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Days Gone – Just another zombie game?

by | Jan 10, 2022

In short

Days Gone is an action/survival open-world title. Days Gone is not groundbreaking in any way, but it offers a convincing experience you’ll appreciate if you appreciate mature narrative solo adventures.

Read the full review for more.

Days Gone is a single-player action/survival open-world game from Bend Studio released in April 2019 on PlayStation 4 – and that later arrived on PC in May 2021.

Interestingly enough, Days Gone is Bend Studio’s first AAA project. Before that, the Oregon-based studio was known for its work on Syphon Filter games and, more recently, on the excellent Uncharted Golden Abyss released for the PS Vita in 2011.

Is ‘Days Gone’ holding up? Answer in this subjective review.

Conditions of the review

I completed my first playthrough of Days Gone on a standard PlayStation 4 and tested the game again for a couple of hours on PlayStation 5. This matters because the PS5 drastically improves the performance of the 2019 title from Bend Studio (4K, 60 FPS lock).

TLDR — Watch the first minutes of Days Gone, captured on the PlayStation 5 at 60 FPS.

An interesting story (but)

If you’re after solo narrative games, Days Gone is a title you need to try if you own a PlayStation 4 or a PlayStation 5. Days Gone narrates the story of Deacon St John a couple of years after the world was taken by a mysterious and ferocious epidemic turning people into mindless monsters called ‘freaks’ (you could also call them zombies).

On the outbreak day, Deacon was separated from his wife, Sarah, and has been looking for her ever since, supported by his friend Boozer. Two years later, with all hopes to find his wife alive almost vanished, Deacon is roaming the plains of Oregon with his buddy, Boozer, going from camp to camp to do small jobs in exchange for goods and credits. They are what locals call drifters.

Days-Gone-Deacon-Boozer

While the game opens with them both working together on a bounty, Boozer will sustain a serious and incapacitating injury, leaving you, Deacon, roam the world of Days Gone on your own.

Highway to hell

The world of Days Gone is populated by freaks (or humans infected by a mysterious disease), infected animals (dogs, wolves, and bears), wild animals such as deers, and humans gathered in fortune camps around the map.

Featuring zombies is not what makes Days Gone special. What makes Days Gone special is how dangerous they can be when in numbers. They are fast and extremely deadly (more on that later). In application, freaks made me think about the sick people from I’m a Legend and World War Z, both in the appearance, movements, and the way they behave. For instance, more freaks will remain indoors during the day and be outside in more numbers during the night.

A ‘ride or die’ vibe that won’t convince all gamers

I would say that Days Gone is pretty good, but I found it particularly difficult to relate to the main characters. Don’t get me wrong, Deacon is an interesting character, but I couldn’t relate to him. Deek (that’s how people call Deacon every other time) and Boozer are deep in a ‘bro world‘, fueled with toxic masculinity that’s never really addressed and I could never fully enter their world, which is a shame!

 

A classic open-world gameplay

With Days Gone, Bend Studio didn’t try to re-invent the wheel and provides a classic open-world action gameplay.

Now, one thing I appreciated while discovering Days Gone is how vulnerable Deacon is. If you’re not being careful enough during the first 10 to 15 hours of the game, you’ll quickly realize that almost anything can kill you one way or another (wolves, bears, bandits, freaks, etc.).

Days-Gone-violent-game

A user-friendly interface

Because you’ll constantly need to switch weapons, craft items, or simply locate on the map, user-friendly menus are key when playing modern open-world games. Good news here, Days Gone excels at this. The weapons and items wheel is clear, menus load fast, and are easy to navigate.

I also appreciated the fact that the game slows down as you navigate the weapon wheel. Not only does this effect give you time to plan your next actions while in the middle of a fight, but it’s also looking pretty darn good!

Days-Gone-weapon-wheel

Bend Studio decided to rely on the touchpad to let the player access different parts of the menu. A simple swipe in the desired direction will open a tab of the menu while in-game.

Days-Gone-menu

And the best part is that it loads instantly.

Dynamic gunfights

If not fighting freaks, Deacon will be fighting people.

You can either go full force or adopt a more strategic approach. One way to do this is to do some recon before attacking and tagging enemies in the process, thus reminding you of their position on your screen and increasing your chances to eliminate them unnoticed.

Days-Gone-tag-enemies

Gunfights can be intense. Try sneaking around to save your bullets and increase your survival rate.

Another element that makes Days Gone special is Deacon’s motorcycle.

Ride or die

As mentioned earlier, Deacon is a biker.

Days-Gone-bike

In Days Gone, your bike is your most valuable tool. It takes you places quickly, and you can rely on it to take you away from danger. In fact, the bike is so central that I ended up considering it as a character.

An evolutive ‘character’

Your bike will feel heavy and clunky at first. It will be slow, sustain heavy damage fast, and your gas tank will also empty at the speed of light. But you’ll get to improve it in most camps you discover as you complete missions, gain credits, as well as the trust of the locals.

Days-Gone-bike-upgrades

You’ll be able to pimp your ride to make it faster, more stable, and reliable as you move forward in the game.

Days-Gone-bike-death-stranding-bb-tank

Death Stranding fans will appreciate the possibility to customize Deacon’s bike with the ‘BB Tank’.

Looting and crafting as a cornerstone

Looting and crafting are at the center of Days Gone gameplay. As you roam the plains of Oregon, you will find lootable items directly from fallen enemies, as you explore abandoned houses and buildings, or by when searching cars.

Days-Gone-loot-scrap

Days-Gone-loot

You are then able to craft all sorts of items and ammunition from your precious loot – as one would expect from any modern open-world title.

Days-Gone-craft-bandage

Days-Gone-craft-molotov

You can craft items and ammunition directly from your weapon wheel.

Camps activities

The adventure will take you to various survivor camps spread all around the world of Days Gone. Other than a place to start new side quests, camps will give you a chance to turn your roadkills into credits, purchase new weapons, and pamper your bike.

(Repetitive) Side quests

Days Gone will keep you busy with many side quests FedEx quests. Most side missions cruelly lack diversity and require you to either eliminate everyone in a bandit camp or end up in a bike chase.

Days-Gone-camps-trust

It will be entertaining at first, but you might get bored of the copy/paste feel quickly.

Bounties, kitchens, and arm vendors

Looting freaks you kill will give you ears. As nasty as it sounds, you’ll then be able to turn those ears into credits by selling them at the Bounty booth in each camp.

Days-Gone-bounties

Another — less creepy — way to make money is to sell food (herbs and meat) to the camps’ kitchens.

Days-Gone-merchant

While some might be interesting at first, most of the weapons you can find on fallen enemies are pretty basic. For more advanced and powerful weapons, pay arms dealers a visit!

 

An elementary RPG component

Here again, Days Gone offers a system that works without innovating.

You’ll gain experience and increase your character level from completing missions and eliminating enemies. Each level will unlock skill points that you will, in turn, use to acquire new abilities such as faster stamina recovery or focused shot to slow time and increase your accuracy when shooting.

Days-Gone-skills-points-upgrades

Days-Gone-skills

As gratifying as it is to grow your character’s skills, there are as many skill points to unlock as there are abilities to unlock. This means that you’ll end up with the same Deacon as every other Days Gone player (hence the ‘elementary RPG’ mention).

Additionally, you’ll find (NERO) injectors to grow Deacon’s Health, Stamina, or Focus.

Days-Gone-NERO-injectors

Finding all injectors will result in maximizing all your stats. No place for FOMO.

Some gameplay imprecisions that might get annoying with time.

Days Gone feels too much like a game at times. Some elements of Days Gone’s gameplay kind of break the immersion by reminding you that you are indeed playing a game. For instance, if you don’t stand exactly as the game needs you to be in front of an interactive object, Deacon won’t be able to complete the desired action, even if the action button appears on the screen. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen too often, but it sure was a source of frustration for me.

 

Keep away from freaks and hordes

Freaks are everywhere

Freaks have taken the world by storm. They are everywhere. And they are hungry for some human meat.

Days-Gone-freaks-alone

They don’t represent a big menace when in small groups, and you shouldn’t find it too challenging to get rid of them. However, things might get more complicated in freak-crowded areas.

Better burn’em all nests

Freaks will make themselves at home in dark and cozy places and have built rather disgusting nests all around the world. To reduce the number of freaks in some areas, you will need to burn their nests using Molotovs (or anything that burns, really).

Days-Gone-molotov-nest

Be careful though, freaks won’t let go of their nests easily and will retaliate every time.

Beware of hordes

As you roam the world, you will encounter dozens of hordes. Hordes are groups of freaks that can vary in size from a couple of dozens to hundreds of individuals. They stick together and will attack you as a group (or as a horde) when they see you.

Days-Gone-hordes

This can be a major problem, especially at the beginning of the game where Deacon cannot sprint for more than a couple of seconds without being out of breath. If your bike isn’t nearby, the horde will eventually catch you, and you’ll face certain death.

However, as you advance in the game, grow your skills and upgrade your equipment, you’ll find that, with a bit of strategy, hordes can be eliminated without too much trouble.

 

A good-looking game (but PS4 players will pay the price)

From convincing foresty environments to sweet light effects, Days Gone looks great – especially if you have a PS4 Pro or a PS5 to play it.

Days-Gone-graphics

Resolutions and framerate on PlayStation consoles

Depending on the machine you play on, Days Gone will offer a slightly different visual experience:

  • Base PS4: 1080p, 30 FPS (max)
  • PS4 Pro: 4K, 30 FPS (max)
  • PS5: 4K, 60 FPS (locked)

Greatness comes at a high price for PS4 players: they will observe noticeable framerate drops in crowded scenes and/or when walking through populated camps. I want to stress that it’s nothing too dramatic, but some drops will be severe and frequent enough to annoy most PS4 players out there.

Bend Studio did fix this issue with a much-needed locked 60 FPS free upgrade on the PlayStation 5. As mentioned in the opening, I first discovered the game on base PS4 and only recently tried it on PS5. And it is a whole different game and experience.

 

How long to beat Days Gone?

Days Gone should keep you busy from 25 to 50 hours, depending on how you play. If you find it in yourself to look for all collectibles and complete all side quests, the main adventure should indeed take you about 50 hours to complete.

For those looking for more fun and challenge in the devasted lands of Oregon, Days Gone offers a couple more surprises.

New game +

A classic New game plus experience that lets you restart a campaign with all the weapons, skills, bike upgrades (etc.) from your previous run.

Days-Gone-new-game-plus

If you are to do a second run via the New game plus, I would highly recommend increasing the difficulty. If not, the game will still be fun, but it will also be way too easy.

Challenges

Challenges give you a chance to complete 12 tasks (from defeating hordes, to fighting bandits or racing with your bike). If you’re playing for fun and not for fame, stay away from Days Gone’s challenges. They are particularly hard!

Days-Gone-challenges-hordes-bike

Days-Gone-challenges-characters

I did try to complete a couple of them and had to let go of my pride after a couple of hours.

An easy platinum trophy

Trophy hunters might find Days Gone interesting as they won’t even need to complete the game at 100% to pop the platinum. For instance, one of the last trophies you’ll unlock is ‘get 75 % of all collectibles’.

 

Where to get Days Gone?

You can now purchase Days Gone for under 20 bucks on the PS Store or in your local game store. You can also often find it under 10 bucks during the many promotional events from Sony. However, if you’re lucky enough to have a PS5 and are subscribed to the PlayStation Plus, you’ll get Days Gone for free as part of the PlayStation Collection.

 

Days Gone: Good buy or goodbye?

If you made it this far in the review, you know that Days Gone is nothing exceptional, but it should still give you a good time if you like roaming through open worlds, are into survival and zombie games.

However, if you’re allergic to open worlds and are easily triggered by toxic masculinity bromance, keep your distance. In which case, I can only recommend fabulous games such as Resident Evil 2 Remake, The Last of Us, or The Last of Us Part II.

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