Written by Daikon
This article was featured in our 2023 August issue. Check out more articles and interviews in the full issue.
The movies that I watched as a child about going on grand adventures, like E.T. and the Goonies, really stuck with me throughout the years. Even when I watch them again now as an adult, they still ignite my childlike wonder at the world. I of course have never witnessed anything supernatural like from these movies, but I do have some experience going on adventures. I grew up building secret bases in the woods, journeying to neighboring towns, and making lifelong friends. These old movies still have that power to transport me back to my childhood. And playing games, naturally, has that same effect on me.
7DAYS HEROES by Akira Abe, a solo developer making games under the name studioBBQ, is an action-platformer that tells the story of three children and their pet dog, all of them in possession of special abilities. They face down hordes of zombies in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by nanomachines. They must help and support each other as they escape from the research facility where they were raised and search for the truth behind the zombie outbreak.
The game uses 2D pixel art with chibified characters set in a large, expressive world. The character designs are cute, lovable, and easily distinguishable. I enjoyed watching them leap and bound through the post-apocalyptic yet colorful world. There are more than 30 stages, and players can use a wide variety of play styles by mixing and matching item loadouts and character skills. During play, the characters move in a very bouncy and expressive way, and the controls feel smooth and comfortable. The music also left a strong impression, creating an atmosphere that was both tense and heartrending. It captures the tension of the characters fighting together against unimaginable odds.
One distinctive feature of the game is the way your non-active party members are programmed to try and keep up with the player. The player is always in control of one of four characters, and the other three are essentially bots that follow simple instructions such as following the player or waiting in place. The player must guide all of the characters through the stages, swapping between them as needed to use their unique abilities, and aim to reach the goal with everyone in tow. This can be quite challenging at times as guiding all four characters at once through various obstacles can be tricky. But these challenges are the essence of the game, and the player will want to see the full party reach the next area together.
Let's take another look at the story.
The main characters are children with superhuman powers who grew up in a laboratory. There, an AI brain called MAI researches humans and collects data on the children. The main characters were raised to think of MAI as their mother. The inciting incident is of MAI going berserk, and our four main leads must escape from the lab and confront their new reality.
The story of 7DAYS HEROES is as exciting as other movies and comics about superhuman children going on grand adventures. However, these children are destined to confront and overcome the hardships of the world from which they had been shielded. In these circumstances, even if you had something like psychic powers to defeat your enemies, you would probably be weighed down by anxiety and fear over what you may find waiting ahead of you.
And so 7DAYS HEROES is not just a story about superhuman children, but more importantly, of their friendship. Your friends can be a powerful help, and sometimes a hindrance. For this reason, the player must swap between them to compensate for the children's incomplete mastery over their own powers. There is a sense of dread over what the children will learn about the hidden truth of their world. The anxiety that the characters feel as they approach their goal is a huge obstacle that they must overcome, and so must encourage each other and work together until the very end.
I have no magical powers. I don't have any special abilities like these kids. I've never met a zombie, either. But I can understand the feeling of cherishing your friends, and it's something I have always cherished. I think the appeal of this game is that by facing difficulties together as this plucky group of children, you can reexperience that feeling even as an adult.