Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Pipeline: Mercenary Life Gets Rough In 8Days

A reminder that old-school shooters can be hard!

Posted By on July 26, 2016, 1:05 PM

Drop-down games are always a blast—and when they're shooters, it feels a little extra urgent. Something about these games always takes me back to titles like the original Metal Gear, where you have a clear understanding that your death is going to send you straight back to the start, and all your progress will have meant nothing. They're the kind of games that force you to learn patience and precision. Bad Land Games and Santa Clara Games have teamed up to bring those experiences back in what feels like 32-bit  throwback in 8Days.

click to enlarge This is the worst B&B I've ever attended. Trip Advisor is gonna hear about this. - SANTA CLARA GAMES
  • Santa Clara Games
  • This is the worst B&B I've ever attended. Trip Advisor is gonna hear about this.

The first thing we're going to address is the difficulty, because there's only one setting here: hard. You start the game by picking one of two mercenary characters who work for G.O.D. Inc. (Gold, Oil and Diamonds). You can choose between Mike "Ghost" Doe  or Lola "Wasp" Cruz; I chose Wasp, because if I'm going to be killing everything in sight, I'd like to do it with pink hair. After your helicopter is shot down and you've been tortured for three days, you break free and snag a knife from your captors. You then head door to door, taking out enemies who are better armed than you as you gather guns and ammo like a pack rat.

I spent the first 20 minutes repeatedly getting killed by gunfire before I made it outside, because the controls damn near suck. You're working with a dual-stick setup, which puts you in a very awkward position as you have to move around with the left stick and aim with the right on a drop-down action game. If your aim is even slightly off, you're screwed, especially at the start with only three bars of health.

click to enlarge No, man, that's not me. My name is... Grola. - SANTA CLARA GAMES
  • Santa Clara Games
  • No, man, that's not me. My name is... Grola.

The guns are almost completely ineffective against enemies who are deadshots. It takes a lot of time and practice to get the killing scheme down. You'll be spending a lot of time hearing the "Game Over" music as the game asks you to try again. And don't bother looking for a difficulty setting, because there isn't one. You either get better, or die frequently.

Once you get the hang of the directional and aiming system, the game then ups the ante by hurling more enemies at you, with new weapons that you then have to anticipate. The game isn't completely unfair; you'll find med-kits, food items and even enemy medics to shoot who will drop health items. You'll be able to pick new weapons up that have better range and ammo as you progress, even snatching materials off of the corpses you leave behind.

click to enlarge I don't really have a joke here, I'm just shocked at the bloody entrails. - SANTA CLARA GAMES
  • Santa Clara Games
  • I don't really have a joke here, I'm just shocked at the bloody entrails.

Story-wise, things are kept simplistic but fun. The goal of your first mission is to overthrow a warlord who is controlling all the rice, so you're sent in to "negotiate." You quickly discover that you're not really as grand of a liberator as you think you might be—the warlord is withholding the rice from the major corporations who make bank off it—and your goal is to put the nameless island nation back under your employer's control.  As the name suggests, you have eight days to complete this mission, and after escaping torture three days later, you now only have five days to accomplish it in. Each chapter will take you to a new part of the world where you'll be doing some slimy, underhanded work. But you're a mercenary, so you don't care, as long as the check cleared before you left.

click to enlarge Somehow, this still seems better than working for Clearlink. - SANTA CLARA GAMES
  • Santa Clara Games
  • Somehow, this still seems better than working for Clearlink.

On the side of graphics, this is awesome for what's been made to look like a 32-bit game. 8Days plays and feels like something I would have dropped into my SNES back in the day. But the details with the gore and violence—which I might add, are pretty spot on—are things you'd never see in a Nintendo-approved game. The dirt on the floors and walls, the way you work with lighting to get the drop on people, the way every movement you make has an adverse affect on the people nearby you—everything about this game flows smoothly and looks great. Yeah, there's bloodshed, but even this bloodshed looks accurate.

click to enlarge I think I found the Taco Bell test kitchen. - SANTA CLARA GAMES
  • Santa Clara Games
  • I think I found the Taco Bell test kitchen.

Overall, 8Days has got a lot of flaws in the game-play that build up to being one of the most frustrating experiences I've had this year. I don't consider myself any kind of MLG-pro, but I'm sure as hell not an amateur, and even I found this game nerve-wracking and annoying at every unforgiving death. The graphics and story are cool, but they're just not enough to save it from the difficulty. Average gamers, stay away; it's a recipe for a broken controller. However, if you think you're a badass at everything that's even been thrown at you on Steam, then this should provide that kind of gamer with a new challenge to conquer.

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