I’ll be honest.
Days Gone‘s first announcement did nothing for me.
I was proverbially “done” with the zombie-action genre.
And yeah, I’ll call myself out and say “BUT THAT DON’T STOP ME BEING EXCITED FOR THE LAST OF US 2, WOO!”. That’s a narrative experience that I crave more of. We probably don’t need it but goddamn I love that world.
Action-shooters with zombie killing though? Even when it’s zombie-killing SWARMS of them?
I don’t know.
It wasn’t the buzz so to speak.
But Days Gone is out here slapping me in the face and saying “BOY, YOU ARE DEAD WRONG ABOUT OUR GAME” and I respect that.
I was very wrong about how much I was going to enjoy this game.
Days Gone is an open-world action game set in the high-desert of the Pacific Northwest two years after a mysterious global pandemic has decimated the world, killing most but transforming millions into mindless, feral creatures.
Survivors live in a world where resources are scarce, violence and murder are common and Freakers roam the wilderness.
Man, scarce is right. And I didn’t really realise that.
Like I said, I had no real interest in the title. But I’m guessing if I had looked into more of it, I would’ve realised that this is a freaking survival game.
AND I LOVE SURVIVAL GAMES.
Thrown into the Pacific Northwest, the game starts immediately after a brief introduction to the start of the pandemic. We pick up on the highway roads with Deacon and Boozer being Drifters, a kind of name for those not affiliated with any groups in the game. And there are groups, because the apocalypse will always bring out the worst in us and it’s everyone for themselves.
I can’t really tell you about the story, as I suspect it’s something that follows the main storyline. And if you know me, I don’t follow the main storyline if there’s 100 other things to do. And there are 100 other things to do and I’m doing them all. Maybe that’s what the game is about and why it doesn’t throw you into story or drop it on you heavy handedly. It’s about adventure!
It’s just that the adventure is in a world filled with swarms of potentially evolved undead.
And running into the Freakers at first has that funky, terrifying feel to it, especially as you roam this epic world, yet it’s the swarms that get to you, both mentally and physically. Now this was something I knew about from the E3 trailers, but you know…I’m also skeptical of trailers because well…E3 does that to the best of us. But oh my god, my first swarm. I don’t even know if there’s a limit to them yet but my god, they just come at you and you better hope you’re ready to go.
Ready to go involves weapons and skills of course! This title does have an RPG-lite build to it, so this means experience and levelling leads toward skills that improve your character within the game. That’s it, publish post. As for weapons, they have a nice feel to them, with some being gutsy as hell, others providing special ammo and the rest providing a diverse amount of ways to deal with the situations you’ll run into; All of them set in a radial wheel that slows down battle when opened, akin to the likes of Horizon Zero Dawn…or The Last Of Us.
YES! Sorry to bring it up again, but it’s because of a goddamn gorgeous crafting system in this game also, which is very similar to that universe. Loot everything you can find and craft items necessary for your survival. But this loot is also gonna be required for repairing! REPAIRING! And did I mention petrol? You need that too!
You’re going to need a lot, and yes, this may become a repetitive routine. But I’ve found myself loving that I have to manage what I’m doing, where I’m going and if I’m picking up what I need. Thankfully this title has a ridiculously intuitive way, by use of the touch pad, to allow players to swipe through 4 different areas of information vital to their journey. I couldn’t even think of the last title that made me go “WOW. The touchpad has a really great use!”.
So far I’m enjoying my journey through the world of DAYS GONE. I can tell Bend Studios have put a lot into this giant world that feels wide and vast even as I keep travelling through areas I’ve been. Everything feels new each time, with something else to be picked up on as you ride past a location, taking note to ensure you know what items could be there for future use.
That kind of survival-management in this horrifying world of zombie-action is unexpected, but something truly entertaining.
Currently this game could be heading toward a solid 4, but with potential to find itself repeating too much, it could stall it's own greatness.
With some really solid choices in terms of UI, interaction and the overall LARGENESS of the world, it's a very unexpected title that I only wish to see Bend Studios build on more.
XENOJAY.COM was supplied with a media copy of the game for review by PlayStation NZ, and it was played on the Playstation 4 Pro console.