8Days Review

Posted February 14, 2017 by Josh Brant in Video Games

Developer: Santa Clara Games

Publisher: BadLand Games

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC

Difficult games, for the sake of just being difficult, are a hard sell this day and age. When a game makes you rage quit it’s usually from the game being unfair. Santa Clara Games, a Spanish studio which made the cult hit Hassleheart, have managed to harness the extreme difficulty experienced in 8Days to a respectable degree in that when you fail it’s not because of the game cheating you, but usually of your own doing and this is especially hard to accomplish in twin-stick shooters. 8Days is far from perfect, but for some reason you will want to come back again and again.

Pixelated Rambo

8Days puts you in the roles of a pair of mercenaries, Lola “Wasp” Cruz and Mike “Ghost” Doe, one Mexican and the other Australian, who belong to a group called G.O.D. (Gold, Oil, and Diamonds), the best Private Military sector in the world. Therefore, when there is a threat to global peace, it is normal for them to be called in to intervene, even if some of these threats seem like a bit of a joke. Sorry, but it’s hard to take a task seriously when it revolves around the world’s rich have run out of sushi to eat and you need break the ban on rice exports!

Whether it be by single-player or couch co-op, there will be explosions galore as players traverse a wide variety of locales, including military prisons, desolate villages, dark caverns, and high-tech military facilities. Sometimes the experiences require maximum carnage, full of explosions and bullet-hell bliss. At other times, on the contrary, you need to sneak and avoid detection, providing a nice change of pace from the over-the-top bloodfest 8Days can become. Luckily, the 8-bit aesthetic conceals the absolutely brutal violence and inhumane torture tactics you witness smoothing out some of the edginess.

The chip tone  soundtrack’s 28 tracks aptly set the mood for each location and are conveniently interrupted by “danger” music when you’re engaging with enemies, which comes in handy if they happen to be just out of sight off-screen or hiding among groups of civilians.

Take Back Control

Movement is as fluid and smooth in the game as its textures. Its twin-stick mechanics offer a diverse range of movement, which is necessary for the fast paced and multidirectional shooting, although not as tight as some of the offerings from Housemarque Games. The controls may feel alien at first for those who have never played a twin-stick shooter before, but it doesn’t take long to get into the groove and carve out the opposition. 

Weaponry is varied, and in the initial stages you will mostly encounter rifles, shotguns, and SMGs.  You will also see many melee weapons and as you get further along rocket launchers, silenced pistols, flamethrowers, and EMP bombs become available.  Sometimes destroying certain types of boxes/crates produce ammo, otherwise you will be scavenging from your enemies. In regards to reloading, most games sacrifice realism for convenience–but not 8Days. Instead of topping off the bullets in a magazine, reloading in means tossing aside your current magazine for a fresh one, losing whatever rounds are in the discarded magazine. This takes a little getting used to and forces you to play more conservatively when you’re not loaded with ammo.

At certain points through a Chapter you will encounter a boss, which breaks up the methodical think-before-you-leap gameplay and works in a traditional twin-stick shooter type of fight. Unfortunately, the twitchy/imprecise shooting capabilities and ease at which you can die are a big problem during the Contra-esque boss battles, many of which require pin-point aim, impossibly precise movement, and a ton of ammo.

While the difficulty is hit or miss in regards to control methods, health is also in seriously short supply, with additional packs scarce to say the least. You initially start with just three bars keeping you alive, with every hit from an enemy taking your life force down a notch. With so much going on and the chaos of bullets flying everywhere, dodging them all isn’t an option. Also, the checkpoint system is severely inconsistent. With much of the game running as a scroller, the only time you find a respawn point is when you head through a door and enter another area. This could be just 30 seconds away or it may be spread out over the course of a lengthier amount of time, hopefully the latter.

Bring The Carnage

Considering the game can be very challenging, the amount of playtime will vary between players.  Each Chapter usually takes about an hour, and you will die a lot on the way, having to retry many times over again.  When done with a Chapter, you’re treated with a little resolution to the problem you solved and then go right into the next scenario.  Chapters are able to be replayed if you so desire, but will only fully unlock in the menu when you finish the level. If you are in the middle of the stage and start a new game you will lose all progress and start from the very beginning again.

8Days is a retro gamers delight, but unfortunately with its faults and all. Its uncanny/savage violence and tough-as-nails gameplay will be a delight for any pixel junky. However, like many tried and true retro games, the controls can be a bit unreliable and lead to some unsavory deaths. If you’re in the mood for a side-scrolling shoot em’ up, 8Days will scratch that itch, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

About the Author

Josh Brant

I love God, my family, friends, sports, and the greatest hobby of all: video games! You can reach me on twitter @minusthebrant.