Before I get in to this review, I’m going to start it with a moan. The game has now been out for a week and of course some review sites managed to get their hands on the game early ready for the reviews to go live on the day of release. The issue with all of the reviews I have seen so far (from someone who has actually completed the game) is that it was highly obvious that these sites firstly hadn’t completed the game in the first place, but also hadn’t even bothered to put any effort into playing the game properly or were just hell bent on trying to destroy the game as we have all been waiting years for the release. Take IGN for instance, everyone knows they write articles that, shall we say are questionable, and have been caught out numerous times for not even finishing games to review. The issue with this is that they still get games to review and people read them just for the laughs of a sub-standard set of reviewers. Not only IGN, but I have also seen a review from TIME Magazine (who the hell reads TIME Magazine for their views on video games?) which was not only full of spoilers, but was blatantly obvious the game hasn’t been played by the woman in question. It focussed on one part of the game (dealing with a horde) but said it was the only horde that you take on in the entire game. Amazingly, before I tackled the horde in question, I had already had to deal with 3 seperate ones before that one as part of missions.
Being part of the admin team on Facebook for one of the largest PlayStation group communities as well, these reviews have obviously put people off the game when it was launched. Within hours of the release there were hundreds of posts trying to be allowed on to the group which were all saying that due to these reviews, people would be avoiding the game like the plague. Or, even better, people saying they had played the game for an hour and could see where these reviews were coming from and were taking their copies back for a refund. The game is 60 hours long, how the hell can people make an informed decision after just an hour?!
Anyhoo, moving on, I will start this review by dropping a little proof that I have actually played through the game and completed it..
So now all that is out of the way, I will get on to the heart of why I’m here; Days Gone, a game we have been waiting for for the best part of 3 years since it was initially announced and I will keep this review as spoiler free as I possibly can, but please be warned, there may be the odd spoiler.
Days Gone is basically an open world action-adventure survival horror game developed by Bend Studios and is PlayStation exclusive. Set in a post-apocalyptic world you take on the role of Deacon St. John a former outlaw biker turned drifter who prefers life on the road rather than survivor encampments. The game takes place two years after a global pandemic occurred which killed almost all of humanity, and transformed millions of others into “Freakers”, basically zombies that are nocturnal wandering mindlessly around (but are rapidly evolving). They mostly wander the wastes alone, but there are a few hordes along the way; hundreds of them all roaming in the same direction with what seems a purpose. Played in a 3rd person perspective prepare for some serious greatness.
That alone would make for a pretty poor storyline alone, so throw into the mix Sarah, Deacons wife who we meet right at the start of the game. A virus has caused humanity to become violent, Deacon, Sarah and Boozer (Deacons biker friend) try to escape but Sarah ends up being stabbed causing a critical wound. Deacon loads her on to a National Emergency Response Organization (NERO) helicopter. However, since the helicopter does not have enough room to carry all three of them, Deacon decides to stay behind with Boozer while promising Sarah he will reunite with her later.
Fast forward 2 years and Deacon and Boozer are still riding the wastelands after civilization has collapsed and has lived with the reality that Sarah has died from her wounds as there was no sign of her when he went to the survivor camp they were airlifting her to. That is until he stumbles across a NERO researcher studying the undead who was on the helicopter that night. There starts one of the various storylines within the game to find out what actually happened to Sarah. This is brought about beautifully with some amazing flashbacks into how they met, things they did together which also adds to your learning in survival from the land, as well as their wedding which is when Deacon finally brings himself to accepting the truth of her death.
The wedding scene does see one of the worlds cheesiest lines spoken by Sarah when they are reading out their personal vows and she says to Deacon, “Will you promise to ride me more than your bike”? I did cringe at that point, but thankfully it is the only cringeworthy line in the 60 hours of gameplay that I came across.
That is one storyline. Another is Boozer. Quite early in the game he gets attacked by “Rippers”; a band of humans who worship the dead and want to be like them, his arm being badly burnt in the attack and his health starts to deteriorate rapidly. Deacon sets out to gather materials in order to heal the wound which sees him encountering various survivor camps and eventually taking Boozer to one to get better treatment than he could ever administer. These camps all give side missions which add some great depth to the main storyline and also help to add new weapons available as well as craftable items to help in battle. The more you do for the camps, the greater your standing within those camps and the better weapons are made available.
Your true best friend within the game is your motorbike. You travel the landscape on it getting to your various locations which you need to. The bike can be upgraded within the camps to gain larger fuel tanks as well as shock absorbers and so on. Travelling around the expansive map will drain your fuel, but luckily there are plenty of fuel cans lying around the landscape to help you fuel up as well as still functioning petrol stations, but be warned when you pull into them, there are usually zombies close by who will attack at the sound of your engine.
A lot of people have been trying to compare this game to The Last of Us stating that TLoU is a much better game; Days Gone being repetitive and quite boring. The thing is, it is impossible to compare both games. Wow, they both have zombies/undead so that automatically means they are both the same game obviously! Nope, completely wrong. TLoU was a single path journey from point A to B and you couldn’t stray from that path. If you really want to compare Days Gone to any other game, then think along the lines of Red Dead Redemption 2. That was an open-world game where yes, missions were repetitive, but still managed to come out with an amazing overall score. The best thing to do with Days Gone is to go into it with an open mind, to treat it as its own game and not try to compare. All open-world games start to become repetitive after a while, but for me Days Gone did it better than RDR2 did.
Now, a game of this magnitude obviously comes with issues. There were a few bugs along the way, but they were extremely minimal. The issue I did find was that when I installed the game day 1, patch 1.04 was available. Once that had downloaded I started on my journey within the game and it ran perfectly for me with no issues. Already we are on 1.07 and each patch has said bug issues. The more patches that have come along, the more bugs have been added to my game rather than eliminating any that I never had in the first place. Every so often there is a drop in my bikes engine noise as well as a slight sync issue with some cut scenes, but I’m sure there will be dozens more patches to come along to address these issues. I stand by the motto of, ‘if it aint broke then don’t try to fix it’, and my 1.04 patch was running the game fine. The further on I got into the game, I also started to notice frame rate drops whilst on the bike. It was nothing major, but was kinda noticeable.
The game brings a familiar style of gameplay. All of the missions that are given to you by the NERO researcher are stealth based. NERO helicopters will land, a researcher gets out as well as armed guards ready to kill any approaching zombies. The researcher moves around a site studying the zombies and their evolution and you need to get close enough to overhear the conversation they’re having. You cannot use stealth kills against the soldiers and if you are caught snooping around you will have to start again. You can distract the armed guard with the use of throwing rocks to get them to investigate where they land and sneak past them and hiding in the next set of bushes. This also builds heavily on the background story of the outbreak and how the undead are starting to evolve to their habitat.
Then we get on to what is the crowning glory for this game, the hordes of zombies. There are certain areas of the game (normally around NERO checkpoints (I’ll get on to those soon)) where literally hundreds of zombies camp out. One slight noise and the horde attack, and boy does it look amazing! If you do encounter one of these hordes early on, my advice is to simply get the hell out of there. Later on in the game however, there are a few missions where you do have to take on these hordes and kill them all. It’s not an easy task but once you start to upgrade to better weapons and get used to how they work, its so much fun.
NERO checkpoints are dotted around the landscape, within these you will find injectors which raise one of three things depending on which you choose, health, focus or stamina. There’s no power to any of these and the doors to the cabins are electronically locked, so you will need to find a petrol can lying around close by and filling up the power generator, but be warned. There are speakers around the area which will start to play a recorded message as soon as the power goes on bringing down a plague of zombies on you, and if a horde is in close proximity you’re screwed! You will obviously need to deal with them first.
Taking a horde down will take some time and see you running around a lot. There are always explodable barrels lying around the area helping you take out 30 or 40 zombies in one go, but as these hordes are technically classed as boss battles you can tell that taking out that many at a time will still be a slow process. The hordes do look amazing if you have the nerve to look behind you as you’re running away seeing hundreds of individual zombie movements all out to kill you. The best bit of advice I can give for them is that narrow space are actually your friend. The reward for defeating a horde is not only a great sense of achievement and satisfaction, but you also collect ears from the zombies which can be handed into camps to upgrade them. Around the world you will struggle to amass a decent number of them to hand in, wipe out a horde and you will find the best part of 700 to collect and turn in. That also gives you an idea of the scale of these hordes.
Zombies aside, you will encounter various people along the way, the most of these found inside camps that will give you missions to help your standing within those camps, but also add some great storylines to the overall game. All of which do eventually come together toward the end of the game. There are so many splintering storylines within that do all move you well toward the end of the game and come together to make one of the best stories I have come across in a game. OK, some of the voice acting from lesser characters can be a little lacking at times, but you can easily ignore it. In the wilds, there are also various characters that need to be tracked and rescued from ripper camps, or even from surviving humans who are hell bent on capturing others and holding them against their will. Cars along the way can also hold someone who is hiding from zombies trying to get at them. Rescue these people and send them to safety at one of the camps you unlock along the way and it all adds to your standing within those camps.
The backdrops to the game are seriously beautiful as well. One thing I really did notice that in a game of this scale, there were no rendering issues. I’ve come across games in the past where the scenery in the distance will just pop into view randomly, none of that ever happened here and considering the level of detail and depth it is an impressive game engine that’s running in the background. The map of the game is massive as well. Obviously when you start the game you are in a small region, but the more you play the game, the larger the map will become as you follow missions to enlarge it and get to more and more camps to help them out. Luckily you do unlock fast travel points, but you will need to make sure your bike has enough fuel onboard to be able to complete the journey.
With 60+ hours of gameplay it’s a substantial game and one that I really did enjoy from the start. OK, it may take a few hours to start to really get into the game, something that everyone seems to be moaning about, but stick with it and the rewards are immense from this game.
So, my views on the game? For me, Days Gone is simply one of the best ever PS exclusives that has been released. Yes, some will argue that God of War or TLoU is better, but they are also completely different games. If it wasn’t for the various bugs that seem to have been dropped into the game with the updates I would have no hesitation in giving it a solid 9.5 out of 10. However, for me I am sticking to a 9/10 on this one. It’s not only an amazing ride (bike pun intended) and fantastic storylines that all amalgamate toward the end, but even after the main storyline has finished there is still a lot to do after the beautiful ending credits which I did actually shed a small tear to. It is a true roller coaster of depression, anger, sadness and frustration within an emotional journey. Throw in the amazing soundtrack to the mix, and it all adds to the emotion.
Ignore the bullshit reviews that were released as the game came out, those guys obviously didn’t play the game through properly and you can also tell that a lot ripped other reviews for their own. Go out and grab this game, you wont regret it.
**PLEASE NOTE: AIR Entertainment went out and personally bought this game for review. All opinions are my own and in no way have been influenced in any way as per out REVIEW POLICY but no doubt people won’t agree with my views as the likes of IGN know best!**