Days Gone is a game. That’s the nicest thing I can say right now as I am currently knee deep in the shit that is the Oregon landscape that makes up Bend Studio’s most ambitious attempt at an open world game. While I haven’t had a full weekend’s worth of time to play, I have spent enough in game hours to form a growing opinion.
And that opinion is, meh.
It’s not that Bend Studios’ Days Gone is just another post-apocalyptic game set to the tune of zombies, marauders and government interference. For me, it feels like Bend Studios tried combining two iconic games into one big pile of semi decent stuff. Those two iconic games being The Last of Us and Red Dead Redemption.
The story overall is bleak.
The main character, Deacon, and his buddy Boozer are looking to head North but can’t after a run of bad luck leaves them bike-less and with one burnt arm. You run a myriad of odd jobs for credits, trust in various camps and continue to do so until the game drives you insane, I’m assuming.
The zombies, or Freakers as they’re known around Bend Studio, give you a real sense of panic as they skulk around looking for something to rip apart. I have played most of the missions in stealth, so far, because the AI is no joke. If one Freaker spots you and screams, more will follow. Also, if you use a melee weapon, there is a certain amount of noise generated that always brings more Freakers to the party.
Hoardes and The Last of Us
Infestations and hordes give this game’s horror element a great boost as the tension feels incredibly real. However, for me at least, that horror feels very similar to that of the Clickers in The Last of Us. Those monsters truly makes the game jarring, much like the Freakers roaming around the Pacific Northwest.
Where does Red Dead Redemption fit in?
Why, everywhere else of course! The focus shot, the way you tool around on a bike, the way you skin animals, the freedom to save, kill or leave random question marks all over the map… it ALL smacks of Red Dead. It’s not completely terrible to emulate something when it has solid controls, because that is one thing that Bend Studios nailed, but it’s another thing when you lift the basic quest mechanics from one of the year’s most popular video games.
After reading the Kotaku review of Days Gone, I questioned just how long could this game possibly be when all your doing is essentially raiding shit to get other shit. Thanks to the overuse of tiny HD text, I’m not exactly sure how far along I’m with the main questline, but I do know I’m already tired of dealing with the same shenanigans outside of the main story.
On top of that, there are certain aspects to the game that don’t sit well:
You can’t fast travel without using gas (I get it, but the amount of attention you must pay to your gas tank is annoying)
You don’t heal after resting (Every god damn game that utilizes this mechanic heals you upon waking up, why would Bend want to be the exception to this?)
Traps are invisible until it’s too late (bear traps, noise chords and a fucking snare that puts you in a secret room like the one in Dead Rising. Fuck all of that!)
Wolves suck! (Seriously, if you hear a random howl at any point, hit the nitro booster or run like hell)
My copy of Days Gone will eventually get traded in for credit towards Borderlands 3, that much is certain. Until then, I will try to appreciate the hard work that went into creating a visually stunning game while forgetting that I waffled on the 48 hour return-for-full-credit deal.