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The Really, REALLY, Late Days Gone Review

March 7, 2020

     For readers of this blog (all five of you), you might remember that WAAAAAAAY back in March of last year, I went to a Sony event for Days Gone (you can read about it here), where I got to play Days Gone for a bit, interviewed a couple of the devs, and got a really cool beer glass out of it. I'd planned on purchasing Days Gone on day one so I could review it right out of the gate. That didn't happen because life. So, I wasn't able to play until recently, but I did play the whole thing, even earning the Platinum trophy. So, is Days Gone worth playing? The short answer, yes. Days Gone is a good game that is definitely worth playing. It is not a great game, and there are places it could use some improvement, but we'll get there.

     So, for a quick reminder, Days Gone is an open-world survival horror game where you play as Deacon St. John, an Army Veteran and a prominent member of a local biker gang. For unknown reasons, some type of virus turned most of the population into rage zombies called Freakers. The emotional crux of the story is Deacon dealing with the death of his wife Sarah and coming to terms with it. There's a greater story arc in there, but I can't say too much without spoiling it. Suffice to say, the major conflicts are with Freakers, other humans, and Deacon regaining his humanity after spending two years taking out his grief on Freakers. Some of the twists I saw coming, and others I didn't. Some things worked really well, and others could have been pulled off better. We learn about Deacon's relationship with his wife through a series of flashbacks, and while it doesn't have the emotional weight as the father/daughter relationship of Joe and Ellie from The Last of Us, it has its moments. For all his flaws, Deacon was a very devoted husband.

     Gameplay wise Days Gone is a mix of stealth, shooting, crafting and riding around on your motorcycle, which is of course upgradable. The stealth and shooting is fine, if fairly standard. Crafting is where this game could have used some more time. In order to craft, you have to access a wheel menu (much like Red Dead Redemption 2). The thing is, for crafting you have to access a sub-menu which has a habit of not lining up with what you want to craft. As a result, crafting is much more frustrating than it needs to be. The game itself runs smoothly most of the time, but there were a handful of times I encountered bugs, or the game outright crashed on me.

     And finally, the Freakers. Are they as hard to fight as they were in the demo I played? Yes, yes they are, and it's easy to get overwhelmed if you're not careful. Taking on hordes in particular needs planning and preparation. It's a challenge you won't be ready to tackle until close to the endgame.

Days Gone isn't the most original game, it has some bugs, and could be about ten hours shorter. That said, it's a good game, I enjoyed it, and the setting has a lot of potential that went underutilized this go-round. I sincerely hope it gets a sequel, because I'd like to see what the devs can do with more time, a bigger budget, and the feedback they've received.

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