8DAYS is infuriating. Every step is dangerous, every fight hard fought, and every weapon precious. Indeed, 8DAYS’ mix of twin-stick shooting, bullet hell and stealth is an intriguing and highly challenging hybrid of genres that often feels insurmountable but is oh so satisfying when you overcome it. It’s the best kind of infuriating.
You are an elite mercenary working for the private military company G.O.D Inc. (Gold, Oil and Diamonds), undergoing operations all over the world to serve your outfit’s clients the best you can. This means murder, mayhem, and war mongering. It makes for a nice change, playing in the mud a little, with no clear heroes and villains just different shades of grey. Of course, a story of betrayal and conspiracies soon unfolds around you, but for the most part it simply facilitates new locations for you to struggle through against superior numbers and weaponry.
Equipment is OSP (on-site procurement) with only two slots available to you. Rocks, guns, knives, rocket launchers and more can be picked up and utilised against your enemies, allowing you to brutally bludgeon, shoot, slice and blow-up those that stand in your way. It’s a bloodthirsty and vicious existence serving as a mercenary, but a necessary one, drop your guard and you won’t be returning home in one piece.
Enemies will react lightning fast to your presence, sending a hail of bullets your way, not dissimilar to a bullet hell shooter, or chasing you with their massive knives where one hit can kill you. Even some of the local fauna will attack on site and ruin your day. Furthermore, you can fall off cliffs and fall in rivers, making awareness of your surroundings a crucial skill. It often feels like everything is out to kill you, and it’s equally exhilarating and terrifying, thanks largely to how insanely fast the action is and how easy it is to die.
Fortunately, progress can be broken down into screens. Each time you reach the edge of a screen and move to a new area it acts as a checkpoint. This allows you to break down the challenge into chunks, and once you figure out the troop placement for a particular screen, you can begin to work your way through it, engaging groups individually, skirting round them entirely, or just running for the edge in a mad dash. It’s completely up to you, and each screen is large enough to provide some tactical options, allowing you to make progress through multiple styles of play.
You’re sent on multiple operations with each one offering an entirely different location and set of enemies to overcome. There’s some nice variety here, whether it’s outdoors in a dusty desert or lush forest, or inside an advanced facility. All of which are superbly designed to provide multiple paths to your objective, or large screen where you can choose your method of engagement. Midway through an operation you’ll face a mini-boss, testing your reactions and accuracy thoroughly, then at the end of each operation another boss will challenge you. These encounters offer a mix of threatening and quirky opponents, in line with the action parody tone of the game. They’re delightfully deranged and dangerous.
It can certainly get frustrating when you fail to get past a screen multiple times (see my video), or can’t figure out the best path forwards, but with each screen offering a discrete challenge and a checkpoint, perseverance will eventually get you through. And it’s cleverly designed to make the frustrations as fleeting as possible. Bringing a second player along for the ride in local coop often turns the frustrating into hilarious shared disasters, and the stunning pixel art portrays the blood, gore and murder in a rather fetching way. Sure it’s challenging, but it’s also fun, funny and compelling enough to keep you playing.
Thanks to Xbox and Badland Games for supporting TiX