Seven Days Review – The Pain of Giving Up The Ghost

    Title: Seven Days
    Developer: Life0
    Release Date: December 13, 2019
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Fruitbat Factory
    Genre: Visual Novel

When a game title includes a sense of time, you can typically count me in as interested. This is because I enjoy it when stories take place over a defined period. So when I was turned on to Seven Days With You: The Most Precious Memory in Our Lives or Seven Days for short, you can probably guess what grabbed my attention first. However, it seems developer Life0 wants to double down on its pandering to me by making this adventure an occult mystery.

Seven Days stars Shuuichi Kanzaki, our faceless high school protagonist. He’s your standard relatable lead, who likes games and has little in the way of friends. Aside from his childhood friend Murasaki, he seems to push people away. However, one particularly sly classmate doesn’t care about that quality, and much to Shuuichi’s chagrin “gives him” an allegedly cursed DVD to play at home. Lo and behold, the disc is haunted, and Shuu is attacked by an evil spirit who takes the form of a young girl in white with long black hair.

Hold on, isn’t this just the plot of The Ring? You’re absolutely right. It is.

Well, right up until the girl is defeated by Murasaki, who just so happens to be an Exorcist. However, the evil spirit then becomes a ghost girl named Chiyako, who turns out to be playing host to six other ghosts. According to our friendly neighborhood exorcist, Murasaki, a spirit can remain in the physical world for approximately 49 days, so after some deliberation, the ghosts decide that they will split their time evenly. Each one will get seven days with Chiyako’s body before they pass on, leaving another spirit to take their place. Shuuichi and Murasaki then take it upon themselves to make sure these ghosts will be able to gain some closure within the week.

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You’ll probably notice that Seven Days is visually a beautiful game. Backgrounds are marvelous, and every character is exceptionally illustrated. I especially love the gradients used in the character’s eyes. Still, the game is somewhat limited in terms of transitions and cut-ins, but it makes up for this with background quality and quantity.

The story of the game takes place predominantly in Shuuichi’s home, which is made up of four background CGs that have variations based upon the time of day. This allows for what feels like a beautiful hub area, as characters continuously shift between rooms. It sounds ridiculous and minor when put like that, but it helps keep the mood of time continually moving. After all, this is a 30-hour game, and you don’t want to get bored.

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Seven Days plays as you would expect of a standard visual novel, following a very linear chapter to chapter path. Though there are a few neat bits here and there that help shake a few things up, such as a couple of quick-time events, which don’t happen too often. To prevent the game from linearity, there are also loads of small choices players can make.

You’ve also got the whole nine yards of bad endings based on your choices, but those routes are more or less intentional. It’s easy to jump to particular parts of the story if you want to replay them, as the game has a chapter select menu that hard unlocks as you progress the story. The UI here is all well designed, and I even found admiration for the game’s menus. All the options you could ask for and more on a cleanly formatted menu.

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The meat of this story is the cast, with four living characters and seven ghosts, it’s not hard to find a character you’ll like when each is so drastically different from one another. Every chapter makes some serious use out of the available cast to give you a pleasant time with a ghost until her time is up. Seven Days has a dwindling party, which helps on two counts. As the cast gets smaller, the game doesn’t have to spend so much time reminding you that everyone else exists. Because they no longer do.

That in itself has a remarkable effect on the story if you’re a fan of having your soul crushed, as this title is very good at doing that. The chapter loop of getting to know characters, have them develop relationships, and then kill them off is masterfully made. I teared up many a time throughout this game. Seven Days also goes the extra mile and shows you the effect this has on the cast members, having moments of dialogue questioning what it actually means to live.

Unfortunately, there is some clear missed potential in regards to the lead. Leaving Shuuichi faceless does hamper many emotional scenes. Shuuichi is his own character, and actually giving him a design would add so much more weight and impact to numerous instances. Luckily, the sound design can swoop in and cushion the landing, filing chapters, and their finales with all the pain and suffering I requested.

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Seven Days turns out to be a fantastic visual novel that excels in creating a meaningful cast of characters supported by great design and music. The game takes a wacky premise and turns it into an emotional tale of heartbreak, the afterlife, and existence. Though I might have had an existential crisis while playing, I enjoyed this brilliant story.

Though I have criticisms about the use of a faceless protagonist in this story, Seven Days is a must-play visual novel for any fans of mystery and supernatural themes. Also, if you’re like me and just enjoy a period of time being included in the title then this is absolutely a must-buy.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Pyre Kavanagh

Senior Editor - Illusions to illusions. Will solve murder mysteries for money so they can buy more murder mysteries. @PyreLoop on twitter