Title: Days Gone
Developer: Bend Studio
Release Date: May 17, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Days Gone had a mixed reception from players when it launched on PS4 in 2019. Developer Bend Studio seemed to have a clear vision for what they were creating, but sadly, I couldn’t find time to realize what that was and only experienced the opening hours of gameplay. With the PC release, I decided to go all in and see what this adventure offers. Plus, I get to play it with graphical options, and any quality-of-life updates added post-launch.
Days Gone has an awkward way of telling a story. The game begins with Deacon’s wife getting stabbed and some tough dude named Boozer third-wheeling. The world around them seems to be at war as zombie-like creatures roam the streets. Deacon is able to get Sarah to an evacuation helicopter, which is full until he threatens the official with a gun, and it works. Sarah is whisked away in the helicopter, and we are sent two years into the future.
The opening moments of gameplay for Days Gone are messy. There’s very little to care about and no reason for the player to even be part of this. I was at a constant state of, “who’s that?” and “what the hell?” for the first 2 hours of gameplay, it seemed. However, something happens as you play, and you begin to slightly understand these characters and the complexities surrounding their personalities. Deacon has some serious issues with loss, and his limited mental state affects his actions. He’s impulsive and careless, but what’s worse is that everyone wants to take advantage of his abilities to survive.
I began to feel sorry for Deacon as his past demons pop up, and after a while, I even understood the opening moments of the game. It’s not an adequate way to tell a story by any means and requires the player to be present during all story missions and conversations to grasp who these characters are, but it works, and I was invested.
The gameplay has you going through story missions mainly provided by the camps of survival scattered around Oregon. The world has spiraled downhill as zombie-like creatures known as Freakers roam the open-world map. There are also other enemies such as military groups and Rippers, who are exceptionally annoying yet the most satisfying to take down.
The world never felt empty to me, and I was always in a state of discovery. The map isn’t too large, which seemed to allow the developers to fill it with as many points of interest as possible. What also stood out to me is how I never felt safe, even when I was fully stocked up with items and ammo. There’s a threat that a group of Freakers could attack you at any point, but I could also use that to clear out camps easier and conserve resources.
This idea of immersion plays into the adventure, but everything isn’t explained at once. You have your bike, which is the major way to get around this world. Players are expected to care about this bike as much as Deacon, which works in some ways. For starters, the bike will need repairs, and it will need gas. However, instead of treating this as a negative, I saw it as a way to force me to pay attention to my surroundings and explore areas for gas or scrap. I knew there were some complaints about the bike at launch, but I didn’t have a bad experience with it. Perhaps there was post-launch updates that improved it.
Customization is also here as players can upgrade their bike and Deacon’s abilities. Completing optional tasks will also unlock new weapons customizations created from an inventory wheel out of materials found throughout the world. It’s awkward to navigate at first, but I was getting by just fine after a few hours.
The PC version of Days Gone offers numerous video options for players who want the most out of this experience. I can’t really compare it against the PS4 release, but I thought the game looked great. Further, players can play with unlocked framerates, ultra-wide monitor support, and increased field of view to see as much of the world as possible, which is arguably one of the game’s strongest features.
The PC version also includes New Game Plus and various gameplay modes to play outside of the campaign. These modes are fun if you enjoy the gameplay and just wish to test your skills, but most of the game’s offerings come from the main campaign. There’s also a decent amount of quality-of-life options such as quitting to desktop in the menu and several save options that make it clear Sony developers known how to make a PC game.
Days Gone requires that the player invests themselves in the story. After all, this is a game, and Bend seems to have a proper balance of when to be immersive and when to just have players enjoy the world and shoot some enemies. Enemy AI isn’t perfect as they lack any sense of working together or even moving positions after taking cover. Still, on the other hand, I’m not sure I would want to deal with that on top of all the other survival systems put into place. I was here to play a game, and that’s what I got.
If you’re going to play Days Gone, do yourself a favor and play it on PC. There’s a decent level of options here for PC players to fine-tune their experience and even quality-of-life features missing from other PC-only titles. The story can be messy, but the more you progress, the clearer the intent of this staggered narrative becomes. The level of immersion is high in some areas, but Days Gone knows when to be a game and when to challenge the player’s patience with mundane systems. This game is a must for survival action fans.
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