By Fabrice Stellaire / January 4th, 2018
|Title||Seven: The Days Long Gone|
|Developer||IMGN.PRO, Fool’s Theory|
|Release Date||December 1,2017|
While isometric RPGs are still alive on PC, very few of them have adopted an open world design. Seven: The Days Long Gone is an original experiment as it tells the story of a thief, Teriel, who has been sent to the penitentiary island of Peh. Mixing stealth, open world, and an isometric environment is unexpected, so how well does this formula work?
In the dystopian universe where Teriel tries to survive, humanity has declined after a long war with demons. One man, however, was able to build an empire. Many tales surround emperor Drugun’s past, and Teriel, having been captured after a failed heist, is forced to work for him. He also finds out a demon, Artanak, is communicating psychically with him. Artanak claims to have once possessed Drugun, but that was a long time ago. The island of Peh is a strange place were misery and wealth coexist, and where several factions try to rule the island. The Biomancers worship Drugun and constantly warn people about the dangers of modern technology, the Techno-mages are the police of the island, and the Consortium is a secret group helping the empire from the shadows. Teriel is going to have to interact with the different groups ruling the island in order to recover a mighty artifact which could influence the fate of mankind.
In order to achieve this goal, Teriel has several possibilities. Of course, since he is a thief, he can use stealth to pickpocket citizens, use his multi-tool to unlock doors, or backstab guards. Direct fighting is also possible with melee or ranged weapons, but fights can be confusing and it is easy to be quickly surrounded by guards, who will overwhelm you. While attempting several tactics to progress I realized some of the AI’s bugs can break suspension of disbelief. The AI of NPCs is terribly flawed. It is not uncommon to see enemies stuck while running against stairs or walls, or walking on roofs. While those kinds of problems sometimes happen in other games, it is the frequency of the problem that breaks immersion. Another issue happened while I used suits to remain unnoticed. I stole a guard suit to remain unnoticed while investigating a place monitored by Biomancers. The guards were able to see through my suit, when they were not supposed to be. During another quest, guards watched me sneaking into a house without saying anything, and it was only when I reloaded the game that they attacked me. In other instances, I found myself stuck inside an arena because the enemies had been teleported out of it, and since the gate of the arena would only open once all enemies were dead, I had to reload the game.
Another problem is that the choice of the isometric view makes moving around and exploring this world uneasy. Even if you rotate the camera, you may not see some places or important elements like doors. It can be very painful to figure how to reach a place and you will often find yourself running into obstacles and spending a lot of time figuring out how to reach an area. Since the game is open world, this can be very frustrating and needlessly extends the length of quests. Another issue is that your inventory is very small. I am used to managing inventories in RPGs, but in this game, you quickly reach your weight limit and that means you have to destroy/recycle a lot of items.
This is a shame because the atmosphere of the game overall is well made and the universe of Seven is credible, as well as its music, which fits a post-apocalyptic universe. I am aware patches are being released to fix a lot of issues, but the amount of problems is rather important and some of the issues mentioned are also related to game design choices. It is hard to have fun doing a side quest when your progression is slowed down by camera related problems. You have a map, but the names of the different places of the island are not even marked on it, which doesn’t help. Isometric view is not a problem in most RPGs, but in Seven, combined with the lack of a clear map, it makes your life harder. There is a fast travel mechanic, but it requires you to hack computers in hostile areas, and once again locating computers can be hard because of the angle of the camera. Despite the several updates made to improve the experience I still have long loading times and random crashes. I also believe that it is harder to make a compelling stealth game in an open world, especially when the view makes it harder for you to figure out if someone is gonna come and spot you while you are killing a guard or stealing something.
A combination of unfitting game design choices and frustrating bugs ruin what could have otherwise been a decent RPG. I beat the game after playing for 60 hours. I could have spent more time playing side quests, but I felt too frustrated with the game to keep playing. Sold for $29.99, Seven should only satisfy hardcore CRPG fans who have the patience to face its bugs and game design issues.
Review copy provided by the publisher
RPGseven: the days long goneSteam