Days Gone Review
Days Gone is finally on PC as a part of Sony sharing some of its exclusive titles like Horizon Zero Dawn. The open-world zombie survival game came out in 2019 to a lukewarm reception for a variety of issues. The question is, has its adaptation into PC fixed any of these problems? The short answer is yes!
The long answer is a bit more complicated. As many improvements were made, some core issues are still present. Nothing major about Days Gone feels new or unique; if you’ve played another American triple-A open-world game, you’ve played Days Gone. However, that’s not as damning as it sounds. For all its cliches, Days Gone still manages to be entrancing. There is a reason why this gameplay is popular, after all.
Great Acting, Clumsy Writing
Don’t get me wrong, the writing on Days Gone isn’t necessarily bad. The characters are compelling, and the dialogue is especially well written, supported by some top-tier performances by the actors. The problem lies in the structure of the plot, which feels meandering and duct-taped together.
The story follows the biker Deacon St.John as he attempts to survive the post-apocalypse with his best friend, Boozer. Deacon’s backstory revolves around the death of his wife, which, although compelling, doesn’t help out the cliched trend of countless male protagonists based on the tragic loss of their female partners/children in an already cliched zombie genre.
You motorbike around the beautifully realized mountains of Oregon, surviving and taking jobs for the few remaining human holdouts lead by charismatic figureheads with their own antagonisms. Meanwhile, you are trying to deal with your past and figure out what had happened. Once it gets going, the story is quite exciting, but that’s the problem: it needs to get going.
At certain points, I felt like I was watching bad television. There are so many moments that feel like filler episodes that I have to work through to get to the good stuff. The story stays just interesting enough with little teases, but I wish it didn’t meander for so long.
Structurally, the plot is a bit of a mess as well. You only need to play ten minutes to get what I mean; Days Gone has one of the most clumsy openings I’ve ever seen in a triple-A title. Once you select play, it thrusts you right into an intense flashback with absolutely no introduction, then cuts right into another entirely unrelated chase scene in the present. It takes a very long time for players to truly gain control of Deacon and get an idea of what is happening in the world and the very character you are playing. Man, I get wanting to get to the interesting stuff early, but this isn’t the way to do it, especially if the pacing it is going for is meant to be slow.
Blessed PC Improvements
Amongst the biggest problems of the original release were to do with its technical limitations and a variety of bugs. I’m happy to report that most of these issues have been fixed for the PC port, and Days Gone runs absolutely beautifully. The game looks stunning, with settings turned up to max. I didn’t experience any fluctuations nor terrible load times on the optimization side as it did on the PS4—and I didn’t even install it on my SSD. It also seems like they put in some considerable effort in fixing many of the bugs too. As much as the game was criticized for game-breaking glitches, I didn’t experience any major issues with the PC release.
Gameplay-wise, I really feel like Days Gone is infinitely superior on the PC then PS4. The often hated gunplay of the original, in my opinion, is the best and most unique aspect of Days Gone now—the unwieldy and inaccurate guns of the apocalypse work with the additional control you have on PC.
My favorite part of the guns is that, unlike most other shooters, your first shot isn’t pinpoint accurate, but you can make it accurate with patience. When you first aim with your weapon, your aiming reticle is large, but the longer you hold your aim, you will notice your reticle shrink. This means that taking a deep breath and making slow, accurate shots is your best bet in Days Gone. This gets incredibly difficult with hordes of zombies breathing down your neck. I feel like this was the intended gunplay by the developers, but it just didn’t translate on consoles.
Perfectly Executed Cliche
The open-world of Days Gone is stunning, full of things to do and stories to tell. But of course, the problem is, that’s not really a unique thing anymore. With games like GTA, Red Dead, Horizon Zero Dawn, a well-executed open world isn’t something that wows me anymore. But still, I can’t take away the fact that it is incredibly well done. It’s just that I wanted something more, something memorable.
There are honestly only so many bases I can clear of raiders, scraps to scrounge, things to craft, treasures to check off on the long list before I feel like it is all meaningless. I also think this feeling is especially exacerbated because I’ve played all these other great open-world games in the past with the exact same side missions.
But why, oh, why do I still feel compelled to go back and play the game? As I said before, Days Gone feels like bad TV. It has no substance, but goddamn is it nice just to relax and follow along with the story and its hypnotizing gameplay loops. There are definitely better games out there, but without a doubt, Days Gone is a perfectly entertaining title to waste a week in.
***PC review code provided by the publisher***
- Amazing Voice Acting
- Beautifully Realized Open-world
- Interesting Gunplay
- Nothing Unique
- Clumsy Storytelling
- Full of Busywork