The twin-stick shooter market has hugely grown in popularity over the past few years, with some great titles such as Enter The Gungeon and DOGOS, just to mention a few. So, to make an impression in this vast genre a game need to really stand out. 8Days, developed by Santa Clara Games, does so many thing well, unfortunately, the latter stages of the game don’t carry the enjoyment of the first half.
The campaign consists of 5 missions, each lasting around the 1 hour mark, depending on how much you die, which inevitable, you’ll will die…a lot, but more on that later. You can choose to play through the game as one of two mercenaries; neither offer different gameplay mechanics so this is purely a cosmetic choice, which feels like a missed opportunity – having different abilities to play with could have added more depth to the already great gunplay 8Days offers.
The moment you start the first mission it’s clear to see the developers wanted to provide you with the ability to dodge the variety of projectiles you’ll face throughout the game. The slick movement and responsive shooting mechanics lead to some very enjoyable edge-of-your-seat standoffs with a variety of NPC’s, it also made most the boss fights an accessible challenge. I say ‘most’ as the boss fights are very inconsistent. Each missions offers two bosses, a mid-level boss and an end-level boss. On several occasion I would find the mid level boss a real challenge, having to really asses their movements and attacks to ensure I was in the right place at the write time; however all but one of the end-level bosses were far too easy and often took away that feeling of triumph.
The first two missions bring a steep learning curve, but one I relished to overcome. There’s no denying that 8Days brings a seriously challenge, and as with the harder bosses it also bring a great sense of joy when successfully completing a difficult section within a mission. Unfortunately I found this sense of achievement to only really lasts for the first 2 missions. One of the hardest challenges in the game is managing your health, you only have 3 health slots and with each shot you take you lose one. As you would expect, first aid kits are pretty sparse, but during the first 2 missions they felt just adequate enough to not become frustrating.
The solid and slick gunplay is not only the most enjoyable part of the game but pretty much the foundation of what 8Days is trying to achieve. So when starting the third mission I found it very strange for the game to only equipped me with a rock, which when taking on 4-5 enemies at the same time create pretty impossible-to-win gameplay. After countless times of failing to get anywhere I’d often resorted to making a run for it, which, believe it or not, actually worked several times. I hated taking this approach to the game; I appreciate the developer wanted to create challenging gameplay, but there’s a big difference between a game being hard and a game cheaply giving you literally no resources to succeed.
There is some basic story to 8Days, a mercenary organisation is try to stop a new cult know as the Masters of Mankind. The story is shared through cutscenes at the beginning of each mission. It really didn’t bother me that the story wasn’t the main focus of the game, as previously mention the times 8Days does shine is when you’ve got a gun in your hand. Local co-op is available and provides some good tactical fun. Although I didn’t spend a lot of time playing with a friend, when I did the gameplay in the final three missions was more accessible, albeit still pretty frustrating.
As a fundamental shooter 8Days is great; the slick and fast paced movement combined with the responsive shooting mechanics makes early stages of the game a lot of fun to play. However, the lack of weapons, ammo and health in the latter stages bring more of a cheap difficulty rather than a welcomed challenged.