The following review was originally posted on our sister site, Northern Reviewer.
Played on the base model PS4.
Before you read this review, I would like to address some of the concerns you might have about this game after having seen some of the more unfavourable reviews out there. Chances are, you’ve seen a few other reviews of this game, some call it ugly, others say the game is too repetitive and some even say that it borrows too many elements from other games. Hopefully I can try offer a different perspective to reduce the chances of you missing out on this gem of a game.
Firstly as is plain for anyone to see, the game is anything but ugly, thanks to its realistic and detailed landscape, the enemies roaming the lands and the incredible weather effects. When the term ugly comes to mind, I definitely wouldn’t think of this game. Admittedly I have noticed a few graphical issues here and there, a stretched character model on one occasion and on another a different character falling through the floor. Rest assured though these instances were few and far between and had no impact on my game since it only happened to them after they’d already been defeated. I also haven’t encountered such instances since.
One little niggle I do have, however is with Deacon himself. He’s carrying a torch/ flashlight, which you’ll be using quite often. However if you examine his person you’ll notice he doesn’t actually have a torch on him, and worse still, the light is directed wherever the camera is pointing and not the character. I say that’s only a very minor complaint though, in an otherwise very stellar looking game.
Secondly, when people say that the game is too repetitive, I don’t think I have ever played a game that wasn’t repetitive in some form. So it doesn’t make sense to me why it would stick out as a complaint with this particular game. Just as an example, think of the crime activities in the recent Marvel’s Spider-Man or the Valkyrie fights on the recent God of War. Those were repetitive events in games that scored very highly but were never complained about, why does Days Gone deserve criticism for what, when you think about it is a fundamental pillar of games? I’m by no means trying to drag those other titles through the mud, as it were, just attempting to prove a point that when you really think about it, any game has repetition, possibly open world games most of all.
Thirdly, when some people claim that it takes too many ideas from other games and retrofits them into this one. Since when has taking good ideas and putting a new spin on them ever been a bad thing? We’re at a point where there a very few unique ideas left, so I say have at it and if you can make something good from it, go for it. Days Gone may feel like it takes a dash of The Last of here, a pinch of State of Decay there, and a mild dusting of Mad Max, but it uses these inspirations to make something truly greater than the sum of its parts.
Now that that’s over with I hope that I have at least changed your mind enough to try Days Gone and I’ll continue with the actual review.
Days Gone is a brilliant looking game, one can’t help but notice the obvious similarities to one of Sony’s other post apocalyptic titles, The Last of Us. While it may look cut from the same cloth as Naughty Dog’s fantastic adventure, Days Gone is an entirely different beast.
You’re dropped into the world as Deacon St-John a member of a motorcycle club, who’s taken on the mantle of bounty hunter, and tasked with hunting down the infected one by one and collecting grisly tokens as proof of their demise to earn credits and trust with the local communities. The hostile infected are known as Freakers, who are not unlike zombies in a way but they also appear to have retained some intelligence. They can dodge and counter your attacks or may even keep their distance depending on how good they think their odds are to take you down. They swarm and attack like a hive, even building nests that are in your best interests to burn away despite the risks, to make the areas safer for future exploration.
The game controls well and the gunplay feels tight, even allowing you to score some headshots despite the panic of being chased by a horde with fewer bullets than you would want in that situation. While the controls work well, it’s in your best interest to keep track of your environment when fighting groups of enemies, more than once I found myself pinned to a wall and viciously mauled to death by the aggressive mass of fingers and teeth, simply because I was too focused on fighting my enemy to see I was backing up into a wall.
The motorcycle is fun to ride around, and if you’re like me, try to ram into any solitary Freakers you come across or try to take it over the conveniently placed and angled boards of wood. Don’t get too carried away however as your bike has limited fuel and run out fairly quickly at the beginning before you’ve made any upgrades. Luckily though, you can walk your bike around and roll it down the hills if you’re trying to conserve fuel or if you’re unlucky enough to have run out. At first I was concerned that I would have to constantly think about where the bike was and what to do about it if I got too far away when I began exploring on foot, but it’s versatile enough that you should be able to take it with you anywhere you go.
As you progress through the game you’ll find various crafting recipes and upgrades to increase your chances of survival, along with the multitude of skills available from leveling your character up. Crafting materials are easy enough to find and seem sparing enough that you’d never be in a struggle to find what you needed to make a molotov for example. What there isn’t a lot of however, is ammunition, you’ll find that you’ll almost always have very little or none at all, so taking advantage of the game’s stealth mechanics is a must if you hope to get through some tight spots. Lacking ammo, while on the whole it can be a bad thing, especially when you’re staring down a group of Freakers, seemingly the size of the population of a small town, it makes you appreciate the stealth and how easy it can be to sneak up on your enemies and may even become your preferred method of dealing with a situation. No ammo means no loud noise and no loud noise means no large groups of angry flash eating monsters alerted to your presence. Deacon can make use of various melee weapons to give himself an edge against the enemy and his trusty boot knife for back up when the melee weapon inevitably breaks.
While on the whole Days Gone runs and plays well, I have encountered some frustrating things. It can have some particularly long loading screens, more so when you first load up the game than any other time Also, the checkpoint and saving system can be a little strange. When you decide to come off the game and you save shortly after watching one of the game’s cutscenes, you’ll find that even though you made a manual save the game will put you back to the moment before, just as the cutscene starts. This isn’t a serious issue but it can be a little confusing.
Other saving issues I found were that if you died while attacking an enemy base it’ll respawn all of the enemies present, forcing you to basically start over. You might be thinking that this isn’t such a big deal as it’s what other games do when it comes to tackling an outpost but in Days Gone it could checkpoint part way through leaving you in a different position than you started. That still isn’t the major problem however, what is, is when you load back into the game you find that all the ammo and resources you used during the fight for the outpost remains used, leaving you with less equipment than you started and potentially giving you a harder time.
Days Gone looks and plays great and it would be a shame if you denied yourself the privilege of playing this gem because of the complaints listed above. I find it to be a very fun and enjoyable experience and would recommend it to anyone. If you have the opportunity to play it, do so. I always believe that you should try a game for yourself to see if you like it rather than take the word of reviews, positive and negative, because the only way you’ll ever truly know is to try for yourself.