter Seven: The Days Long Gone.
Seven is an isometric stealth game, and I will be the first to admit that it looks slick. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic, technocratic future; think Warhammer 40,000 with a dash of Shadowrun. The design is busy, dark, but with flashes of neon; it’s a futuristic slum of a cityscape. It has an advantage over a lot of isometric games in that you can actually rotate the game map; the ability to look at a situation from multiple angles is crucial for a stealth game.
We’re introduced to the main character, Teriel, as he ziplines off of a roof to meet a friend of his; we don’t know much about them save that they’re both thieves, although one works for a guild and one doesn’t. The main character is recruiting his friend for a job stealing a MacGuffin from a mansion; this job becomes your first mission as a player. In the process of this, your friend enters a bar, and you’re left on a balcony, with a question mark icon floating nearby—game speak for an item of interest.
Here’s where the game lost me. Investigating that icon has your player view the entirety of a public execution, wherein a man is strung up in a kind of aerotrim of doom, and his charges read while the crowd screams insults, as crowds are wont to do. The aerotrim is electrified, and as the sentence is pronounced, spins faster and faster, until the man inside is rendered to pulp. Because it’s from an isometric viewpoint, it’s graphic, but cartoonishly so, like blood splashes in Diablo games. Additionally, I’m fairly inured to these sort of dystopian themes by now, so the scene itself didn’t disturb me. What did, though, was that the developers chose to add very distinct jeers and calls from the crowd, complete with speech bubbles.
It was frankly excessive; the scene and the setting had already been sold to me as a player. I got the gist; the situation was clear. Taking these extra steps to make the experience more visceral was not a thing that I needed; I don’t need loving detail lavished upon the execution of a man.
Additionally, to have this sprung on me as a player before the first mission, without even a real warning or an option to skip it, was upsetting. It took me out of wanting to play the game. I understand that the creators feel they have to adhere to their vision for the game, but that vision is not one that caters to me as a player. It’s exactly the sort of edgy branding that’s been used to sell games to teen boys for decades; it’s just done without the usual finesse and skill most titles assume when they do so.
Nonetheless, I continued to play for a bit longer—maybe a half hour or so—interested at least to see what the stealth mechanics were like. They are confusing. You’re dropped into your first mission fairly quickly. Tutorials are light and mostly non-intrusive. A full database of instructions exist, but a tutorial for relevant actions pauses the screen when you’re encountering those for the first time. I found, however, that those tutorials were too few and far between; I ended up fumbling my way through the first few minutes or so of the mission, accidentally fighting guard after guard, because the game doesn’t take the time to teach stealth takedowns or other such maneuvers. They exist, surely, but I have to go rooting through the menu to find them. Because I’m already disinclined to give this game any leeway, I find myself just sighing and wishing for something else to do instead.
The game has an inventory system and level mechanics—again, all things I should love! The equipment system is clunky; when you decide to equip something it takes you back and forth between the inventory window and the equipment window, so that you end up having to go back to the equipment window in order to verify that you have, in fact, equipped the thing you were trying to equip. It’s honestly confusing. There’s no reason for the two screens to be separate. There’s plenty of room for an inventory window to appear directly to the right of the player on that equipment screen, temporarily replacing that stat window, or even next to it. There’s so much room there. It’s a weird, wasteful choice.
I can’t really understate my frustration with Seven as a game. I don’t even feel like I got a proper chance to experience the story. The glorification of violence found in the intro alone ruined the entire experience for me. Everything about it has elements of things that I love—stealth action, RPG mechanics, and cyberpunk aesthetics—but it’s marred by these choices that mark it as clearly Not For Me, and that’s disappointing. No one thing can be for everyone, certainly, but most titles at least try. This one wears its violence and its cruelty on its sleeve, expecting praise. It’s disappointing.
Nola is a bad influence.