Written by Pat Kerley
Get ready to ride along the broken road and strive to survive in a world that comes for you. Days Gone is an open-world third-person shooter, taking place in a post-apocalyptic setting.
The story of Days Gone is an engaging one that will keep you wanting more. You play as the sarcastic Deacon St. John, a former biker gang member before the outbreak of ‘freakers’ took hold of the world. The narrative mainly takes place 2 years after the infection that has turned people feral, with brief glimpses into the past before the world went to hell.
I had a few minor issues with the story mostly around clarification like why does everyone use motorcycles? While there are a handful of offhanded comments that give vague reasons as to why they do, the fact that no one seems to use other modes of transport in the game just seems odd. Another niggling point in the plot was that at one point it seemed like they were setting up the story to go in a certain direction with a group known as the ‘Rippers’ yet there no follow up. It was a rather pointless story thread in the overall arc of things.
But all in all, the campaign is lengthy, with a cast of characters that are portrayed exceptionally well. The performances given in this game are amazing, especially by Sam Witwer, who plays the main protagonist. The emotions he expresses through motion capture are phenomenal. Deacon as a character is fantastic, he goes through quite a lot in the game, from coming to an acceptance of loss to learning to accept others despite the immense challenges that the world has thrown at him.
The game is set in Oregon state and I felt this game did an insanely good job of creating the world around you. The tagline in this world is ‘the world comes for you’ and those words ring through as you are attacked by everything that can attack you, from ‘freakers’, other people to bears and crows.
However, that isn’t the truly impressive thing the game manages to pull off. Days Gone has done something that most other stories similar to it never managed to do for me, and it is its immersion. You will see a pack of wolves hunt down deer, ‘freakers’ attack bears or eat their own. Everything reacts to each other, creating a world that feels alive.
It honestly left me feeling unsettled at points watching the world go on without my interaction, it was an unexpected but very welcome surprise.
That being said, there’s one thing that must be challenged and that is the multitude of glitches.
Days Gone is unfortunately littered with glitches, from enemies getting caught in loops, objects and foes simply appearing out of nowhere, decapitated heads staying in the air and rendering issues. The framerate dropping quite a bit just took me out of what was going on around me.
While it’s not excusable for a game like this to be this buggy, the patches that have been coming out at a fast pace have made the game run at a much smoother pace and makes it all the more enjoyable to play.
The gameplay also suffers from the glitches in some aspects, especially when the framerate drops on the motorcycle, it really kills all momentum you gain, and it was so bad at some points it would freeze for a handful of seconds. However, when everything is running swimmingly, driving the bike is quite satisfying, the weight and feel that is delivered while roaming around is fantastic.
Your bike can be improved by adding new parts, that actually make a difference, giving a new feel to the control of the bike every time you upgrade it. Though you do have to look after the two-wheeled vehicle, there is a ludicrous amount of fuel you can find. You will never find yourself stranded with your bike!
The third-person shooter mechanics are a bit of mixed bag, in my opinion, even when I had gotten the hang of it, I still never felt like I was fully in control of the weapons I was using. Apart from that unusual feeling, it functioned rather well, with each gun having a different vibe to it. The combat in the game is simplistic, with you being able to find and craft certain objects as weapons to batter your foes, the brutality of this game adds to the atmosphere, and silent takedowns can be deadly to watch unfold. You have your options on how to play the game, you can play guns a blazing, however, it won’t work for every situation, being cautious and playing silently, or setting up traps can help you come out on top.
There are two upgrade systems in the game for Deacon, you have Nero injectors scattered around the map that can increase your focus, stamina or your maximum health. You then have the level system that allows you to unlock certain skills that relate to melee, guns and your survival instincts. There are a good handful of skills that you will find useful with some allowing you to carry more supplies, have more penetration with your bullets or being able to stealth kill bigger foes. It has a steady progression of you getting stronger, never did I feel overpowered until near the end of the game, when I figured out what way I wanted to approach missions along with getting better gear.
You have a variety of objects to clear in the game, from the story missions to camps full of bad guys to kill, infestations where you have to burn ‘freaker’ nests, bounty hunter missions where you chase down others on bikes and the insanity that is the hordes. The hordes are something else altogether, getting chased by hundreds, possibly thousands of ‘freakers’ is both terrifying yet incredibly fun.
Whether it be just trying to outrun them to survive, or the unbelievably satisfying feeling of having them run into traps you have laid it makes them an unforgettable experience. While most of the tasks you do play out feels like you’ve done it before I never found myself growing tired of it, or finding them particularly repetitive.
The game itself starts at a very slow pace and you’ll find yourself mainly facing the common ‘freaker’ and animals for a good chunk of time. However, when hordes become more commonplace and all the new enemy types make their way into the story the game improves drastically. I believe that the reveals for new ‘freakers’ could have been spread out and revealed more evenly though as it would have given the game a better pace gameplay-wise. The game really does improve after a good few hours of playing.
I found the music throughout the game to mainly have a sombre tone, reflecting the atmosphere the game is trying to achieve. Though there are just a handful of emotional vocal pieces that really stand out and mixes things up ever so slightly. You do have music that will create tension, such as when you’re fighting infected bear or my favorite when the eerie music starts playing when a horde is nearby.
Overall, Days Gone is a fantastic game with a solid foundation built to work upon for future installments. With amazing performances throughout the story, fun motorcycle riding, incredible horde fights and an unbelievable sense of atmosphere the game had the possibility of being game of the year, but it’s unpolished. As of right now, the glitches are taking away from a game that is on the cusp of excellence.
I would recommend waiting for the game to get fixed up before purchasing it because as things stand now with its many bugs, I cannot recommend the game at full price.
If you are looking for games similar to Days Gone I would recommend Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Uncharted: Lost Legacy and Red Dead Redemption 2.