Everything about Seven: Days Long Gone sounds great. And in a number of ways, it is, yet the team at Fool’s Theory find a way to wrench defeat from the clutches of victory, delivering a game that is almost everything it promised yet falling agonisingly short in just about every area.
At its heart, Seven: Days Long Gone looks and feels like a classic isometric RPG, yet it’s actually a real-time action game or a top-down Thief. In fact, Seven is literally a game about being a thief. Teriel is a light-fingered larcenist who swiftly finds himself the emperor’s latest spy on a tip-toeing mission across the prison of Peh to recover an artifact and, in turn, his freedom.
Seven leans more heavily into its Diablo-esque action-RPG elements than it does true role-playing, all despite its attempts at being a stealth game. Combat happens in real-time with plenty of hack and slash action, albeit with stealth takedowns rewarding insta-kills. Aside from sneaking about, the chief difference from Diablo is in the movement abilities, allowing the player to traverse the environment at will, clambering up walls or sliding down zip wires to gain a height advantage.
For all the efforts at stealth, Seven can all too easily turn into a hack n’ slash clickfest wherein all tactics are thrown out of the window once the proverbial crap hits the fan. This happens often as well, with the AI often being extremely unpredictable. Sometimes I could swear I was even being spotted through brick walls, which pretty much killed off my hopes of a proper stealth RPG.
Seven: The Days Long Gone also commits that most heinous of crimes for a stealth game - you can’t move and hide the buddies. It’s absolutely crucial for a stealth game that it feels as if you can manipulate the environment and a situation to your advantage, and in as realistic a manner as possible, and yet overlooking it here is just crazy. It irked me enough in Wolfenstein 2, which isn’t really a proper stealth game no matter how hard it tries, and yet in Seven, it’s a ludicrous oversight. Fortunately, the problem is marginally absolved by a couple of nifty tricks that can be performed using the bodies, including laying traps for investigating guards, or a dissolving acid to remove the bodies. Considering the effort that’s gone into these features, not being able to move the bodies seems like a massive error if you want to be taken seriously as a stealth game.
Forgoing the stealth for a moment then, which is pretty much a non-starter, Seven adopts a fairly traditional RPG structure for the bulk of the game. As Teriel, you’ll be wandering about and picking up quests, chattering to NPCs, scavenging for loot and trying to upgrade your gear. From here you can head off out into its world in whichever manner you see fit, aided by a fast travel system for skipping about the map.
At the risk of laying into Seven too much, there’s just a litany of things that aren’t quite right. Loot something and you’re greeted with the usual ‘Take All’ or take individual items option. Only both options require you to hold a button down until a bar fills up, which seems like a needless obstruction. If a box has several items I wanted, yet I didn’t want everything, I’d have to see there and watch the bar fill up several times other, each lasting a couple of seconds. No one wants to spend 30 seconds looting a crate, and it’s difficult to envisage what benefits there are to this system. It’s these little things to add up to a frustrating game, even if the core setup and idea is fundamentally strong.
Through Seven: The Days Long Gone I found the voice acting and scripting to be a little uninspired. Ordinarily, it would be easy to overlook this if it made up for it amply in other areas, yet it never quite hits the mark. Commandos story was pretty much non-existent, yet at least Pyro had the good grace not to make you click through hundreds of chat windows to get to the point.
Everything about Seven is just a bit of a shame. Fool’s Theory has come so close, and in doing so proven itself the jack-of-all-trades, master of none. A game of this budget lives and dies on having one or two insanely unique or memorable standout features, and yet Seven lacks in this area. With the thousands upon thousands of games now at our fingertips, it’s never been harder for devs to get noticed. None of Seven’s particularly bad, it’s just not especially memorable.