In recent years, Sony has been hitting it out of the park with their PlayStation 4 exclusives, game after game including the likes of Horizon Zero Dawn, Bloodborne, God of War, Spider-Man and more have been hitting high critical acclaim.  So here comes Days Gone, from Bend Studio, the house that brought us the Syphon Filter series, as well as a couple of Uncharted spin-offs.  So despite them coming in with a high degree of pedigree, I was still optimistically cautious about Days Gone, because surely, Sony’s gas would eventually run out?  Well as it happens, Days Gone might not hit the critically heights of Sony’s other exclusives, but Days Gone has surprised me by how much I found myself to be immersed in its post-apocalyptic world that left me churning for more, whenever I put down the controller.

The story of Days Gone follows a familiar tale of a post-apocalyptic world following a virus outbreak turning the human population into hordes of blood-thirsty monsters.  At first assumption, you would be forgiven in thinking that these monsters known as “Freakers” to be your run of the mill zombies.  However, these are no mere zombies, as they do not appear to be undead and despite their ravenous nature, they unnervingly retain some human instincts, such as grouping and working together, as well as having certain day/night life cycles.  In many ways, despite their appearance, they remind me more of the Clickers from The Last of Us.  Yet these Freakers often hunt in packs and are far more aggressive in their approach.

Our main protagonist, Deacon St. John and his close friend Boozer, before all this shit went down, were members of a biker gang brotherhood, but are now the only two remaining members, and with Deacon mourning the loss of a loved one, they must fight, claw and scrap in order to not only survive, but also find a better place, if such place even exists.   Unfortunately for them, in order to survive, they must also at times rely, but also work with some quite unsavoury characters and if they are ever going to discover the truth behind the outbreak.  But how deep are Deacon and Boozer prepared to delve deeper into the rabbit hole in order to discover the truth?

In terms of gameplay, there’s nothing that is really all that unique about Days Gone, but that’s not a knock as it does what it does, and it does it well.  The open-world is fairly large, but not the largest and that’s ok, because sometimes I don’t want an oversized world littered with mundane tasks that exist for the sole purpose of stretching out the campaign.  The map of Days Gone is about the right size, it’s not overbearing and the activities exist alongside the main missions, have a genuine purpose instead of being just filler.  You’ll have you main story missions, side story missions that add genuine layers to the story campaign, and then you’ll have missions that help you build up trust with some of the camps that you will align with.  While these camps will have some story progression, they will mainly exist for you to complete bounties or turn in resources.  The more tasks you complete, the more trust you’ll earn and as a result, more missions will become available and so too will items at their designated vendors from weapons, ammo and items to upgrade your motorcycle.

Speaking of your motorcycle, this will arguably be your most important possession in the game.  Pretty much from start to finish, you will have the same motorcycle.  Taking care of you motorcycle is of the utmost importance as not only will you be able to upgrade it, but you’ll also have to maintain good care of it too.  Falling from heights, crashing into walls or running through Freakers will of course do some damage.  So with the scraps you’ll find throughout the world, you’ll be able to fix your motorcycle on the go and the mechanic at the camps will also be able to fix it, as well as upgrades, cosmetics and topping up your fuel.

Keeping track of your fuel is vitally important, because without it, you’ll be participating in a lot of cross-country walks.  Thankfully, as long as you know where to look, whether it be fuel containers or petrol stations, you should be able to keep on top of things.  You can also upgrade your fuel tank at the mechanic vendor, so I would advise doing so as soon as you can, because it will save a lot of hassle.  It’s worth noting that you can fast-travel in Days Gone, but you’ll still need the right amount of fuel in the tank to teleport to certain locations on the map.  You’ll only be able to fast-travel to locations such as your home base with Boozer, as well as abandoned government, bandit camps and so forth.

The abandoned government camps will often be populated with Freakers and the bandits will be full of non infected human enemies.  However, while you can rush in and go all John Rambo to clear out the camps, I would advise using stealth as your strategy.  This in the most part should ensure that enemies do not swarm to your known location, which will make things extremely difficult.  The human enemies might not be so much of a problem, as long as you’re smart in the gun fight, but if a swarm of Freakers are charging towards you, unless you can make a quick getaway on your motorcycle, you’re as good as dead.

This brings me on to the impressive number of Freakers on-screen looking to tear you from limb to limb, which provides a high level of tension and dread that not many “zombie” games can in my opinion.  It’s even more impressive when you consider that game suffers no slow-down during these tense moments, at least on the PS4 Pro.  It really is a sight to behold seeing these huge and frantic swarms charging towards you.  Also, while the Freakers can easily overwhelm you, you can reduce some of their numbers in certain areas of the map by clearing out one of the many nests, once exterminated, it can make things a little easier for you in that particular area.

As you progress further into the game, you’ll earn XP and as you earn XP, you’ll be rewarded with Skill Points.  The Skill Points are split into three main categories, Melee, Ranged and Survival.  Spending Skill Points on each of the categories will increase skills such as your effectiveness in melee and firearm combat, while Survival will help with resource management, crafting, and you survival instinct vision, and more.  The latter two elements you will be relying on a lot, as you use resources to craft health packs, explosives, items to help distract Freakers, enhanced weapons such as spiked baseball bats, as well as being able to repair some melee weapons.  Your survival instinct/vision is very similar to that of The Last of Us, which will be used to highlight items of interest, enemies and can also be used for tracking.

All in all, I wasn’t expecting all that much from Days Gone, so I was very happy to find that it had exceeded my expectations and not only that, it’s actually a very good game, which improves the longer you stay with it.  The storyline might be a little generic, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not good, it also helps that the story is supported by, a good soundtrack and well performed voice-cast.  The world and resource management isn’t too overbearing, the combat is competent, the visuals are impressive and the Freakers provide tension to a level that I’ve probably not quite  experienced in a game of this type.  Sure this probably won’t be winning any Game of the Year Awards, but don’t go writing it off as just another zombie game.  Because if you give this game a chance, you might just find that Days Gone is one of the most enjoyable and intense games you’ll play this year.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake and you can check out my Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/solidus5nake