From Spanish developers Santa Clara Games, 8DAYS is a dual-stick shooter that centers around the events of Lola “Wasp” and Mike “Ghost”, although the game’s narrative is more mature than it may sound. 8DAYS features fast-paced gameplay and incredibly difficult scenarios that, for the most part, combine to deliver incredibly fun and appropriately challenging levels. While the game is not without some significant issues, there’s so much flavor and style that I found it easy to forgive.
I am not one for games like Bloodborne and Dark Souls that just rip the player apart every chance they get. I’m more comfortable with my third-person and first-person shooters where I can hide behind allies or actual physical cover. 8DAYS then, should have been a tale of frustration as the dual-stick shooter puts the player in some near impossible segments that take a ton of skill and patience to beat. But yet the game’s difficulty is probably my favorite thing about it.
“The frantic nature of the gameplay coupled with the appropriate difficulty of the game combine to deliver a fresh experience that is best suited for co-op play.”
Its combination of twitch controls and punishing AI is paired with a checkpoint system that saves the state of the game at the end of each small section. Now while the checkpoint system is outright broken at times, forcing the player to get through a segment with no ammo, it imbues a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ feeling that kept me going. Sure, the next section might have eight enemies with heavy weapons and some quick melee units, but I can see the door on the other side to get the next checkpoint. The feeling of accomplishment after taking out a swarm of enemies with all types of guns and melee weapons finally makes me understand the appeal of the Souls game.
The enthralling combat is wrapped up in a narrative that was surprisingly far more mature and serious than I expected. The 1980’s era story is replete with violence and torture that is most evident through the game’s environmental storytelling, with government agencies and shady businesses taking control of the world for their own profit. There’s a real sense of both horror and beauty in the world, and I constantly wished to see the environments in more detail than its current charming, but simplistic, 8-bit form.
What also surprised me was the brilliant soundtrack that is certainly repetitive, but just so good. There were moments I would hold off on engaging enemies just to let the soundtrack blare in the background before the less than stellar combat soundtrack kicked in. Having the option to disable the switch to the combat soundtrack, and instead stick to other audio cues to let the player know they’re in for a fight, would have been a welcome addition especially when fighting the game’s bosses that offer a different, albeit brief, break from fighting infantry.
On the way to said bosses, the game does a brilliant job with its pacing as players are given new, shiny weapons to wield just as the current assortment starts to feel repetitive. The visual effects could have used a bit more punch, specifically with the rocket launcher, although this may be due to the inclusion of co-op and the technical drawbacks that it adds. Those drawbacks are well worth it though as 8DAYS somehow becomes even more frantic with the addition of a couch co-op buddy. While the game’s shooting mechanics aren’t as precise as I’d like, there’s a real level of strategy when setting up your mate to cover one side as enemies walk into your line of sight and you blast them away.
While 8DAYS has its fair share of issues, the overall experience is one worthy of your time. The frantic nature of the gameplay coupled with the appropriate difficulty of the game combine to deliver a fresh experience that is best suited for co-op play. While the game’s shooting mechanics could be more precise, it almost adds an extra layer of strategy and randomness that, in a peculiar way, makes the game more enjoyable. And while the combat soundtrack is downright boring, the exploration soundtrack is lively and a whole lot of fun to play to. 8DAYS is a game of ups and downs, but its sky-high positives outweigh any menial negatives in this 1980’s era dual-stick shooter.
***PS4 code provided by the publisher***
- Dark environmental storytelling
- Strategic gameplay
- Couch co-op
- Inaccurate shooting mechanics
- Boss fights over too quickly