I’ll be honest when I note that I didn’t have the highest of expectations going into Days Gone. It always looked appealing due to the zombies, but I wasn’t sure it was anything special when I first saw it at previous E3 events. This was largely due to it looking like just another zombie game to me.
I am happy to note that the game does have some special elements to it and certainly surprised me in ways I didn’t anticipate. This is a narrative driven open world zombie survival game. It focuses on the story, while having light elements of survival mixed into it.
You play as Deacon, you ride a motorcycle and venture around with your long time friend. You have feelings of pain after the loss of a loved one during the great incident and these thoughts are shown through certain flashback moments. The cinematic elements are a main focus here and visually they’re a quality element.
I did however find the cinematics to be somewhat awkward at times in terms of the animation quality and that they had some repetitive elements to them over the course of the main story. The core narrative is alright, though again with that theme of repetition it has you doing what feels like the same thing multiple times. The story could have been a bit better as well.
Luckily it’s a wealthy world in terms of content and there are many side quests to take part in. These will take you all across the fairly large world as you meet unique survivors, explore new towns or deal with the awful bad factions that have popped up. You might also need to deal with some nasty swarms, or strong outposts that exist.
There’s a bit of mystery to this story as well and I won’t spoil those elements, but it’s got a sense of chase in here. I wasn’t necessarily hooked into what was being shown story wise, but did find it to be intriguing at times. I also liked the sense of this being a world that was trying to move on with fresh settlements.
This is a third person experience where you’re either actively battling enemies on foot, or driving around on a motorcycle. You get to start with a really crazy one, but you’ll end up needing to work towards that again. This is a neat sense of progression as you build it up. That being said, I found the motorcycle ever so tedious.
You constantly need to fill it with gas and it’s just distracting really. You have to go out of your way to find gas and fill the tank, even with upgrades I always felt it was running out. On top of that, you can’t fast travel unless you clean out side enemies. This was an annoyance and really leaned into a sort of boring element of tedious gameplay. I wanted to get to places, I was sadly not overly taken by the world.
That world is however gorgeous, with very impressive levels of density. I loved how every single building had unique destruction and garbage to make it feel as though it told a story. That being said, there were performance issues I witnessed and some bugs that popped up while playing. They didn’t necessarily hinder the experience, but it didn’t quite have the polish I expect from a first party Playstation 4 title, especially at this late point in the generation.
As mentioned prior, the quests can be repetitive. A lot of it is clearing out enemies, driving to the same places or chasing helicopters. One mission was just weird, you drive on a road to then turn around and drive back. There’s a sense of crafting in this, but it’s quite light. That being said, it was very smooth to use and I really enjoyed their quick selection wheel. The menu was also neat being a sort of touch setup, I will note that audio logs play through the controller.
To build on that element of audio, the segments where Deacon responds to the radio was somewhat cringe inducing in how it sounds. One element that truly blew me away here were the zombies, very dynamic. They individually felt like a threat and once you saw them gather into massive hordes it was actually scary.
In other zombie games I’m typically calm, but I felt a pressure here. They can over run you fast, and they are individually powerful. They work as a nasty swarm, packing a punch and providing fear as you try to deal with them while watching your stamina bar. Furthering the discussion on mechanics, I honestly felt the bike could have had better handling. I get that it improves as you gain access to enhanced parts, but it still felt slightly awkward for me at times.
Days Gone is a generally solid experience that could have used a bit more polish. I did enjoy playing it for the most part, but some elements of the game do make it feel a bit tedious to play. It can be slow, I hated looking for gas and at other times the repetitive setup made it harder to power through. I’m sure you’ll get quality time out of this if you find the concept appealing, but it’s not exactly a perfect time.
There are some issues that are present that hold it back from achieving greatness. I recall fond moments of being just absolutely in shock from the zombies, those are the elements that could have more of a focus. I felt a sense of pressure from those swarms as I desperately moved for cover or just to get my balance pack. You have to be clever in those situations and I think in that regard, it nails the zombie genre in a new way.
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Days Gone Review on Playstation 4
Review Code Provided by SIEC