Days Gone is one of those once-PlayStation-only exclusives I missed back in the day because it looked a lot like pretty much anything else post-apocalyptic that I had played, namely that I already had my mind blown by that type of world with The Last of Us. But Does Days Gone really differentiate itself from other games with its open world and focus on bike riding?
It all works, but with virtually no differentiation.
Let’s get the good things out of the way first. This is probably the best feel for riding a bike that I’ve had in a game. It may not be realistic, but if it were, we’d all be eating dirt constantly. Instead, it’s quite simply a joy. The other good thing is taking on hordes which requires actual strategy and is thus the only challenge in the entire game. While this was heavily advertised, I want to give you the fair warning that it’s actually a late game activity. That’s because a lot of skills you need to do it effectively take time to unlock. And this is where the snowball of not-good things begins. The skills mostly made little difference UNTIL you’re taking on the hordes, as if the skills menu was attempting to gatekeep you from taking them on too early and cashing in. The snowball into mediocrity continues into the shooting which feels rather generic and lower budget for reasons I can’t quite nail down. The snowball then rings the front door with mediocrity when you are forced into things you’ve seen used ad nauseum in every other big budget game: slow cinematic walks, requiring a person to boost up to a higher ledge, holding a button to investigate, squeezing through gaps, using a shockingly familiar “vision” mode, and then suddenly you realize how familiar the game becomes when you’re going through buildings to find supplies. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Of course it does, because you likely played The Last of Us before this released. The only variation you get are far and few between with elite freaks, some of which did surprise me. So outside of the joy of riding your bike and fighting hordes in the late game, pretty much everything else is something you’ve seen before, done again. It all works, but with virtually no differentiation.
…full game here, no question about it.
Let’s get the good thing out of the way first: the core campaign is way longer than you think. By the time you have upgraded your bike and have a good set of guns on you, you’re likely near the 30-hour mark and heading into the late game which will easily encompass another 5+ hours. Of course, this takes doing some side missions in order to have the upgrading funds, and in doing so you expose a larger map than you thought you would be moving about at speed. Rest assured there is a proper, full game here, no question about it.
The game does look good when you consider it was built last gen…
Let’s get the bad things out of the way first. Deacon doesn’t know when to shut up. Yes, I understand that it’s “part of his character to talk to himself”, but it’s not done correctly. Instead, it comes across as a voice actor that loves the sound of their own voice. I’d easily say 90% of anything and everything you do gets narrated by your own character, and it’s just obnoxious and includes unnecessarily awkward conversations. The other bad thing is that I had various bugs and glitches that I could not reproduce: they simply happen when they happen with eff-it-all randomness. And that pervades into the reality that this is still a game built for last gen hardware, particularly in draw distance issues and strange loading screens between cinematic sequences. Sure, nothing here was game breaking, but it all screams “AA” development. And therein lies an interesting segue into the positives. The game does look good when you consider it was built last gen, and the time-of-day passing as well as weather changeups while riding simply look and feel near-perfect. Then we get into the story, and while it does properly develop some characters and has moments of real meaning, the more important thing is to emphasize that this game is more focused on the human condition rather than the virus. Sure, it covers the virus, but never in true clarity which was maybe meant to lead into a sequel. And that leads perfectly into the last section of this review.
…most of the game is copy-paste
Call me crazy: I don’t want a sequel. That’s not because there isn’t room for improvement, but because this game has little to call its own without needing major changes. With a handful of adjustments, it could be transplanted into the universe of The Last of Us as a spinoff, and that doesn’t bode well for its identity. You see, here’s what’s really crazy: the only bad things are namely the incessant talking of the main character and the fact that most of the game is copy-paste. So while the game itself isn’t “bad”, it’s an example of the contradictory statement, “perfectly mediocre”.