Review by Brad L.
All of the cool kids these days are making some form of pixelated game intended as a throwback to the glory days of the 80’s. More often than not, the difficulty spike of the 80’s rears its ugly head as well. 8Days is no exception, and the game also harkens back to the days of old school Rambo movies as well. I’m not even sure if people still find these games entertaining, as it has become a tad like flogging a dead horse at this point, but 8Days does have some merits, even if it doesn’t offer anything particularly unique.
8Days begins with Lola Cruz and Mike Doe on a mission to end a rice embargo. Of course, a politically charged mission such as this means that the protagonists must destroy everyone and everything in sight. This is much easier said than done, as 8Days has an incredibly punishing difficulty curve. I managed to get past the first room with ease, but three minutes into the game and I was watching poor Mike and Lola die over and over again.
The action is non-stop, and at the same time, I felt like approaching it like the original Metal Gear Solid, slow and steady, helped more often than not. Lola and Mike only have limited health, so they must constantly remain vigilant. The ability to regain health is almost non-existent, and despite being constantly aware of their surroundings, the enemies constantly come thick and fast. It’s almost impossible, but not so impossible that it made me too disheartened to continue.
The amount of ammunition to pick up is pretty scarce too. Weapon drops from enemies do not offer a lot. Oftentimes Lola and Mike will run out of ammunition, and will then be left with nothing but a machete to their name. This makes it very difficult to take on foes if they know the heroes are about. As the old wisdom goes; never take a knife into a gun fight, it always ends up being a bad time. I did find that I became more and more vigilant with each death, and I kept getting better and better as time went on and I learned enemy patterns and how much ammo I should use, which enemies I could slip past without fighting at all, and any other way I could think of to preserve my precious ammunition.
What makes it even harder is the feeling that the game makes the player think that everyone needs to be annihilated to continue. And this stands true for the most part, very rarely is there an opportunity to sneak past anybody, but when the opportunity arises, I suggest that it needs to be taken to preserve all the health and ammunition possible just to get through each stage.
Other parts of the game throw boss battles at Lola and Mike. This is a situation where the game basically tells you how to win, by showing glowing sections of the bosses, but then makes it an incredibly difficult task to actually hit those sections. I couldn’t help but get frustrated trying to take them down, especially when I knew the pattern to the boss. However, the game was designed in a way where I didn’t think it cheated me out of a win, it was all entirely my own fault, and I had a lot to learn in order to get past the bosses.
Despite being one of those games that tries to emulate the success of arcade games of the past, the checkpoint system of 8Days is annoyingly modern. Every time the scene changes, the game saves the checkpoint. This is generally a good thing, as if I die in most games, I will be warped reasonably close to where I died, so I do not have to replay the same section over and over again. In 8Days, this is true, but if I died because of a lack of ammunition, then I will have that same limited amount of ammunition when I try again. This generally left me with three choices; accept that I needed to restart from the beginning, figure out how to conserve some ammunition, or somehow beat the odds and win through with a knife. There was often no way of going back to collect more ammunition either, making it rather irritating. I’d actually like this better if the checkpoints were few and far between, then at least I can try and be more frugal with ammunition instead of being stuck in the one room for hours.
While I will try and discuss the art style of games in many of my reviews, I have found over the past two years that developers are going for some sort of nostalgic feel to their games by making them pixelated. More often than not, however, these games tend to be at a much higher pixel count than even the Super Nintendo, while giving the game the sound of an original NES title and the colour palette of a Sega Master System title. If games such as 8Days are trying to attract the older generation and ask them to buy into their games, then I will counter-argue that it seems pointless to not have a single direction as to what the game should represent. 8-Bit this is not.
For all the effort into making all of the pixel art for the game, it often ends up looking and sounding like a confused mess. This does not make it any less playable, but it sure does make it less immersive and enjoyable. I think these titles, and in particular this one, would do better if the art style was just simply hand drawn, graphic novel style of art instead. My thoughts on this could purely come from the fact that I’m used to what a pixel game looks like as I’m from an older era, but it was too distracting for me to fully enjoy the game for what it was.
I could perhaps recommend this game to those looking for a crushingly difficult dual stick shooting game. It’s humorous at times and it does have some personality to it. It is the kind of game that could be brilliant with a few tweaks here and there, but presented as it, I do find it difficult to recommend to most people.