Like so many games, Seven: The Days Long Gonesounds like a great idea on paper. Take the action-RPG gameplay of Diablo, give plenty of options for stealth, and add jumping and climbing to the mix for an acrobatic flourish. It just fails to stick the landing.
Seven introduces itself with a lengthy cutscene that describes its world and politics without ever giving you a reason to care. Then it unceremoniously drops you into a brief tutorial which introduces Teriel, the main character. He tries to steal an artifact from a mansion, fails miserably, is captured, and wakes up on an island prison where he is told that, if he wants to be free, he must find something the emperor wants. There are no memorable characters or quests, and most of its time is wasted on dull world-building rather than interesting storytelling.
But most of the design choices in Seven seem to defy common-sense solutions to problems in favor of strange and more convoluted approaches. For example, most games place their fast-travel locations where you might want to go, such as a market or a friendly village. But Seven often places them inside enemy bases or near aggressive enemies, and the map doesn’t make it clear if something might be waiting for you there. So fast traveling can result in unexpected battles.
Seven’s combat is devoid of both depth and variety.
Seven plays a lot like Diablo, if Diablo had no interesting gear, powers, or satisfying enemy kills. Combat is devoid of both depth and variety. Most encounters involve mindlessly clicking on foes, occasionally jumping out of the way of their attacks, and using abilities to counteract their frequent, annoying stun locks. Stealth isn’t much better: Enemy detection seems inconsistent, stealth attacks don’t guarantee a kill, and usually you end up having to fight even when you’re successful. Stealth games generally feature easy-to-predict guard patterns that give you a hint at how to avoid them, but in Seven’s opening missions guards just sprint unpredictably between points.
In a lot of action RPGs, you can count on new gear to change up combat. In Seven, it’s possible to find gear in the first area that’s good enough to last most of the campaign, after a few upgrades. And since the inventory limit is so low, you’re discouraged from even picking up other weapons to experiment with. The highest-tier weapon I found in Seven was a gun, but it didn’t feel satisfying to use. Strangely, despite its high damage number, the low-level swords I found seemed to be dramatically more effective.
Even if you could pick up more gear, most vendors can’t afford to buy a single item of value. That means that it’s best to break them down into crafting parts. Unfortunately, the crafting system isn’t great; most recipes require you to break down some items while keeping others intact, and keeping track of which is which can be frustrating.
Worst of all, Seven is a remarkably buggy game.
The climbing system grants you the liberating ability to navigate around challenging obstacles rather than passing through them. But a movement system is only as good as its map, and the island of Peh disappoints when it comes to climbing opportunities. It’s not always clear what can be climbed, and whether a fall is fatal or not seems arbitrary. The isometric camera angle can make gauging jump distances difficult. Plus, the map is a poorly signposted mess that rarely makes it clear where to go or how to get there.
Seven’s camera isn’t great, either. It tries to ensure you can always see Teriel but frequently fails, making navigation a pain. Other times it succeeds too well, and you might try to climb onto something only to hit your head on an invisible ceiling. I often found myself trying to scramble over something I felt confident I could climb, only to shift the camera and find that it was impossible. Seven also handles darkness poorly; night is often far too dark to see anything outside your immediate vicinity. Vignetting effects from status effects could stand to be toned down as well.