There was a lot of speculation going into Days Gone. Where some trailers showed off deep or thrilling gameplay segments, we’re at a point where only so much can be determined by such videos. However, given Bend’s history, there were plenty of reasons to have faith in the little title. Now that it is in players’ hands, is it a title worth owning or is it just as dead as the creatures you kill?
Days Gone starts with a rather cliché cutscene. You’re part of a group, you make a heroic gesture and that choice determines a number of things going forward. From there, the story picks up a couple years later with Deacon dealing with the aftermath, leading to a story of survival.
Even if there are moments where the story starts to shine, a lot of it is perfunctory time filler. Boozer, your best friend and comrade, does something stupid and you need to correct it or something requires your attention and so you start exploring this place or obtaining that thing. Sure, it never achieves any level of bad, it just fails to stand out. It’s enough to make it worth the ride, especially for some of the twists, just don’t expect too much from it.
Similar things can be said about gameplay. There is a general sense of generic zombie game throughout Days Gone. With a world arguably larger than it ever really needs to be, the typical cycle is going to a place, finding resources, using those resources to obtain more resources and repeat.
Where Days Gone tries to expand on the experience is giving players something to do with resources or giving the world a lived in feeling. Between resources, ammo and weapons, the ability to interact with so many elements allows the world to feel alive. This also holds true for the various types of Freakers, what the game calls the zombies, which are far more than straight aggressive enemies. Some will hide and pounce, others will cause bigger problems and others are a problem in it of itself. The trick to surviving isn’t just collecting every resource, it’s playing smart.
Stealth mechanics allow Deacon to progress without any conflict. Other times using the world around you or crafting something with the items you found, can vastly change the landscape. By simply burning a nest or trapping a group of Freakers is a great way to minimize issues. But, like a lot of things, sometimes the best tactic is to simply avoid problems in the first place.
Occasionally threats can be ignored, it’s just when quests require you to go to a specific spot or obtain a certain item that they become an issue. This can be a rather annoying struggle, given it all plays into a more general sameness. There are only so many times you can do the same things, much less repeat endless supply runs and have fun.
Outside of more tactical moves are run and gun approaches. As someone who has played a lot of shooters, it’s hard to be impressed by the controls in Days Gone. Things tend to be a bit more on the stiff side and it can be surprisingly difficult to hit close range enemies. Similar things can be said for the stealth mechanics. All the controls are there, it just doesn’t flow in the same way Uncharted, Souls series or a variety of other games do.
This also plays into the motorcycle controls. While it’s more than enough to get from point A to B, it takes a bit longer than you’d think to get use to them and more than a few upgrades before they hit a point where they’d be considered good. Thankfully, they do achieve this at some point, just not enough to stand out in the grand scheme of things.
Regardless of how a lot of general things work, Days Gone puts a fair amount of thought into the smaller things. There are a lot of traps that will work against you, breaking item places or things has a fair amount of charm and the way some of the environments work is nothing short of amazing. A lot of people might not notice the make shift silencer starting without a hole and gaining one after the first shot but those who do get a little more from the overall experience.
This also holds true for the look. There is just enough movement, flow and dynamic elements to make the world fascinating. Sometimes it’s a shame it’s used in a largely hollow environment, a common problem for larger games but just driving gets you a sense of immersion in the woodland area.
The best way to describe Days Gone is good but not great. There is arguably nothing that hits a point where you absolutely must see it, something Horizon, God of War and a few other exclusives have, leading to a mixed reaction. Even if I come off rather critical of a number of elements, it’s the type of game where I might not tell people it’s a can’t miss experience, though it never hits the point where I’d actively discourage anyone from bothering. So, if you’re okay with a good game that has hints of something better or simply enjoy the genre, give it a go.
[Editor’s Note: Days Gone was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]