A true sleeper hit that deserves better.
I’m just going to come right up front and say this: I really am enjoying Days Gone. So just expect a lot of praise from here on out.
Days Gone is essentially a bunch of different games put into a blender and blended into a nice healthy smoothie. It has a great cast of characters and a very interesting premise. You are in the role of Deacon “Deek” St. John, a biker who is living in a post-apocalyptic Oregon after a virus hits and has a horrifying effect on those who get sick. Just know this upfront, this is NOT a zombie story. Days Gone has elements of The Last of Us, Dying Light, Mad Max, the open world Far Cry installments and most likely other games I am probably forgetting. I will go over the elements taken from those games and how Days Gone handles said elements.
“The Last of Us Comparisons”
While I am still in the early stages of the game, the comparisons I can see between The Last of Us is in the form of characters who have done morally grey things, have beards and have lost people. That is where the comparisons stop as I haven’t really encountered anything else that is similar to The Last of Us as Days Gone is very non-linear and The Last of Us is extremely linear. The biggest comparison one can make is the crafting system which can be used to create Molotov cocktails, bandages, change whether a weapon has a suppressor and repairing melee weapons.
As you may already know based on gameplay videos on various game sites or video sites such as YouTube (thanks for the spoilers by the way) the game features a day and night cycle. I’ll say this as it is a unique way of handling the way the title is factored into the game: after a day has passed once you go into the pause menu it will give an amount of “Days Gone” and as you progress in the story the amount of in-game days that pass will be presented as “X amount of Days Gone”.
What I am about to write will sound very cheesy and nerdy but it is true, your Bike is your life. The best way to explain it is the scene in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones where Anakin loses his lightsaber during the bounty hunter pursuit on Coruscant and he finds Obi-Wan and his exact line is “This weapon is your life.” Well, in Days Gone without your bike you would be stuck in the middle of nowhere with Freakers, Rippers, and Marauders coming to git you sucka!
So when you are driving through say, a road that has an abundance of cars or gas near; I do not recommend, I COMMAND you, to get off your bike and inspect the hoods and trunks of the cars as you can find scrap in cars or even homemade silencers for your pistol. This is explained fairly quickly in the opening tutorial section of the game as you and another character are walking through a tunnel. In case you are low on ammo search the trunks of police vehicles as they are guaranteed to house ammunition for your firearms.
One of the things you are due to come into contact with are the zombie-like creatures in the game I previously mentioned: Freakers. They are infected humans and in some cases animals that were affected by the virus that is still ravaging the world. Even though they can be found randomly throughout the day/night cycle, they are mainly out in force during the nights which is where you can say, “Aha! This has elements of Dying Light in it,” and you are absolutely correct. What I do because I am a big ole scaredy cat wimp is, find my way to either Tucker or Copeland’s camp and catch some “Z’s” to skip the night environment. This works most of the time but certain missions will fast forward to night and that is where you must be careful as unsupressed weapons will draw Freakers and while that is the last thing you would want to do it can come in handy.
There are ambush camps throughout the game where hostile humans are hiding out and as the name suggests ambush people and take their gear which is something else seen in gameplay videos with various traps and such along the roads. So for example, you can go into an enemy camp and almost exclusively use melee combat so opposing forces use their weapons. This sews the seeds of their own downfall as I experienced a horde come through and absolutely devastate the ambush camp. Once ambush camps are completed you will find the hatch to the silo bunker which is magically at every camp. Oh well, I won’t nitpick.
Once you climb down you find a map which will unlock various things such as weapons, custom skins, and more. Afterwards it will become a makeshift player home with a bed and a weapon locker for you to change whatever loadout you have. Now on the other hand: Freaker hideouts which are commonly known as infestations work in a better way than the Plague Hearts worked in State of Decay 2. As opposed to getting infected by a plague zombie in State of Decay 2 and ultimately becoming a zombie; in Days Gone you simply craft a Molotov and fastball that bad boy into the muck encrusted area. Depending on the area, a small group can come out and you can dispatch them easily or, there is the famous infestation shown off a few years ago at Sony’s E3 2016 press conference that closed off the show.
One of the things I really love about this game is that the world is one that feels lived in. You can be going from one place to another and a sniper in a tall tree can shoot your bike and ultimately knock you on your arse and his ripper friends can try to take you out but my baseball bat covered in nails say otherwise. The weapon loadout is similar to most “realistic” survival horror games: you have a primary weapon, a sidearm, a melee weapon that will default to a knife if your weapon breaks, and a special weapon that will start off with a crossbow and can eventually lead into a light machine gun that was seen in the gameplay demo in said Sony E3 Conference.
The first mission in the game, which I will stay away from to avoid spoilers, will eventually come around to give you your first big choice in the game that will play out – your relationship with Cope’s camp or Tuck’s. This will introduce you to the currency system in game which is an improvement on the State of Decay currency which is based on trust the leaders of the respective camps have for you based on what you have done for them whether it’s sending survivors you come across in the world, to the camps or that first big decision in the game.
This also includes missions given to you by either Copeland or Tucker. Technically this isn’t a spoiler but Tucker’s camp is more of a labor work camp as she used to work in a prison before the world went into ruin. Copeland on the other hand is a truther. Which has a twist in the game as to whether or not the government is still around or if they even started the virus. Another thing I really enjoy is when Copeland is broadcasting on his Radio station and once he signs off Deacon will have some snarky thing to say about Copeland just being a crazy man.
Another thing that immerses you in this world is Deacon’s sort of/semi death wish whenever he kills Freakers. You will hear Sam Witwer, who is both the voice of Deacon St. John and does the motion capture as well, and this may in fact be my favorite role he’s had in a video game as everything else has been Star Wars related and with Days Gone it’s an original idea.
So that’s my thoughts on the early game of Days Gone. I am saddened to see the negative review scores out there but there is the old saying by Tommy Tallarico of Reviews on the Run and Electric Playground fame and that is about reviews being someone’s opinion and if you don’t like it you can go somewhere else and find one that speaks more to you than previous ones did.