One rainy Friday the 13th, Venca gets a visit from a very promising new client, a Mr. Smiht.
February 20, 2006
Release Date: 1994
Seven Days and Seven Nights, hereafter referred to as 7D7N, is by no means a well known game. In fact it's quite obscure, and unquestionably set to remain that way. Published in 1994, it is one of the very first Czech commercial adventuregames. It reflects the humble beginnings of the Czech gaming industry, which is nowadays known for titles such as Operation Flashpoint, Hidden and Dangerous, Mafia, or Pterodon Software's own Vietcong; adventure gamers are likely to be familiar with Black Mirror or Nibiru.
Since most readers of this review are extremely unlikely to play 7D7N, seeing asthe game only exists in Czech language version, I will describe the game's plot (such as it is) in more detail than usual. For those who wish to avoid spoilers, please read the next few paragraphs at your own peril.
The main character and hero, and I'm using that term very loosely, of 7D7N is private dick named Venca Záhyb (his name could loosely be translated as Jack Cheat). Venca lives in a nondescript small Czech town, and he's not exactly what you'd call an upstanding citizen. He's a drinker, he's a womanizer, he's always behind on his payments, he doesn't appear to be all that smart, but he does possess certain level of animal cunning. He's perhaps in his late twenties (not easy to tell with cartoon characters), has a blond pony tail, thinks smoking is cool, and he swaggers.
One rainy Friday the 13th, Venca gets a visit from a very promising new client, a Mr. Smiht (not a typo). Mr. Smiht introduces himself as a wealthy businessman and has an unusual task for Venca. Mr. Smiht is leaving for a week on a business trip, and wants Venca to guard his seven young daughters.
Now if you look back at the name of this game and phrases such as "fox guarding the chicken coop" spring to your mind, rest assured that you are entirely on the right track. Winning the hearts of seven young ladies is presumably beyond the skills of even the most accomplished speed dating Casanova, so Venca decides to go for the next best thing. Later that day, while drinking beer in the local pub with his buddy, Venca bets that he can spend a night with each of the Smiht daughters before the week is over.
The next morning is when the actual game starts; you take control of Venca and start working on his arduous week long quest. The Smiht daughters for some odd reason live in a downtown hotel. You can start talking to them right away, but early in the game, only a few doors are unlocked. The game is split into seven days; the required tasks for each day may be accomplished in any order, but the overall sequence is predefined and unchangeable.
The daughters of Mr. Smiht are all in their twenties and single (an educated guess on both counts), but that's about all they have in common. They all have unlikely names such as Jasmína, Karmína or Rosalína. Each of them has a specific "weakness" - one likes pets, one likes jewelry, one likes good food, one likes sports. From a purely adventuring standpoint, some of them are easy while others are quite hard to get. The trickiest is Hermína, who likes girls. Venca has to jump through a few hoops, not to mention amass a sizable collection of female clothing plus fake breasts, in order to get past Hermína. After each day of the game, there is a monochromatic image that may not be very artfully drawn, yet makes it quite clear what happened at night, and why Venca complains of exhaustion the next morning.
Each Miss Smiht gives Venca her necklace after the night is over. Together, the seven necklaces form a key to Mr. Smiht's very large safe that holds a very large and very fabulous blue diamond. Obtaining this diamond is a condition for Rosalína's consent and Venca's last objective in the game (or rather next to last). Unfortunately for Venca, Mr. Smiht returns very shortly after Venca's mission is accomplished. Predictably, Mr. Smiht is not too impressed with Venca's work and gives Venca a good punch on the jaw. So good in fact, that Venca takes off on a nine month orbital trip (remember, this is a cartoon game). Venca returns to Earth only to discover that he is a happy father of seven lovely babies. Or maybe not so happy, but it's hard to tell because that's where the game is over.
The game has a sequel, called Six Grooms Plus One, which was released as a freeware Flash game in 2004.
7D7N feels like a commercially published indie game, and I suspect that's exactly what it is for all intents and purposes. The graphics are plain 320x200 VGA, which was nothing special even in 1994. The style is cartoony, and fits the game well.7D7N is a third person point and click game, and the puzzles are purely inventory based. The game is of medium length, neither too short nor too long, just about right.
Since the game was published on floppies, there is no speech. That means no amateurish and grating voice acting. The music is a little tricky to get working on modern hardware, but it's nothing special anyway. There are several soundtracks that aren't bad, but get repetitive rather quickly.
The puzzles are a mixed lot and two or five are the kind that give adventure games a bad name. Some are logical, at least in hindsight. Others are not. It might be politically correct to say that they require thinking outside the box, but it'd be so far outside and the box would be so tiny that there's no point in even mentioning it. Here's an example with unavoidable SPOILERS: In the game there is a well where, Venca is told, a lot of junk lies at the bottom. Lowering a magnet in a wooden bucket in the hope of collecting metal objects might be called lateral thinking. However, there is no magnet in the game. On the other hand, there is a dead dog in your inventory, and there's a live electrical socket in your office. If your lateral thinking is so well developed that you immediately realize that inserting the dead dog into the socket will turn it into a temporary electromagnet, I truly fear for your sanity. Compared to this, floating out of a ditch on a vaguely balloon-shaped object manufactured from very thin rubber (possibly ribbed, flavoured, and/or lubricated, although the game is unclear on this point), filled with gas leaking from a nearby pipe, is a completely logical and very sensible thing to do.
The writing and dialogue is roughly in the style of Leisure Suit Larry games. Most of it is funny, some of it is lame. Or the other way around, depending on your taste. On the whole the game would work reasonably well as a lighthearted and naughty romp - if it wasn't for the insane puzzles. There's no saving the world, no secret conspiracies, no murders, and only cartoon violence. Compared to LSL there's also less innuendo and double entendre - 7D7N is more open and direct in its approach; one might say less sophisticated.
Seven Days and Seven Nights is definitely not a classic, and even calling it a good game might be pushing things a bit. At the same time I feel that calling it a bad game would be unfair because it is entertaining (at least for certain values of "entertaining"), and its authors clearly had fun making it. Besides all that, it's a piece of history. I'm giving it a D+. The D is for execution, plus is for effort.
Final Grade: D+