Days Gone is the latest game from Sony SIE Bend Studio (responsible for the Siphon Filter series) takes place in beautiful countryside in the Pacific Northwest after the spread of the virus that turns the victims into zombies that are absolutely different than we saw in the Danny Boyle movie "28 Days Later" (2002). The survivors either hide in paranoid communities or move from one area to another, killing infected Frickers on their way.
The protagonist, Deacon St. John, is a biker who performs tasks for these fragile communities, destroying monsters and thieves, as well as mourning for his lost wife Sarah, a botanist who came to the area to study plant life before the start of a pandemic and ultimately fell in love with our gloomy hero. At the beginning of the game, she was seriously injured and transported by air to a medical tent, which was later overrun by infected people. Now Deacon's only friend is Boozer, whose distinguishing feature is a bald, tattooed head.
The main character's motorcycle is your constant companion, it is very manageable and feels great, especially after several improvements and additions that increase the amount of nitrogen. To drift is very cool as well as to cross a cliff on the road. Sony Bend spent a lot of time on this part of the gameplay in which the main focus is on driving.
The story, however, seems inconsequential. There is a crazy cult of suicide bombers and an obscure government agency that you have to deal with, and the question of the true Sarah's destiny, but these cliches are buried under a constant, interconnected series of tasks and quests. All the characters you meet are carved from the same archetype present in almost all stories of survival, and this limits the emotional range of the narrative.
In the commercials, the characters are either indifferently angry or inert and melancholic. There are no moments of wit or surprise, nothing to oppose the all-pervasive darkness and fights, and there is nothing equivalent to a wonderful moment in The Last of Us, where Ellie notices giraffes. In fact, the plot, including Deacon's unwanted parental relationship with a girl who looks like Ellie, emphasizes how limited the narrative palette is in Days Gone.
All of this is suitable for a game that seeks to be like a blockbuster action movie, but Days Gone clearly wants us to emotionally interact with the Deacon and the surviving communities. The game fails to achieve this. We kind of have to take care of these people, but they are all unpleasant, and their images are quickly forgotten. We spend the first 10 hours of the game, knowing almost nothing about them. Why is the Deacon so devoted to Boozer? What did they do together, why was this connection created? With a name like Boozer, how can we even take this character seriously?
The romance between Deacon and Sarah is also unconvincing. Why did this cultured and educated scientist fall in love with an ingenious simple man in a dirty baseball cap? For a twenty-hour story, it's not enough for the authors to simply say, "Hey, opposites attract."
The central loop of the gameplay may seem familiar. You complete missions, drive to certain places and shoot. Performing these tasks opens a map and allows you to earn money which you can use to buy the best weapons and upgrade your motorcycle. You also improve the skill tree with three branches, pumping your skills in handling weapons, the ability to fight and get food. You explore the landscape, pick up random side quests, raid the robber camps, open fast travel points and hunt animals for meat and skin. The gameplay will be so recognizable to fans of Ubisoft open-world games that you think it's Far Cry 5.5 or Assassin's Creed: Armageddon.
The crafting system in Days Gone is based on the fact that the objects found are combined with others, and you can get new weapons by combining, for example, a bat with a saw blade to kill the enemy with one blow. In the game, it is profitable to invest in creating the right weapons, which are effective in close combat, and not just shoot well.
Most of the battles are against gangs and small groups of infected civilians, but there are also crowds of Freakers, although they play a smaller role than trailers suggest. Throughout most of the game they can be avoided, but later, with improved skills and weapons, they are worth looking for: battles with them are a daunting task that requires skills in reconnaissance, planning and using different facilities. Guiding dozens of Freakers directly onto the path of an exploding tanker is a devastating show that only a few games can compete with.
Like any good biker, Deacon is constantly upgrading his bike, improving things such as speed, durability, fuel supply, ammunition storage and much more. All this is not necessary, but Days Gone does not really let you know how important it is to pay attention to increasing speed and reducing fuel consumption. Neglecting upgrades in the first part of the game, you really will pay for it with the time spent hunting for fuel tanks on foot, and mission to find rewards will be much more difficult. Early update of these indicators is vital. Unfortunately, the game does not have any rare or cool upgrade, which would definitely give more incentive for research.
This also applies to the many missions that can be found in the open world. Tracking NERO milestones to achieve significant improvements in your various characteristics - health, stamina, and concentration - is time consuming, as it always takes strength to get right. This means that you need to search the area to find the gas tank to fill the generator, sometimes replace the blown fuse, and then repeat this still a couple of times. This is not a good sign when you hear your character's phrase about the repetition of game mechanics - this suggests that the developers are well aware that they played their card too many times. At some points, the Deacon remarks: "Well, let me guess: not enough fuel, of course!" "What a witty joke!" - You will think, performing the same procedure for the eighth time.
Freaker nests are scattered in Oregon that Days Gone convinces you to attack, blocking fast movement on certain infected routes until they are cleaned. At first, it brings satisfaction - an incredible relief when you ride along a deserted highway - but in the end, a huge number of nests without any real sense of diversity makes you lose interest. At some point, it's faster to just drive past the nests than to push through them.
Repeatability is compounded by the fragile Deacon bike, which suffers severe damage as a result of contact with almost any object, including, unfortunately, the Freakers themselves. Although the feelings of vulnerability and urgency that this vehicle brought add some zest, especially in moments of insane pursuit. But when the bike is almost empty or broken, and you just need to get from point A to point B, the search for spare parts for repairs starts to really annoy. For example, in GTA V, cars can get unrealistic damage before they catch fire and explode. Now imagine that you can't just take another car when your car breaks down, but you need to drive fast. There is something inappropriate in that a cool biker with an excellent bike rides slowly and carefully so as not to scratch the paint.
During the mission completion there are noticeable dips in the frame rate when playing on the PS4 Pro at 1080p resolution, and sometimes objects (or entire areas) appear and disappear. The first problem is most worrying when you ride your motorcycle, and Days Gone stops for a moment, as if trying its best to keep up. This is not a big deal, but it was a constant reminder that everything is not as smooth as it should be.
There are also dynamic events that are being played around the world. Although they are not as interesting as, say, the clashes in Red Dead Redemption 2, the random and unexpected situations with rescuing hostages or traps from which you need to escape turned out to be quite exciting. As a rule, you can just sit on your bike and leave if you do not want to do this, but these events somehow help to forget about the fadedness of the rest of the open world.
The world of Days Gone certainly needs a lot of characters. Although it is quite beautiful and full of dense forest, winding roads and snow-capped mountains, if you look closely, it is also quite rare, and it is difficult to distinguish different areas from each other. Its abandoned buildings are boring, it seems that they exist simply to allocate resources. Who lived here and what happened to them? They left behind no trace other than rare notes.
In a word, it's sad. A series of abandoned cars, tunnels, empty houses on a background of gray sky. It is clear that this is a post-apocalyptic setting, but because of the lack of a narrative about the environment, you want to get more. The game says that it was the world in which they once lived, but its boring interiors and barren exteriors definitely do not feel like that.
Even human-populated areas, such as camps, seem faceless. When the NPC says a phrase, you most likely have already heard it more than once, and although there are optional conversations with various mechanics / cooks / collectors of the camp, you will find that there are very few reasons to stay and listen to them. Again, part of the problem here is extreme seriousness - a little humor or a sense of insanity (after all, this is a zombie apocalypse) could at least slightly, but remedy the situation.
During missions, gauges of fuel level and damage to your bike - usually vital things to watch out for - often disappear, as do NERO soldiers in the research area you just finished scouting. These are small cons, but they violate the general atmosphere.
The soundtrack could be more focused on rock music to really complete the biker atmosphere. Instead, all the Deacon listens to is the radio stations of various camps and the radio calls from your friends. There are also a number of problems with sound, ranging from complete loss of dialogue to problems with synchronization.
The Days Gone game is not an original, but a pleasant adventure with a beautiful environment, using artificial intelligence and physics to create exciting moments and great entertainment. But its story that humanity is fighting for the restoration of society after the end of the world is painfully familiar, the romantic line is unsystematically structured and insufficiently spelled out, and the characters are too busy with calling each other idiots to say or do something original, motivating or deep. This is a game of fun and rage - at times it is exciting, but still quickly forgotten.
- exciting battles with hordes of frikers
- well-developed mechanics of riding a motorcycle
- dry and not fascinating plot
- constant repetition of missions
- there are some performance problems
- poorly spelled characters, especially human antagonists