In this survival game the chickens are monsters and I am always on fire

All of us, at one time or another, have been stranded on an island full of chickens after our science vessel has exploded. We’ve all seen the chickens turn into demonic weasel monsters—because of bad science—when the sun goes down. And we’ve all tried to warm ourselves by a cozy campfire only to suddenly and repeatedly become engulfed in flames.

In other words, the premise of survival crafting game Three Days is pretty familiar. And surviving for three days to repair our science boat and escape the Dire Chickens doesn’t sound that difficult. There’s food everywhere: coconuts, apples, and of course meat harvested from chickens in their non-monster forms. There are crafting resources everywhere as well. By simply standing behind a boulder, I can pummel it into stones, minerals, and flint. Trees can similarly be slapped into logs and sticks.

Stand behind a bush and you will begin masturbating. Okay, it’s probably not masturbation, it’s just a different harvesting animation, but because I have the mentality of a 10-year-old that’s what it immediately looks like to me.

At least my secret shame is hidden briefly behind a giant warning that night is falling. And, as I’ve alluded to several times, when the sun goes down the chickens turn into monsters. Monsters that look like weasels. I’m completely unprepared to be swarmed by cheasels (I’m calling them cheasels) so I flee into the ocean, where I comically swim-run, pumping my arms up and down, until I am killed by a shark. 

In case you can’t read that menu tip, it warns me that I’ll need a fireplace to avoid freezing at night. Frankly, I’ve got more pressing concerns like sharks and cheasels and the fact that I don’t even know how to make a fireplace or a fire to place inside it.

Crafting isn’t done with recipes or an inventory system: you just have to guess what might work by clicking and dragging things on top of one another. It’s a little tricky because dragging one object onto another insta-crafts something you may not want, and if the two objects aren’t compatible, trying to combine them will push the second object away. I push a great many precious resources into the sea while trying to make a campfire.

There’s only a little time each day before night falls to slap trees and boulders into their base components and drag them on top of each other properly. I accidentally craft a great many things: spears, vines, shovels, and spike traps. And all the while, hundreds of chickens are running around me at top speed, which makes me nervous because I know they will soon turn into horrifying science monsters and kill me, forcing me to start over from scratch. It’s more than a little nerve-wracking.

At least the spikes I accidentally make do come in handy as night falls once more and the chickens transform. By running in circles I kill a great many of them, leaving piles of their weird skulls everywhere. But no matter how many cheasels I kill, there are dozens more, and by running repeatedly over my own spike traps I’m really just doing their work for them. 

Fleeing into the ocean, as I always wind up doing, makes me both cold and dead from sharks. I have yet to survive a single night on Cheasel Island. I need to unlock the secret of fire!

Eventually, I do: by combining the correct sequence of stones and logs and vines, I manage to create a campfire. At night, the cheasels won’t come near my fire, but then I can’t venture too far from it either. Plus, if I get too close, I catch on fire. This happens about fifteen times in a row, and each time I have to dash to the ocean to put myself out. There’s one other issue: the campfire burns itself out pretty quickly.

I discover this while I’m using the skills menu. You gain XP with activities like slapping boulders into rocks or killing chickens or crafting objects. This allows you to buy survival bonuses. Using the skills menu, however, doesn’t pause the game. So, while I’m trying to read the descriptions of the skills, my fire dies out and cheasels swarm over my legs. So, I run around madly, manage to grab the my fire-starting tool, manage to find the campfire, and actually manage to get it lit.

Then I immediately set myself on fire again. 

Still, I’m pleased to finally survive an entire night! In fact, I last the whole next day as well. I accidentally fashion a spear, and use it to awkwardly hunt some daytime chickens, grab their meat, stick it into my fire, and make an island-cooked meal. I slap some more trees and rocks and drag them close together, so when night falls and my fire burns out I’ll be able to quickly light a new one. I also experiment a little, trying to drag leaves, feathers, and sticks into my fire to see if they’ll stoke the flames a little.

This eventually results in me crafting a fatal error. 

Frankly, it’s the best result I could have hoped for. The cheasels didn’t get me. The cheasels didn’t goddamn get me.

I sort of love this little game? It’s definitely rough and clunky and I did lose progress on my best run by crafting a crash, but the animation makes me laugh, you progressively learn how things work, and if a chicken wanders into my fire it catches fire and if I get too close to the burning chicken I catch on fire as well. 

Three Days is $5 on Steam

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.