By Josh Di Falco 16.02.2017
In a world that is controlled by the mercenary group G.O.D, the company enlists their mercenaries to keep the peace across the globe, while ensuring that the people are fed biased news. This is their way of keeping control over the masses, and it is this world that 8DAYS takes place. Take control of two mercenaries, "Wasp" and "Ghost," as they get entangled into a web of lies and deceit in the corporation they work for. This is a pure action title from a top-down perspective that also mirrors the style of a twin-stick shooter, while also containing a fair bit of exploration in semi-large play areas.
The pixelated introduction that 8DAYS opens up with creates a bit of nostalgia, with its resemblance to the games from the early 90s. However, whatever mixed feelings were there had quickly dissipated as the player-selected and controlled mercenary had to escape from a prison. Without any weapons except for a knife found in their room, the mercenary has to stealthily kill the guards in a meticulous manner in order to escape with minimal damage, and a weapon full of rounds. Or, should the circumstance call for it, the merc can go all guns blazing and drive bullets through every single guard encountered.
The flexibility of being able to complete the five chapters in a set of different ways and strategies is one of the greatest strengths that 8DAYS has. Unfortunately, the strength isn't that great considering that most of the time, shooting anything that moves seems to be the only real strategy that works, with the only changing variable being the weapons that are used. While stealth can work in some cases, such as avoiding security sensors, these moments are few but is generally the most thrilling.
The twin-stick shooting gameplay is finicky, quick and too precise for its own good. The left stick controls the character movement, while the right stick controls the aiming, while the right trigger fires the weapon or stabs the knife. However, the game plays at such a high speed, that managing to successfully aim the weapon at a moving enemy and actually hitting them with bullets takes such precision that it is worth the effort to just melee kill them for efficiencies sake. However, this rarely goes both ways as oncoming projectiles always seem to have a habit of hitting the mercenary, as quick reflexes are almost no match for the AI-controlled enemies.
To make matters worse, bullets for the various weapons are so sparse that the majority of the chapters just need to be played with a melee weapon, if only to save up the precious ammo for the end-of-chapter boss fights. Coupling this in with the rare health drops to re-heal the three-hit life bar, and 8DAYS is an overwhelmingly frustrating experience that rarely rewards for determination, grit, and perseverance. In fact, the only reward for passing through these hard-fought moments is to generally leap into an even harder situation that can really cause such pain.
It's obvious by the midway point of the game that 8DAYS is not a single-player game. Though it's an option, the jump-in, jump-out ability for a second player makes the game easier. Whether it's to distract the big bosses from one of the mercenaries, or just because trying to surpass such expectations in single player is nearly damn impossible, it's a wonder why the single-player experience didn't scale down the cheap deaths and the unfair advantages of the AI. This would have helped in saving the controller from being thrown repeatedly after consecutive cheap deaths.
The sorrowful part about this game is that the locations and environments are actually a wonder to explore, with plenty of hidden Easter Eggs and secret rooms. Replaying earlier chapters and exploring the world to find hidden rooms is really fun and rewarding, and it is a shame that this couldn't have taken further priority over the bullet-infused, blood-spattering action that rarely feels fun or satisfying. As such, this missed opportunity leaves a lot to be desired, as all the flaws took centre stage with this experience.
8DAYS tries to replicate the thrill and aggressive nature of a twin-stick shooter and apply it to a mercenary gunning down enemies, but forgets about the part where an endless supply of ammo would've been useful. Having to rely on using stealth to traverse the chapters out of fear of wasting ammo kind of defeats the purpose of calling it a "shooter." While the cheap enemies and finite supply of health packs mixed with the extremely reflexive gameplay further dampens the product, 8DAYS leaves a lot to be desired, as it is a constant reminder of what could've been a really fun game.