Days Gone is another AAA exclusive for the PlayStation 4, and with titles like God of War, Uncharted 4, and Spider-Man: Homecoming the expectations are very high. Developed by Sony’s own Bend Studios, who are responsible for Sony’s answer to Metal Gear Solid, the Syphon Filter series.
In recent years the team has been working almost exclusively developing titles for the – now-defunct – PlayStation Vita with titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow, and Resistance: Retribution.
All were good titles and Bend Studios was credited with working miracles on such limited hardware. With the PlayStation 4 nearing the end of its life cycle Days Gone gives the studio another chance to squeeze the best out of the aging system and show what it's capable of to larger install base with a new IP.
There are obvious comparisons to the likes of The Last of Us to be made but outside of the post-apocalyptic themes and zombie-like creatures, they are quite different. The Last of Us is a linear story-driven title Bend Studio’s take on the apocalypse is an open adventure with more in common with the likes of Mad Max and Red Dead Redemption. It has a lot going for it but Days Gone may be Sony’s most divisive exclusive yet so let’s take a look at whether Sony’s latest is worth your time or whether these Days Gone are best forgotten.
20 Worst: Days Gone Is Not Remotely Scary
There’s a lot of marketing for Days Gone geared towards its horror themes and the impressively overwhelming zombie – Freakers in this game – hordes. So you’d at the very least expect the game to be scary with a feeling of tense dread.
Unfortunately, Days Gone is – perhaps intentionally – completely lacking in both because as a gameplay mechanic dealing with the becomes more about experimentation than it does survival. Taking cues from The Walking Dead, The worst monsters in Days Gone are the human kind but they aren’t very frightening either.
19 Best: The Motion Capture And Voice Acting Is Excellent
In addition to the great cinematics, the performances are top notch. As you would expect from a big budget game like this the motion capture is up there with the best that’s available. Days Gone is definitely another game that showcases the advancement in technology and ever closing the gap between movies and games with emotional impact.
The game’s lead character played by Sam Witwer is particularly noteworthy for his performance going way beyond just another grumpy tough guy. This is no doubt helped by Witwer’s past experience in games and animation like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Star Wars: Battlefront.
18 Worst: You’ve Seen And Played Days Gone Before
Days Gone is a well put together game with some engaging characters and story developments. However, there is no escaping the sense of deja vu and the feeling that you’ve watched and played this all before.
It could easily pass as a Walking Dead spin-off but from a videogame standpoint Days Gone will draw comparisons to Sony’s other big AAA exclusive The Last of Us. However, it is clear that the Red Dead Redemption series was a huge influence in its mission design. Sadly, Bend’s title isn’t as polished as Rockstar’s and can feel like just another open-world action game that borrows heavily from games you’ve been playing for this entire generation.
17 Best: Fantastic Cinematics
Assuming that The Last of Us 2 is held back for the PlayStation 5, Days Gone may be Sony’s last AAA exclusive. So when it comes to the cinematic cutscenes developer Bend Studio have spared no expense and they are up there with the best this generation has seen.
Of course, this will help gamers swallow the fact that there are at least six hours of cutscenes to take in through the course of the game. So if you enjoy a game with a lot of dramatic purpose driving the action then Days Gone certainly has those ingredients.
16 Worst: There Are No Memorable Set Pieces
Set pieces done right in a AAA videogame can provide gamers with scenes that integrate with the action on the screen giving you that same feeling of watching and being a part of a good Hollywood blockbuster. There are so many memorable set pieces that are featured on the PlayStation 4’s exclusive titles like Uncharted 4, God of War, and Spider-Man: Homecoming to name a few.
Unfortunately, despite Days Gone being a game that relies very heavily on cinematics, there are very moments where you’ll feel part of the action. The cutscenes are there only to act as bookmarks and chapter points to keep the story moving forward.
15 Best: You Can Create Many Of Your Own Memorable Moments
Even though there’s a lack of involved cinematic moments that stand out like an Uncharted or a God of War title Days Gone is the kind of game where you’ll create many of your own memorable action set-pieces and feel like an action hero doing it.
Experimentation is rewarded in a similar way to other open-world titles like Mad Max and Just Cause both of which are obvious influences. Just like those games, there are lots of satisfying moments to be had as you find new ways to dispose of zombie horde and humans with traps, grenades, and Molotov cocktails.
14 Worst: Technical Issues Can Break The Immersion
There will be many occasions where you’ll take in Days Gone’s post-apocalyptic Oregon setting and really appreciate the amount of effort and work that the developers put in. It’s atmospheric and often beautiful to explore in various different weather conditions.
However, this sense of immersion can be broken very quickly when textures suddenly pop in right front of you and light rays look like they are producing some sort of weird bubbling effect that ruins an otherwise lovely looking game.
13 Best: Solid Gameplay Mechanics
The gameplay in Days Gone relies a lot on how creative a player can get and in order to do that there needs to be a solid and balanced gameplay system in place. While there’s nothing particularly spectacular about how the game plays it is very easy to pick and play.
Riding your bike is a lot of fun, as is despatching enemies using stealth or the variety of offensive weaponry and tools at your disposal. The items and crafting wheel can be a bit fiddly in the early stages of the game but it won’t be long before it'll become second nature.
12 Worst: Melee Combat Is Clumsy
Unsurprisingly, Days Gone is a brutal and imposing game with several gross ways to put pay to enemies. The most satisfying way you’ll do this is usually through stealth or at a distance with your guns and crossbow.
The head on melee combat is horrible though, there’s a complete lack accuracy when trying to aim at an enemy. In addition, there’s no weightiness to the fighting and you’ll see yourself clumsily flailing around in all directions trying to connect with your enemies Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice this isn’t.
11 Best: The World Of Days Gone Is Beautiful
Technical issues aside, the world of Days Gone is a beautiful sight to behold. It’s not as vast or as large as games with a similar backdrop such as Far Cry 5 and Red Dead Redemption II. Yet, Bend’s offering is just as distinct and has as much personality as the characters that reside in it.
The game is full of randomized events that help the world feel alive and its absolutely infested with Freakers and their nests to deal with, NOVA facilities to loot, and side missions to keep you busy.
10 Worst: It Gets Off To A Very Slow Start
There’s no getting away from the feeling that a lot of players may find themselves losing patience with Days Gone because it gets off to such a slow start. In addition, the slow loading times in-between the very lengthy cutscenes which are there to lay the groundwork for the game’s lengthy campaign.
Unfortunately, the game’s first act doesn’t help matters either with its seemingly predictable and generic storyline. So while Days Gone gets a lot of credit for being easy to pick up and play it’s hard to get into because of the slow storytelling in the early stages.
9 Best: Riding Your Motorcycle
If there’s a modern day vehicle that will give your character the aura of the cool anti-hero-type, it is the motorcycle. Whether it’s the T800 from Terminator 2, Wolverine, or the Sons of Anarchy there’s something about motorcycles that will always be appealing to the wannabe Easy Rider in all of us and Days Gone captures that perfectly.
It is fair to say that a lot of your most memorable action moments will occur on your bike. So it’s a bonus then that the handling of the bike so very good because you’ll be doing a lot of riding and navigating the Pacific Northwest on your bike is an absolute dream.
8 Worst: Days Gone Lacks Its Own Identity
Make no mistake, developers Bend Studios have borrowed from a lot of different sources in the creation of Days Gone. While that's not necessarily a bad thing especially if it's executed well, the lack of originality will be jarring for some. Fans of the genre will notice parallels with World War Z, 28 Days Later, and the Sons of Anarchy.
Even the game's lead protagonist Deacon seems to be a clone of Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead. Just like that series the game's own brooding hero rides a Harley, carries a crossbow, and has the gravely Clint Eastwood voice to match.
7 Best: Perseverance Will Pay Off
As mentioned, the first act of Days Gone will be a bit of drag for some gamers. However, those who have a little patience to see it through find that the game becomes so much more rewarding with time.
In the second act, you’ll be introduced to a more meaningful threat in the form of a cult and in the third act provides some environmental changes that help keep things fresh especially after spending tens of hours running around the open world.
6 Worst: Poor Human Artifical Intelligence
Coming from a studio with so much experience with stealth titles with Syphon Filter series Bend Studio’s expertise should have translated well into a game where stealth is your most effective weapon.
Days Gone’s most common and least interesting enemies are the humans, they may also the least intelligent. This becomes very apparent after you’ve taken out your enemies with stealth leaving evidence of your handy work all over the place. Even post-patch they’ll sometimes ignore what’s right in front of them or go back to the same predetermined path they have been walking from start to finish.
5 Best: The Horde Is Very Impressive
Despite being a game that borrows heavily from many other sources Days Gone has a pretty fantastic unique selling point in the horde. Where Horizon Zero Dawn’s biggest draw was its mechanical dinosaurs Days Gone has the Freakers and they can be just as epic through sheer numbers.
We’ve seen a lot of zombies on screen at once before with the Dead Rising series but its the way they come together like a swarm of ants in Days Gone. They come together like one massive unrelenting unit, if you’re thinking about the zombies from the World War Z movie then you won’t be far off the mark.
4 Worst: The Game's Unique Selling Point Is Underutilized
Despite the completely different settings Days Gone will draw a lot of comparisons to Sony’s other big open world exclusive Horizon Zero Dawn. Just like that game it borrows heavily from other games in the same genre but has its own unique selling point that allows it to stand out in the crowd.
Unfortunately, just like Horizon Zero Dawn’s slight misfire by focusing on human enemies over the Dinobots, Days Gone’s hordes don’t become very significant until the final act. Combating the horde doesn’t stray too far from being chased until they run into your traps or give up and make their way back to the nest.
3 Best: There’s Lots Variety To The Action
Days Gone seems to have gone a long way in making sure that gamers of all styles will get something out its Freaker infested world. If you prefer the strategic approach then you can plan your approach, set up traps and even attract Freakers to enemy camps so they can do all the dirty work for you.
If you like going in like an 80s action hero shooting anything that moves to clear out encampments then you can. Then, of course, there’s stealth which allows you to use tall blade grass so you can sneak up on humans and Freakers alike.
2 Worst: There’s Very Little Reward For Tactics
We mentioned that players can approach dangerous situations in Days Gone using a variety of different ways. This is great because it finds a way to adapt to different playstyles helping to provide some variety in the process. It’s unfortunate, however, that experimentation isn’t rewarded and the often lengthy process of using tactics and stealth over gunfights doesn’t have much of a payoff.
Far too often a player can get away with running into danger shooting and everything in sight without any consequences. This is the quickest and easiest method to get the job done and when there’s very little reason to spend more time on a mission than needed especially as repetition can set in quickly.
1 Best: Days Gone’s World Building Is Spot On
Many open world games don’t evolve or grow around you as the story progresses and function purely as nothing more than a playground to enjoy. That’s great for most action games where the story doesn’t have much meaning like Just Cause but it wouldn’t have worked for Days Gone.
Bend Studio clearly put a lot of thought into building a believable world that grows organically around you. Missions and side missions integrate with each other and have a direct impact on the encampments and your social interactions. In addition, incidents that occur later on the game have a direct impact on previously visited locations.