We are finally here with highly anticipated Days Gone Review. Days Gone was one of the most memorable games of E3 2016 with its thrilling gameplay video, which our hero opened fire against a massive zombie herd chasing him. This new member of the ‘’zombie’’ games also became one of the most popular names of recent years and created excitement among gamer community with every trailer and information shared. And after 3 years of waiting, Days Gone is ready to meet the gaming fans.
Days Gone Review
My experience with this game was quite a journey. I escaped the crowds of zombies, tried to survive alone in the dark and uncovered the mystery of Deacon St. John‘s tale at the end of a 30-hour gameplay period. So how was the experience of Days Gone? Let’s take a look together.
First of all, I have mentioned Days Gone as a zombie game, but actually it is not. It is rather a freak/creature game. So, in the game, we call these creatures ‘’freaks’’, not zombies. Why the developer company wanted to make this choice? It is hidden in the story. Therefore, I’m going to pass this subject and jump into the story of the game. Days Gone’s tale takes place in the state of Oregon, where is covered with forests, greenery, wildlife and natural beauties. The map of the game features forests, small towns between the woods, waterfalls, streams, long highways between regions, mountains and tunnels; separated from city life.
Our main character is Deacon St. John, a native of Oregon who knows the region very well and a member of a biker gang. On the other hand, Deacon’s bellowed wife Sarah is a biologist. The game starts with a trailer which Deacon puts her wife on a helicopter to protect her from the invasion of freaks. Deacon decides to stay with his injured friend Boozer, who is a member of Mongrel Motorcycle Club, instead of joining his wife. So, in the beginning, players get no information about the roots of the invasion, where it came from and how these creatures infested the world. The story starts on this foundation and later on reveals other details about characters and events.
This helicopter scene and entrance could make you feel like you have missed the beginning of the trailer, or if you have missed something. However, you get the feeling of disconnection in storytelling and cutscene transitions regularly during the game. You can observe this in many different scenes as you play the game.
Although Days Gone starts with Deacon and Boozer, other characters are also involved in the story. Since it will be so hard to survive two people, Deacon is forced to do business for other camps and people that are trying to survive, even if he is unwilling about the situation. Therefore, the basis of the game’s mission structure is based on these camps and tasks we get from other characters. At first you start working for two different camps. After that, the number of camps and the size of the map increase with the addition of new characters. In the first 10 hours of the game, I wondered if the map size a bit small. But after the emergence of new camps and new characters, the map started to grow larger to the south and became big enough for such a game.
Each camp has its own way of surviving and dealing with the freak infestation. And as we take missions from these camps, we discover the dangerous world of Days Gone. You are doing tasks such as cleaning the freak nests, chasing people who stole stuff from the camp, saving hostages and eliminate the members of a dangerous cult called Rest In Peace Cult, or Rippers.
Days Gone’s main story and side story tasks are intertwined. As a result of your tasks, the trust level of the camp you are working on is increasing and you are earning camp credits (CC), which are only valid at that camp. You can spend this currency on different options such as engine enhancements, new weapons, equipment, fuel, engine maintenance. You need higher trust level of camps to open new features. For instance, to get a high-level fuel tank, your trust level in that camp needs to be level 2. This means that you have to do the tasks for each camp, like cleaning nests or going on hunts. Yeah, there’s a hunting mechanics in the game that’s not so detailed.
In order to increase the confidence level of a camp, you need to hunt animals such as deer, gazelle or more and bring their skins to the camp. It’s hard to say these animals possess a decent artificial intelligence though. To win the confidence of the camps, to open up weapons and equipment development, we have to jump on our bike and make a continuous expedition in the Oregon’s eerie environment. I said ‘’eerie’’ because it’s what Days Gone does best. The atmosphere of the game really makes you feel insecure. Especially in the first hours of the game, you can even shudder from a twitching tree branch.
Sony Bend Studio, the producer of PlayStation 1’s legendary game Syphon Filter, has done a great job. The post-apocalyptic atmosphere of the game is truly incredible. The ruined bridges, wrecked, abandoned and infested towns, highways where wilderness began to take over, tunnels closed by ruined cars… Countless little things that form this detailed world. It is fun to explore the towns, ride your bike in the fog between the screams of freaks or enter a ruined house to search for resources. You overcome this tense feeling as you play, however you always feel that you should be on alert. So, like a real survivor, you learn to control your stress over time.
Not losing control and making the right decision is an important factor in Days Gone. It can be very dangerous when you need to handle more than 3 freaks at the same time. When the freaks start to circle you, it’s hard to find a place to escape. Not to mention the enormous herds. If you see one of these herds, the best option is to leave that place as soon as possible because it’s almost impossible to deal with these pack of vicious creatures. Especially if you don’t have the equipment and enough health. The strategy is usually to catch the freaks one by one, from behind, to sneak up and kill them. In close combat you can easily kill the freaks with spiked bats or fireman axe, but when the numbers increase, this can be quite difficult.
Especially close combat dynamics of the game is quite enjoyable. There are many different melee weapons. You can make some melee weapons and upgrade them with resources, like nails you find around. When you develop your close combat skills by using talent points, you can do longer combos, make stronger impacts and unlock extra close combat features. However, the impact feeling of ranged weapons is a little bit above the average and not as enjoyable as melee weapons.
On the other hand, the AI of enemies is not so clever and most of the time it allows players to just run toward enemies and kill them easily in combats. I can say that in this sense, Days Gone is quite weak. Also, I wish there was no human enemies in the game. Because the frightening feeling of freaks does not apply for human enemies.
One of the best features of Days Gone is the motorcycle mechanics. The producer company has done a really good job with it. The motorcycle control feels heavy and well-settled. Actually, in the beginning of the game I had hard time to control the bike but in time I got used to it and handle it better. As you develop your motorcycle, you feel the benefits of the improvements you have made in terms of durability and performance. Especially the fuel tank upgrades are critical because your bike runs out of fuel. Suddenly you can find yourself in the middle of the wild without a ride. This also adds more excitement to the game as you try to find gas canisters in abandoned vehicles or abandoned gas stations. You can make fast travels to camps and certain points called ‘’Nero Camps’’, but this feature also consumes your fuel. So, fuel saving is an important part of the game and makes it more realistic.
Another operational dynamic of Days Gone is to explore and collect resources. It is quite fun and stressful to explore towns full of freaks to find health bags, bandages, ammunition, nails and equipment. Nero, an organization like the Umbrella Corp in the Resident Evil series, has some camps in the game. When you capture these camps, they provide health upgrades, focus in combats that makes you slow time, or gaining syringes that provides durability enhancement. You need to solve mini puzzles to take over the camps. Sometimes you are looking for gasoline to run the generator that has run out of gas and sometimes you’re looking for a switch to turn on the power. But before doing all of this, it is necessary to disrupt the speakers in the camps. Otherwise, when electricity comes, a freak herd can attack to the camp. I can also say that this Nero camp mechanics brings a variety and extra difficulty to the gameplay.
The stealth feature takes a significant place in Days Gone. You need to do a lot of tasks in stealth, especially the Nero helicopter missions. However, it is quite difficult to say stealth works properly in the game. It is basically based on crouching between bushes or throwing rocks to attract enemies. In the same way, the simple conflict mechanics such as taking cover and firing could be done better too.
So, in general, that’s how Days Gone works; help the camps, kill the freaks, look for resources. I can say that the gameplay mechanics work well, even though there are some shortcomings. Also, Days Gone is a good-looking game too. Just like many of PS4 exclusive games, you can see the high graphic quality in this game. Lightning, day and night cycle and detailed design of towns and wildlife look quite unique, also characters look realistic in cutscenes. Especially you can observe that the developers have worked hard on Deacon’s design and implement Sam Witwer’s facial impressions and features into game as Deacon. Although the animations of freaks seem to be realistic and frightening, it is difficult to say the same things for human foes. Generally, human enemies look like each other and repeating the same movements.
Along with the good gameplay mechanics and the beautiful looking world, Days Gone is unfortunately weak about storytelling. You can feel the gap between the main story and the tasks you do. It is also the same for mission transitions and cutscenes. Especially the loading screens between the cutscenes might disturb some players. There is a non-fluent storytelling in the game. For example, you take a long walk with a character and after boring dialogues, suddenly a cutscenes appears. After the cutscenes, a little bit more walking around and another cutscene… In general, the game has a boring and slow storytelling. As if the developers added cutscenes and dialogues after they created the environment and other mechanics in the game. Rockstar has a nice touch in the GTA series and finally in Red Dead Redemption 2 with the cutscenes that make you feel connected to the game. If a similar method was applied in Days Gone, perhaps storytelling could become a little more fluid. In addition, some missions feel boring and too long. Throughout the game, we do not find another important question rather than ‘’what happened to Deacon’s wife?’’ or ‘’where does these creatures come from?’’. For this reason, the tasks we get from camps and various characters feel so dull.
Last but not least, what is my general impression of Days Gone? During the hours I played Days Gone, I thought that if Sony Bend Studio had more time to develop this game, it could be something way better than this product, even one of the best games of this generation. The zombie infestation atmosphere is well-established with good mechanics, without any technical problems. Days Gone is a game that has reached the level of graphics of PS4 exclusive games. However, it is a game that also has deficiencies. If Sony Bend Studio builds the second game on this base and fix the flaws of the first game, the second installment can be a breakthrough. Days Gone is a nice meal but lacks a bit of salt.