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Days Gone Review

Days Gone Review

Days Gone is an open-world, third-person survival game from Bend Studios and it’s their first console game since Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain on the PS2 back in 2004. They’ve released several games for the PSP and PS Vita since then and now it seems they are ready for home consoles once again. Unfortunately, Days Gone is a swing and miss in so many aspects. It isn’t a terrible game, there are just an immense amount of minor problems, along with a few major ones, that prevent Days Gone from being on par with the top tier PlayStation exclusives we’ve seen in the recent years. I’m truly disappointed with how the game turned out since I thought this was going to be the game that took many people – like myself – by surprise with how good it was, but I was wrong, so very wrong.

Days Gone opens with an emotional scene as our protagonist, Deacon St. John, pleads to get himself, his wife Sarah and his biker gang buddy Boozer (who are all injured in different ways) on a helicopter to safety in the middle of a “Freaker” outbreak, but the helicopter only has room for two. So, Deacon decides to put his wife on the chopper and stay with his buddy Boozer because he doesn’t want either to die/be alone. I don’t want to spoil too much of the story so I’ll stop there, but the game picks up two years after that and you are now in the post-apocalyptic world of Days Gone, still searching for your wife you put on the helicopter that day.

It took me about 40 hours to finish Days Gone and honestly, it might have been the longest 40 hours of my life. The story of Days Gone drags on and goes in so many directions for so long I stopped really caring about what was going on around 20-ish hours in. The thing is, there are some awesome moments in Days Gone, especially towards the last quarter of the game, but the journey to get there just isn’t fun and doesn’t even feel rewarding most of the time. I feel there is a very solid 10 to 15-hour game here if all the unnecessary fat was cut off.

My other big issue with the story of Days Gone is the characters and how they are written because there is just so much inconsistency between all of them. Deacon St. John alone is such a mess of a character, feeling like two different people throughout the entire game. There is ‘cutscene Deacon’ who is a normal person dealing with the potential loss of his wife, and then there is ‘open-world Deacon’ who is just constantly talking, making weird noises and saying a bunch of messed up, serial-killer-like dialogue throughout the game. This alone made me hate Deacon St. John because it felt like he was two-faced. He would be nice and calm to someone in a cutscene, and directly after it, he would start yelling to himself about what just happened in a completely different tone. Maybe that was intentional, but it felt like two different people wrote Deacon two very different ways and they just went with it. The side characters are somewhat better since you don’t see them as often and everyone – including Deacon – has solid performances throughout, but the writing for Deacon is just so inconsistent it becomes immersion breaking.

The way the missions are structured in Days Gone is based on a quite long list of ‘storylines’ that intertwine with one another in various ways and progress with each other when they do intertwine. Most are story based, some of them are just side missions, but the rewards for almost all of them are just a huge question mark and are most of the fat this game could’ve cut off. Sometimes you get something useful from a mission like the ability to craft something new, but it felt like most of the time I was getting decals for my motorcycle which I never used because they’re useless Why would I care so much how my motorcycle looks in this post-apocalyptic world? I should be happy I have a motorcycle at all.

Speaking of the motorcycle, it is actually quite fun to drive in the latter half of the game when you have upgraded it significantly, but before that, it’s just alright. Which is understandable because you’re supposed to build it up and upgrade it to make it better, but the entire process of doing so is such an unnecessary pain and it, again, slows down the pacing of the game. The gas tank for the motorcycle goes down so quickly even when upgraded fully, but there is way more gas in this world than I would have originally thought so finding gas is never really a problem.

There are multiple camps in Days Gone that you discover throughout the story and these camps are how you upgrade your bike and get better weapons, but again, there is unnecessary fat around it. Each camp has its own currency, specialization, and trust levels. One might specialize in guns making it easier to get better guns at a lower trust level and another might have better motorcycle upgrades at a lower trust level, but you never know which one it will be until you actually get there or remember on your own. Trust levels can – slowly – be increased by doing missions for the respective camps, sending people you find on the road to one camp or the other, or giving the camp ‘bounties’ (ears from the various Freakers you kill) and meat. This entire system became a problem quickly as I rushed to increase the trust at the camp that gave me bike upgrades, which in turn caused the camp that gives me good weapons to have a lower trust level. So, I was essentially stuck with the same weapons the majority of the game.

My feeling towards the combat in Days Gone is similar to the motorcycle: it’s good, but not great. Melee combat was surprisingly enjoyable because of the cool animations and camera angles during it, but shooting in Days Gone always felt like I was fighting with the game. Deacon has the ability to slow down time while aiming down sight known as ‘focus’ and I’d probably miss 75% of my shots without it because aiming in this game just feels off. Even when shooting a couple of Freakers walking towards me, I would keep missing shots until I regenerated my focus bar and would be able to use it again. Granted I was going for headshots because it’s a zomb-I mean, Freaker game and would probably hit them if I was using an assault rifle, but I should be able to use whichever gun I want and the single-fire weapons I used were mainly effective to the head of these so-called Freakers.

For a game about these infected Freakers, I haven’t spent much time on them and that’s mainly because the game itself doesn’t really spend too much time on them until the last quarter. There are multiple types of infected beings in Days Gone with Freakers being the main one, but as the game progresses, more challenging infected beings appear providing a much-needed challenge from the mindless Freakers you see throughout. The big selling point for this game was the horde of Freakers that chase you throughout the open-world in a World War Z-esque style as they climb all over each other to get to you, but this doesn’t really become part of the game until the last quarter either.

You can see hordes from the get-go, but you’re unable to actually take them on until the final moments of the campaign because you don’t receive the tools to fight them until then. This alone is such a bizarre decision because it isn’t until about hour 30 of the game where the big draw for most people is included in the gameplay. Once it is included, it is when Days Gone is at its best because taking on hordes is some of the most fun I had playing this game. Getting chased by that many Freakers at once is legitimately terrifying and if you don’t go in with a plan of attack, set traps and follow through with said plan, you probably won’t make it out alive. Once you get the tools, the horde locations appear on the map and there are a lot of them, but I don’t think I’ll be going back to clear them because I was in that world long enough as it is that I just wanted out by the end of the story.

Despite being in the world longer than I would have liked, the open-world of Days Gone is really quite beautiful, and in this aspect, it lives up to the other PlayStation exclusives that we have seen in recent years. The lush, green scenery of the forest you see throughout this gorgeous world is one of my favourite parts of this game. Each location has a ton of stuff to loot such as crafting materials and scraps, which can be used to repair your bike and/or your melee weapon. There are also NERO checkpoints – the government-like authority of Days Gone – you can find to enhance your choice of stamina, health or focus bar. You also gain skill points throughout as you level up, but none of them change the gameplay, they mainly extend the time for things you can already do.

There are a few issues with the beautiful open-world of Days Gone though, one of them being performance. There are constant frame drops throughout the game along with a few freeze frames, but these happened mostly in the later portion of the game and most of the time it was during a horde battle. I also get one bug where my audio completely dropped for my motorcycle and it required a hard restart of the game to get it back. The game has been getting constant patches since release, so these problems will probably be fixed in the foreseeable future.

Regardless of how pretty the world of Days Gone is to look at, it’s a game that tried too much and truly suffered from it. The story drags on, the writing for characters is so inconsistent it becomes infuriating, the entire camp system adds more bloat to the game and nothing really feels as good as it should. The main selling point of the game, the hordes, don’t even truly matter until 30 hours into the already lengthy 40-hour game which alone is a huge misstep regardless of how enjoyable they may be when they finally appear. I know there is a solid 10 to 15-hour game within Days Gone, but there is too much unnecessary stuff that has been piled onto it that makes it a forgettable and unenjoyable experience.

6.00/10 6

Days Gone (Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro)

Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.

Regardless of how pretty the world of Days Gone is to look at, it’s a game that tried too much and truly suffered from it. The story drags on, the writing for characters is so inconsistent it becomes infuriating, the entire camp system adds more bloat to the game and nothing really feels as good as it should. The main selling point of the game, the hordes, don’t even truly matter until 30 hours into the already lengthy 40-hour game which alone is a huge misstep regardless of how enjoyable they may be when they finally appear. I know there is a solid 10 to 15-hour game within Days Gone, but there is too much unnecessary stuff that has been piled onto it that makes it a forgettable and unenjoyable experience.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Richard Shivdarsan

Richard Shivdarsan

Staff Writer

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