Review – Days Gone
Days Gone pits the player against a harsh post-zombie apocalypse world…think The Walking Dead, but almost everyone, including the main character, is Daryl Dixon from the first season – the leather wearing, motorcycle riding, don’t-need-nobody antihero version.
There are no zombies here though, with gamers – as Deacon St. John – putting down hordes of ‘Freakers’ while exploring the open world. There’s also not much of a supporting cast, with the game relying heavily on players identifying with Deacon, who is basically as unlikable of a character as he can possibly be for the first 20-odd hours of the game, or his friend Boozer who doesn’t fare much better.
The opening 10-odd hours of the game are heavy on stealth, with Deacon not possessing the tools or knowledge to take down more than a few zombies Freakers at a time. Once you unlock traps it’s not quite so necessary to sneak in and one-hit kill as many as possible before going loud, but you’re still best to stick to 10-15 Freakers at a time and avoid the massive hordes with a few hundred zombies in them.
Alert one of those large hordes and you’d think the game would turn into a terrifying run for your life, but instead it’s a bumbling run through the environment being chased by things that can’t quite catch you, leading them over ledges that slow them down or cause pathing problems that leave them ‘chasing’ you in another direction. Later, when you have access to more weapons and a better handle on the traps, these fights offer a distraction from the rest of the game, but they’re few and far between.
After playing through the game’s 40-odd hours, I’m on the fence about it. It’s not bad, but it’s certainly not great either. It has some high points – particularly the graphics when it gets a bit foggy and everything comes together, but also some real lows – performance issues are a major one, even on a PS4 Pro. The game has been patched multiple times since it become available to reviewers about three weeks ago, but it’s still nowhere near solid – and considerably worse on a base PS4. After the game was delayed for six months to polish it, I’m surprised to see it launch in this kind of shape.
The story also never really comes together. It feels like they didn’t know whether they wanted to make a pure ‘apocalypse survival’ game with emergent gameplay and no story, or a narrative heavy experience and had to cut bits out. There’s clearly some missing story elements here and there, but perhaps those are gaps they’ll fill with DLC down the road.