When it was first announced, Days Gone flew under my radar as another generic zombie horde open-world shooter. If I am completely honest with you, that’s the truth. Today we will forego the usual format in favour of just talking about the game, so let’s start!
So, even though this goes against what I just said, we do need to talk about the driving factor in this game, the story. You are Deacon St. John, nomad member of the Mongrels MC. Days Gone spends no time on backstory and throws you straight into ‘the shit‘. You, a close friend (Boozer) and your wife (Sarah) are trying to leave the city. Sarah has been stabbed and youse make your way to a roof where a helicopter is primed to leave. You meet the NERO intern O’Brian who takes your wife to a checkpoint. It’s been three years since that night.
The checkpoint was overrun and Sarah presumed dead. Deacon & Boozer are drifters. People hired by survival camps to run odd jobs and hunt bounties – whilst not particularly tied to any camp, relationships between some camps can be strained. Whilst out doing a run, Boozer gets attacked by a gang of survivors known as Rippers as has a tattoo burned off with a blowtorch. Deacon goes about as is and sees a NERO chopper, after following it he soon comes back into contact with O’Brian and is looking for answers.
Deacon is now on the hunt for his wife and answers as he is adamant she is still alive.
Well, here is the issue: the story is gripping. Predicable as all hell, but gripping. Tangible stakes and a clear motive. But it moves at a snails pace. It’s more than a slow burner. In the middle of progress you find yourself with story missions that are fluff. Help restore power for a camp by getting the hydro-power dam fixed, after you run four other mandatory storylines.
Obviously there would be other “pressing” matters, but restoring a junction box half a mile up the road is easier than driving four miles to steal some medical supplies. Given that one of these takes five minutes and the other about an hour… why not just fuse them together? Do the junction box, get the meds, go back to the camp. Petrol is expensive and yo-yoing back and forth between the same camp for these two jobs, bit of a fucking waste in my opinion. It’s literally padding.
Now, Days Gone does do some good things too, these are obviously upset with what could have been great features if they existed. You can send people to camps, each with their own perks (Trust & Credits), but there’s the obvious bad choices that a karma system of such could aid. The Hot Springs camp is an example: It’s literally slavery. It’s the obvious bad choice out of the two you initially have. The only upside is that it has better guns, but that’s trust level two. You don’t get trust by sending people to that camp so it’s utterly pointless!
Yes, Days Gone for anyone living under a rock was a PS4 exclusive for a time. For an exclusive though, it lacks some of that top tier polish. The graphics are good but with a bit of pop-in that I can forgive, but the voice acting? Deacon talks to crowds like they’re all huddled up close, in actuality, they are shouting over him as he talks! They miraculously hear him every time even when we (the player) can’t. Another big point I made all throughout my playthrough is that Deacon is clearly unstable as a person.
He stutters and stammers through a normal conversation whilst having issues showing any emotion to his friends and wife, but just you start killing the freaks. He’s angry – always. No stutters, no stammers, he’s clearly taking some sick joy out of killing them. This is also the same when taking out rival gangs. He clearly enjoys the bloodshed but nobody ever brings it up. Feels like shoddy writing to me or a missed oppertunity.
For an exclusive title published by a first-party developer, the game should show off the best of the console it is on. Look at all the nice graphics and how well we can write, buy this console! Yes whilst the game is flashy, everything else is flimsy. This to me makes the game overall average. This is just a rehash of grounds trodden prior. Open world zombie horde survival: Dead Rising. “I need to find my lost loved one” – Fallout 3, Fallout 4… The Forest. For fucks sake – Been there, done that! The only original thing in this game is the Motorbike aspect.
BUT YOU LIKED IT!
Indeed I did. Despite all the body blows I have just delivered, I enjoyed this game. When it’s not going at a snail’s pace and if you can ignore the glaring issues in writing, it’s good. It’s slower than a week in the jail but good. The good thing about such clichèd gameplay and story is that you can bolster it to a new height. Four separate endings is a good start, three of them after the main ending is a power move, credits roll and you’ve lost about 50% of the players. Constantly flirting a line to the point of frustration? I could claw your eyes out.
The horde mechanic was also a great treat. There are specific places to find hordes and you can’t just kill a horde from the get-go. You build up to them. You soon start to avoid specific places just to avoid the horde, why? A horde will kill you quicker than you blink if they corner you. Atop this, learning about the horde and the freaks whilst playing Days Gone makes it interesting. The shady government group studying the virus and leaving recorders about gives a great insight into just how prepared they were. The world-building is great, shame about the everything else.
I recommend buying this game if you have a good fifty hours to kill. Yes, it’s boringly mediocre in almost every aspect, but the story has some polish that keeps you going, and if nothing else… it sure does look pretty. I only ever encountered one bug that required a hard restart of the game, but my brother (who recommended the game to me) encountered this too so surely the devs must know about it.