8DAYS (PlayStation 4) Review

By Sam Turner 12.04.2017

Review for 8DAYS on PlayStation 4

From the pixel shaded jungles of the orient to the dream scape sequence of the afterlife, 8DAYS doesn't so much take a running jump at the twin stick shooter genre, but rather straps a bunch of fireworks to a box of cats and holds on for dear life. The Spanish duo at Santa Clara Games has drawn from plenty of influences for their sophomore release, and what could have been mistaken as a simple cut and paste job of recognisable titles just about makes it a unique experience.

With pixel art spewing out of its ears, it's no surprise that on first viewing 8DAYS is a game that, for some, will bare a similar artistic and mechanical resemblance to the incomparable Hotline Miami. Even beyond the most fleeting of glances, déjà vu will be hitting the player across the face as they throw around bullets in the dance-like style that so typified the Hotline experience.

There is a loose narrative draped over the game, but it often takes a back seat in favour of intricate level design. With an opening that leaves the player left for dead in a non-descript prison, the first few minutes are spent clearing out rooms and intricately planning an exit strategy as you negotiate your way out of the jail. So far, so familiar, but soon enough you'll be amongst the wide open paddy fields and villages of whatever land you're crashed in on. Gone are the tight corridors that helped structure your earlier experience from a dance to a choreographed performance. In the wide expanse of the title's environments, 8DAYS becomes a game of ever-morphing genres and styles.

Screenshot for 8DAYS on PlayStation 4

It makes sense that with an elegant palette the game has a control scheme to match. Nothing is too overblown or complicated. Two analogue sticks dictate aim and movement, and one button shoots. The direction is simple and the directive never changes beyond pointing the cross hairs at a bad guy and avoiding the bullets they send back. Combat flows back and forth and players will be dodging elegantly across the level as much as they are pulling the trigger. It's a bullet hell shooter rooted straight to the ground. 8DAYS also has an astounding soundtrack that pulls players between the moments of tension to high octane action.

This all seems intriguing in principle. However, the reality of combining the run and gun precision of a twin stick shooter to the spray and pray thrill of a bullet hell experience means that the early stages of the game are marred by a severe imbalance between genres. Guns are slow to fire or limited by ammo, and even though enemies are burdened with the same equipment, the fact you both dance graciously between the volleys of fire means that actually being accurate forces you to stand still, opening you up to damage and death.

Screenshot for 8DAYS on PlayStation 4

Death mars the opening hours of the game. It comes too swiftly and cheaply. Because the arsenal is so limited from the beginning, being so underpowered makes a mockery of the bullet hell fire and dodge mechanic the game attempts to embrace. The game hints that levels can be completed with stealth, but this approach only saps all pace from an introduction that should have been a baptism of glorious fire.

Equally, though, where 8DAYS wilts under its inability to strike a right balance, it beautifully blooms as it never lets the player rest on their laurels. Just when you think that you know where the game will go next, it constantly zigs when you expect it to zag.

Screenshot for 8DAYS on PlayStation 4

Levels bend from cityscapes scarred with war to warehouse battles filled with murderous robots. The early hints at stealth come to the fore with cameras appearing that can detect player movement. There's even one stage where the ghostly aspirations are lead around an Undertale style text adventure.

There are so many hidden delights in amongst the problems within 8DAYS. The teetering seesaw of genres is a thrill to play, but is a perfect metaphor to use for a game with so many ups and downs and undulating pace. To mitigate some of this, players are welcome to bring in a partner to help them through the imbalance. Co-operative play does shed some new light on the game and there is a lot of joy to share when playing through the game together. However, just as two-player play can highlight the fun in the game, it can also accentuate the fact that often death comes cheaply against enemies who feel overpowered.

Screenshot for 8DAYS on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

It's fair to say that often the game bites off more that it can chew. The more tenacious players will get the most from 8DAYS. Those who are willing to embrace dips in pacing, balance and fairness will see equal spikes in design, direction and gameplay. Those who rely on a sturdy narrative or a strict structure to provide their gaming enjoyment will be put off by the varying styles and direction. It is a worthy effort, but only to be enjoyed by a select few.

Developer

Santa Clara Games

Publisher

BadLand Games

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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