Release Date: April 26, 2019
Developers: SIE Bend Studios
Publishers: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Gaming Platform: PlayStation 4
Rated M for Mature
Open-world zombie games often have something quaint about them. Okay, maybe not all of them but a considerable amount. Many indie developers about a decade ago loved trying to make it big using this gaming niche. Project Zomboid, Day Z, State Of Decay and such, remember? Even mainstream hit titles the likes of Red Dead Redemption and Call Of Duty started getting in on all that zombie action. Anyway, we found that there’s actually a Spartan logic to all this because zombies, Days Gone included, give developers a way to basically justify not having AI programming. With that said, there’s still no denying the fact that many gamers the world over still fantasize about the perfect zombie video game.
Many have zombie survival plans mapped out in their heads and having the ability to see them brought to reality via gaming platforms would be like when Pablo Escobar discovered how to transport his merchandise to the US. Life-changing. But wait, before you get super excited and all there’s a disclaimer. Sadly, Days Gone is not this kind of game even though a lot of people thought it might. E3 2016 is when it was first announced and the reveal trailer that was shown to the public promised electrifying dual battles between a biker boy and massive swarms of zombie hordes. It was that type of badass action that was reserved to describe men that had fought bears in real life and won. Yeah, that epic. Unfortunately, we don’t see this in the final game.
Truth is, this game really isn’t what many thought it’d be, however, that still didn’t stop us from gaming it and giving our two cents about it. As always, we have to keep you fully up to date with everything gaming and being it was a top open-world game of the year we just had to review it.
How Days Gone Looks?
Days Gone is a familiar blend mano-a-mano combat, stealth through enemy campsites, crafting and upgrades mixed with that occasional bout of having to run away from a horde of zombies. This post-viral outbreak realm is part Last Of Us, part Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and part Far Cry 5. It weaves its mechanics into gaming experiences that are very entertaining even though they’re really not that original. A solid progression system has been integrated into the game where you complete missions and jobs to earn the trust with different survivor settlements, crafting recipes, unlocking gear, weapons, and skills. That is the core. In the game, you’re a working-to-liver biker/drifter looking to develop community ties as well as sow roots that’ll help give you something to both life and fight for.
As a player, you’ll change from being a cautious and opportunistic survivor to a grizzled world-beating professional with the smarts you continuously pick up along the journey. The main creatures aside from the other human survivors are known as Freakers, a mutated person infected by a virus that’s rabies-like. Early on in the game even facing one of those monsters is something to fear. You do not have the expertise nor the weapons to effectively take one on, and if like three or four catches your scent then you can probably consider that game over. This is why you’ll spend your time creeping cautiously around forests surviving on stealth skills in the beginning. But don’t fret, later on, in the game, you’ll have gathered the tools and skills you need to take on hordes of them.
How It Plays
The combat in this game is not anything revolutionary. However, where it needs to it works. Open world games often fall prey to mechanics that can be easily abused. Sniping uncounterable, stealth too forgiving, one too many tiger’s etcetera. To its credit, this title has no one tactic that clearly overpowers the rest. It has a cool mix of dodging, gunplay, cover, and stealth, each of which is useful in different scenarios. There is also a nice mix of rifles, pistols, machine guns and shotguns at your disposal, but again, nothing revolutionary. The combat, overall, works in service of delivering tense fight scenes against hordes of Freakers and camps of raiders alike.
In Days Gone, melee attacks, in particular, are a bloody and weighty blast. The crafting systems they’ve used in this game are based on objects you find being combined with other odd found objects to create a gruesome weapon. In fact, there’s a crunchy satisfaction you’ll get when you combine a saw blade and a baseball bat and then use that tool to kill an enemy in one single swing. Some people may even find themselves spending quite a large amount of their time crafting the perfect weapon that can be used to annihilate their enemies in single shots.
‘The Hordes’… Epic
Of course, your only threat won’t be humans, it’s a zombie apocalypse. This world is riddled with Freakers that come in a wide variety of speeds and sizes. But, what you’ll often encounter most of the time are your garden variety zombies that can usually be dealt with swiftly by the thwack of your axe or a headshot if split from its pack. Hordes, however, are a whole different story. In fact, fighting such battles help create some of the most thrilling moments of the game. Usually located in elaborate geographical, squared-off areas, these gigantic, over a hundred deep writhing masses of grasping limbs and gnashing teeth are easily the biggest technical achievement Sony Bend made.
These hordes operate consistently as single-minded entities as they pursue you relentlessly. You’ll often have to take them out by employing some familiarity of your surrounding as well as using some degree of strategy. All your horde encounters will probably be a sprint for your survival. Even when you happen to be picking the best gear and are at a high level of expertise, hordes are always terrifying and daunting in equal measure. The sight of them never really gets old.
The huge Days Gone map opens up as you play along and clearer purposes begin to slowly develop as well. It kind of like when TV series needs to reach the second season before it shows any kind of direction when you come to think about it. As you discover new places the narrative gets better tied together, weightier and a plot slowly starts to develop. The game in the middle to the end produces some interesting, likable antagonists and characters that sow enough seed to elicit some emotional investment returns. However, you don’t really settle on a ‘main’ agenda until the very end which is kind of a bit of a bummer. A well thought out storyline could’ve made Days Gone so much better.
Though Deacon himself is kind of a conflicting character so to speak, he’s funny and likable for the most part as he interacts and quips with the supporting cast. Sam Witer’s performance from time to time really comes through with an easy-going charm. But, Deacon in nature is prone to bouts of unrepentant and callous hatred, outright brutality and murderous aggression that can put a dent in the light moments. This is in large part because the story structure can switch on a dime. It sometimes even feels like someone is playing a prank and has switched channels on you. It’s that unpredictable. Guess that can be deemed a good thing by some depending on how you look at it.
The overall game kind of feels a bit bloated. It’s like that movie or series that goes on way longer than it should’ve or needed to. It’s confusing and a bit messy. Nevertheless, it’s still peppered with genuine thrilling encounters that entail you being chased down by zombie hordes as well as that occasional breathless firefight. Saying it’s a bad game is a bit too harsh so we won’t, however, that doesn’t mean the developers at Sony couldn’t have done so much better with this idea. Everyone had really high hopes for this title, but honestly, it failed to live up to expectation. With that being said, we still believe it’s a pretty awesome game and one that’s certainly worth being checked out for yourself. It may not be the best but it’s good enough.