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Seven: The Days Long Gone

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: IMGN.PRO
Developer: Fool's Theory
Release Date: Dec. 1, 2017


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PC Preview - 'Seven: The Days Long Gone'

by Thomas Wilde on July 7, 2017 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Seven is a Thief-inspired, 3D isometric RPG in which players will get a chance to freely explore the sandbox world of Vetrall Empire.

We've no shortage of games that are set in the post-apocalypse, but Seven: The Days Long Gone is the first I've run into for some time where it's post-post-apocalypse, where the events that ended the previous world have had the time to fade away and turn into legends. The survivors of the old world who had the option have fled "to the stars," and the current world is descended from those who were left behind, led by the Emperor Drugan, a near-mythical figure who promises he'll bring his followers to greatness. The "Seven" of the title refers to the steps Drugan took to reach his current stage of enlightenment, and there are reportedly more steps to come.

Not that you'd know. At the beginning of Seven, you're a thief named Teriel, pulling in an old buddy to do a theoretically simple job: steal an artifact from a noble's estate. Simple jobs never are, however, and you get a one-two punch at the end of this one. You're tried and convicted while you're unconscious, and you wake up as an exile on the prison island of Peh, without anything to your name besides fetching orange coveralls; worse, the artifact you stole managed to jam a demon named Artanak inside your head, and he's got some things he'd like your help with.

Seven was at E3, but it was well hidden. Its developers were showing it off in a rented apartment, several blocks away from the Staples Center, on a laptop that wasn't quite up to the task. The whole thing ended up having a sort of garage-developer sensibility that I liked, as even they didn't quite seem aware of everything the game was set up to do; the game was a genuine vertical slice, rather than an extensively curated guided tour, and it managed to surprise the developers a couple of times.

Seven is an isometric, top-down action-RPG that offers you fully manipulable choices and approaches, like a dungeon crawler where the "dungeon" is an entire far-future, cyberpunk-meets-magic (spellpunk? Is that a thing?) city. Like half of everything else I saw at this year's E3, this game has a lot of talent from the Witcher series working on it, including at least one scriptwriter. You're plunked down in the most easily accessible part of a massive post-post-apocalyptic steampunk city, covered in mutants, monsters, mechs, and normal people just trying to get by, and it's up to you to figure out what to do, when to do it, and how you'll go about doing it.

The idea from the start, as was repeated to me several times, is that you're a thief, so you're encouraged to approach situations as a thief would. You can sneak by enemies, steal their possessions to make fights easier on yourself, use dirty tricks that are both mundane and magical (such as creating small bubbles of slow time), or assassinate guards from behind. You can just about handle a one-on-one duel with a single enemy, and you have a lot of choice as to what weapons you can use, but trying to fight more than one opponent at once will kill you in short order. If you're going to fight your way through Seven, it's a good idea to stack the deck in your favor before a combat encounter ever starts.

On Peh, you can take or leave contracts and jobs as you see fit. The primary concern as you move around the city is securing visas, which are biochemical markers that indicate your legal ability to remain within certain areas. Getting caught without the right visa in a neighborhood gets you carried out the first time; the second time, the guards open fire. However, since you're a thief, you have numerous ways to get around this, whether it's by sneaking past the guards and never getting caught, stealing a visa, earning enough money to purchase a visa, or winning the fight with the guards, though that last one's a dubious proposition.

What really caught my eye during the demo, however, was the game's sense of verticality. In both Peh and the opening level, Seven is set up to allow you to climb and descend more or less at will, whenever you see something that can be climbed. You can go up to rooftops or drop down to lower levels of the city, which allows you to scout out areas from higher ground or circumvent a guard patrol by hopping onto a rooftop. It's a fair re-creation of the same vertical depth that you see in games such as Dishonored, where if you see a distant area, you'll probably be able to get there.

The final game will have a number of additional systems, such as armor that changes your character's appearance when equipped; the ability to customize Teriel's name and appearance; a crafting system for potions, weapons, and dirty tricks; the ability to specialize in magic or ranged combat; and a city where you can, if you choose, assassinate virtually every character in it, who will then proceed to stay dead.

Right now, the official word on Seven: The Days Long Gone is that it'll be done "when it's done," Blizzard-style. There's no time frame for its release, and it's a bit of a passion project by all of the developers involved, so I don't doubt that they'll be taking their time. If you enjoy story-focused, open-ended isometric RPGs, however, this is the first one in a while and it's doing its best to move that intensely specific genre forward.

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