Gold, Oil, Diamonds… and Death.
G.O.D. That is your private military company provider. You? A mercenary making money. Nestled in a world suffering from constant strife, G.O.D. not only sends the help, G.O.D. also reaps the rewards. As the player of a retro-style twin stick shooter, what more can you ask for?
8Days tells the tale of one of two characters taking on missions for a mother organization (G.O.D.) in order to solve the problems of the world and make a little money. As you begin the game, you’re given the choice of playing as Mike “Ghost” Doe or Lola “Wasp” Cruz. I chose to roll with the pink-haired Lola, a badass 24-year-old who knows how to pack a punch. From the character selection, you quickly begin sorting out the rice war; unfortunately, the opening of the mission doesn’t end well for you, and you’re captured.
Here, the player takes over. Once you awaken from the depths of unconsciousness, you’ll be able to free yourself from your torture chamber, grab a knife and, eventually, a firearm, and blast your way out of your prison. Your objective for this first mission is to eliminate two bosses and free up the restrictions on the world’s rice. With your trusty weapons in tow, you can begin your assault on the Rambo-esque scenery.
The very first aspect of 8Days that I noticed almost immediately was its intense difficulty level. Before I explain what I mean, I want to clarify that I tried the game with an Xbox 360 controller, a Steam controller, and the classic mouse and keyboard combination. For a twin stick shooter, I prefer the 360 controller, though the mouse and keyboard, forgiving certain aiming issues, worked well enough. I would highly suggest returning your Steam controller (though it does work well for the occasional game, namely RPGs). Anyway, controller aside – 8Days is one of the most easy and difficult games I’ve played in a long time.
What do I mean by easy and difficult? Each mission in 8Days consists of multiple maps. As you progress through each map, your progress is automatically saved. If you happen to meet your demise on any given map, you’ll respawn at the beginning of that segment. The game’s difficulty is at a level where, with one-to-three attacks, you can die. If a knife wielder stabbed you, you would die with one attack. Bullets require two-to-three shots to kill you, while a rocket launcher just needs to blow up near you to end your life. The easy part comes in like this: enemy locations don’t particularly change, so if you can remember the ins and outs of a map segment, you should be able to dispatch enemies within a few attempts. Even bosses have certain patterns that can be learned and overcome, so the intense difficulty (you really do die a lot) is contained a little bit.
After the intensity of 8Days’s difficulty level, players will indubitably notice the retro-style pixelated aesthetics. 8Days has the visuals of Hotline Miami but keeps a style of its own; it’s both retro and crisp visually while borrowing from the classic difficulty levels of games of old. On the whole, I enjoyed the creativity of the visuals, but there were numerous occasions where the pixelated graphics actually hindered my gameplay. For example, it’s sometimes difficult to see items or weapons lying about because it blends in with the rest of the map’s inhabitants. Characters often disappear behind trees or in caves, which, to me, seems to defeat the purpose of the game. Still, visuals and difficulty aside, completing each section of each stage felt wonderful in the end.
Sound within 8Days was actually fairly memorable to me. Video game soundtracks usually fall into one of two categories for me; one: forgettable; two: incredible. If there is a middle ground in soundtracks, that’s probably a negative, as it isn’t exactly memorable. 8Days, however, falls in to this middle ground. I can safely say that there were a number of tunes that I got down with, but I can’t particularly remember the nuances of each track. Outside of the soundtrack, the in-game effects for weapons firing and others was pretty good, especially when you consider how the game was designed to look, feel, and even sound retro.
8Days doesn’t have a ton of content, but the strenuous difficulty will keep you busy for hours. If you so desire, you can also run two play throughs, one as each character. For $12.99 on Steam, 8Days feels overpriced, though it is a fairly average price point for games of its genre. Reviewing 8Days was a tricky endeavor, as the difficulty was far beyond what I imagined; however, I am a fan of twin stick shooters and performed, I believe, above average. Would I recommend 8Days to a casual gamer? Absolutely not. Would I recommend 8Days to a good friend of mine? Perhaps – especially if they enjoy difficult games.
In conclusion, 8Days is a retro-style twin stick shooter that focuses on building a tough experience in a new setting. Pixelated visuals and a retro soundtrack help transport the player back into the nostalgic days of yore. The gameplay is highly enjoyable, even accounting the exponential amount of deaths I experienced in the first mission alone (and I found the second mission to be much more difficult). For $12.99, you may be able to find more content elsewhere, though if you’re glutton for punishment, this is approximately the going price for similar listings. Should you be well versed with a keyboard and mouse or Xbox 360 controller, you should be able to roll through this hell of a game.