8Days Review

By Cindy Minguez,
8DAYS is a new 8-bit, top-down, dual stick shooter from Badland Indie and Santa Clara Games. You take the role of a ruthless mercenary that travels from job to job across the world, cleaning up messes for the higher ups. Amongst the large number of retro indies we've had in the last few months, does 8Days manage to stand out?

logoLola or Mike?

You are a member of G.O.D. (Gold, Oil, Diamonds - GOOD on Nasdaq), a mercenary force that works hand-in-hand with 8Days Magazine, the media arm of your organization that keeps the masses in check by putting their own private spin on the news and controlling public opinion. G.O.D. is the leading Private Military Company in the world and its job is to settle wars to its customers' satisfaction. As the game begins, you will choose which "expendable mercenary" you wish to be — Lola or Mike. You will then immediately find yourself off to settle The Rice War. Your helicopter crashes, and you wake up in a torture chamber. Here, you must find a weapon and make it out alive.

The first mission finds you traversing an island replete with stereotypical Asian enemies and rice paddies. You will learn very quickly that this game is HARD as you find yourself dying a shocking number of times. Your life bar allows for three hits before you die. It is very, very easy to get hit three times; enemies with machetes destroy you in one hit. You cannot carry healing items, but you can pick them up along the way. A med kit (usually acquired by killing medics) will refill two sections of the life bar. Sometimes, you can make your own food by killing pigs; steaks or ham found along the way will replenish one section of the health bar.

If you go down before you reach the end of an area, which serves as a checkpoint, you have to start again from the very beginning, so making progress can be a frustrating endeavor. Checkpoints are unevenly spaced through the game. Ducking into a cave might create one, but then the next will require you to cover a very large area, which is very difficult to successfully cross with so little life and so few health replenishments available. Another downside to the checkpoints is that when you die, you will re-start at the checkpoint with whatever you had at the time, meaning that if you only had one life bar when you reached that point, you will re-start with one life bar. The cards are stacked against you at every turn.

8Days Screens 01The Rice War

You will meet a mini-boss then the main boss in each level. Non-combatants are also thrown into the mix. It doesn't take long to figure out which are your enemies and which aren't, but the game will have a fighter hidden behind a non-combatant now and then. The boss fights (mini and otherwise) do add a little variety to the game, requiring you to dodge a barrage of projectiles, and there are health kits and other healing items available during the fight (though sparingly). However, the game doesn't recognize whether your health is full or not. If you accidentally run over the health kit while you're trying to dodge, it will disappear whether you needed it or not, which can also lead to some colorful language in the midst of the fight.

As you try to escape the first dungeon, you will have to work on learning the dual stick controls. You move with left stick, aim with right stick, fire your weapon with RT, re-load with RB, throw your weapon with LT, and switch weapons with LB. You'll begin each area with your rifle from the previous area as your only weapon, but different weapons can be found throughout the levels. You can carry two weapons at any given time and may choose from knives, machetes, machine pistols, shot guns, bazookas, etc. These will change in each chapter. For example, in Chapter 2, where most of your enemies are robots, you'll use wrenches and stun bombs and silenced pistols. Some weapons have multiple purposes; wrenches can take out enemies in one hit and can be thrown, but they can also break open boxes to find items. Others aren't always fatal. Stun bombs send out a wave that knocks down all enemies. The effect only lasts two or three seconds, so you have to be quick, but you can kill enemies while they're down.

Anytime you come across a weapon you already have, picking it up gives you extra ammo. How much ammo you can carry is seemingly unlimited, but one thing of which to be aware is that these guns work like real life. When you reload, whatever is left in the old clip will be thrown away with it, so keep that in mind before you throw in a new one. If you drop a rifle with eight clips of ammo, you will still have the eight clips of ammo when you pick up that weapon again later. However, here you find the cards stacked against you, too. You can't always find ammo for the weapon of your choice, so you're stuck with whatever you can find. Where the problem arises is that a certain weapon might have worked much better for an area, but you couldn't find enough ammo to keep that weapon.

8Days Screens 3Break boxes with the wrench to find items.

With no option to change the difficulty settings, having a friend jump into local co-op would probably be a big help, right? Not a chance. When two people play, enemies become that much harder, taking twice as many hits to go down as they did with a single player. The game punishes you for playing co-op, and the co-op mechanic doesn't flow all that well either. It's very easy to drop into the game with a second player — just pick up a controller and hit A to have the other character appear. It's not so easy to drop out though. When the second player turns off his or her controller, the game prompts the person to continue, and the remaining player can do nothing to move past this prompt. For the second player to get out of the game, you'll have to quit what you're doing and start over without the second player. The game offers only local co-op; online multiplayer isn't available.

Finally are the achievements and if the game was hard before, it just got a lot harder. To give you an idea of the difficulty, consider one of the ratios. The game only has five chapters, but completing a game has a TA ratio of 7.96; this game is seriously difficult, folks. To get all of the achievements, you'll have to finish it not once, but twice — once as Mike and once as Lola, so think 7.96 times two. Many of the achievements may be had through the natural progression of the game, but others are acquired by exploring in areas that aren't strictly required to complete a chapter. There are some Easter eggs tucked into each chapter, such as Joakim Mogren in Chapter 2, but even these can be confusing; I'm not sure what Joakim Mogren has to do with Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's books. You can, however, re-visit previous chapters to pick up achievements you've missed. Like the game itself, the achievements will take some serious work to complete.

Summary

8Days: Peace Is Our Business is an 8-bit, top-down, dual stick shooter that is crazy hard. If you really enjoy the retro genre and a truly challenging game then this might be for you, but you can expect some serious punishment along the way. Not only is it hard to stay alive, it's even harder if a friend joins in to try and help. Additionally, if you're a completionist, this game could truly be a nightmare as it requires two playthroughs to earn all of its 27 achievements. The graphics are average and the story isn't especially exciting. Adding the ridiculous difficulty on top of that makes this title less than stellar. The brightest spot in the whole game is Lola's flaming pink hair.
5 / 10
8DAYS
Positives
  • Challenging
  • Changing environments
Negatives
  • No way to adjust difficulty
  • Too hard to be fun
  • Punished for playing co-op
Ethics
The reviewer spent about 5 hours dying, dying, and dying some more for a total of 5 of the game's 27 achievements, feeling lucky to have made it that far. An Xbox One download code for this game was provided by the pubisher for the purpose of this review.
Cindy Minguez
Written by Cindy Minguez
Cindy has been writing for TA/TT for three years now and is the Assistant Manager of the Newshounds at TrueTrophies. She's an English instructor at a small college and considered a remarkably cool teacher for knowing all about Mass Effect, Skyrim, and Diablo III.