We now live in the world where any game with a Metacritic rating below 88, is considered a ‘flop’, as many a good game in the past decade has been degraded to an undesirable status simply for not being God of War, Bloodborne, or a PlayStation 4 exclusive for that matter. However, the fact of the matter is that any game with a rating above 50, is above average, and in many ways, is simply ‘good’ and the recently released Days Gone, the highly anticipated PlayStation 4 exclusive, is exactly such a game.
Days Gone, may not be the world beater which many have expected it to be. It is not highbrow entertainment, the like of God of War; nor is it the landscape altering experience the like of Tetris. But the truth is, Days Gone is simply a good, if not a great game and this review will tell you exactly why that is the case.
When it comes to its visuals, for the most part, Days Gone is simply second to none. The fidelity of the Oregon, which Sony Bend has meticulously recreated, is so exceptional, that it borders on complete realism. From mass NERO graves, through dense forests and picturesque plains, all the way down to scorched lands and snowy mountain peaks, the world of Days Gone is simply breath-taking. If you ever stop in the middle of desolate road to take a picture, using the title’s incredibly complex, in-depth photo mode, you can take a screenshot, which could fool many into thinking that such has been taken in real life, and not within a video game.
In addition to the natural landscapes, Days Gone is also full of abandoned small-time towns, roadside establishments, and many camps occupied by both hostiles, and friendly NPCs and those, just like Days Gone’s landscapes, are just as hauntingly beautiful and possess a depth that can’t be found in many other titles. What makes all those even better, is that they are more than just scenery. Friendly camps are full of characters, which are constantly conversing with Deacon, the main protagonist of Days Gone, about the current events or many of his rather super-hero like actions and all the other compounds, camps, and towns that have been reclaimed by either freakers, or many of the title’s other antagonists.
Marauders, Rippers, Anarchists, Drifters, DC Militia, and many more, are spread across Days Gone’s rendition of Oregon, and they all pose an ever-growing and diverse threat to the protagonists. Feral-like Rippers are known to rush the player down with melee weapons and submachine guns; Anarchists use traps, alarms systems and flanking to take Deacon down; whereas Marauders use armour and the numbers game in order to overwhelm the player.
The sheer diversity of threat and challenge which all the factions, and freakers alike pose to the player is simply astounding. Once it is combined with the multitude of freaker archetypes, such as Swarmers, Breakers, Screamers, Newts and more, it results in an experience which never allows one to get bored as the more you play, the more the gameplay evolves. The intensity of the gameplay evolves even further once you add to the mix the title’s hostile wildlife and scavengers, which are waiting for the player all over the world with deadly traps and ambushes.
The core gameplay loop of Days Gone is simply superb, as it is constantly evolving. What makes it even better, is the heavy and impactful gunplay which allows the player to feel the weight and impact of every fired bullet. However, the gunplay is very The Last of Us-esque, meaning that without any of the skills unlocked, is designed to work against the player, rather than in his/her favour. Sure, by the time you reach Iron Mike’s camp you will become a bona fide killing machine, but before then, you may have some issues with the rather heavy aiming mechanics and the overly punishing recoil.
Days Gone is a rather lengthy game, as to complete all of its core content, it will take you anywhere between sixty, to eighty hours and because of how the game is split into two parts, it can feel like you are playing two thirty hour long games. The first part of Days Gone has you combat an ever impending threat of a certain faction and the second has you on a mission to accomplish a certain goal. While both parts of the title are superb, the transition between the two can be a little deflating, and even disappointing to some, as once you reach the title’s Southern regions, you are locked out of the northern ones – and cannot return until you have completed the game.
Locking content behind invisible walls can be seen as cheap and unnecessary and Days Gone tries its best to justify it with its narrative. But once you play the title for yourself, you will notice the fact that there are many ways in which Deacon’s return to Northern Oregon, could have been easily justified during the title’s second act. But it is what it is, and if you are yet to play Days Gone, and want to ensure that you have experienced the title in its entirety before the final credits roll, then you should be aware of the content locks, which in 2019, feel a little unnecessary.
Besides the abovementioned content lock, Days Gone also features a handful of other rather baffling design decisions, which may leave some wanting more. One of the more peculiar ones, is the fact that a sizeable number of the title’s missions has you listen to 30 second long speeches, or watch a minute long cutscene and in truth, at times you can spend more time looking at the loading screen, than actually ‘playing’ some missions. Also the core narrative of Days Gone features a heavy dose of padding, as certain mainline quests have you clear hostile camps, hunt down bounties, or gather some supplies, simply for the sake of extending the playtime.
The mainline missions of Days Gone are great. They are cinematic, intense, and most importantly entertaining. As the assault on a certain faction’s stronghold, undercover recon deep in enemy territory and some of the other quests which I don’t want to explain in detail for the sake of avoiding spoilers, are simply second to none. But those either come in bulk, and put you on a two-to-three hour thrill ride, or are spaced out so thinly and sparse, that they feel like they’ve been added just so you don’t just spend ten hours straight clearing out Marauder camps, and watching cutscenes.
The pacing of Days Gone is surely one of its mainline issues. As the game in question, does take a little to get going. Sure, it’s no Final Fantasy XIII, which expects you to play for fifteen hours before anything starts happening, but if you buy days gone, you should probably be aware that for the first two to three hours, your experience will be rather limited, as the game will have you follow a very strict narrative path. Once it gets truly going though, it’s great, but as I’ve mentioned above, the core experience of Days Gone does feature a heavy dose of padding and instead of seamlessly flowing, it kinda’ jitters along – all the way down to the final credits.
If you looked up Days Gone on Twitter, Facebook, Google, or even Bing, you would have surely came across an abundance of videos featuring some of the title’s glitches and other imperfections. The post-launch version 1.04, and especially 1.05 which has just released, are rather free of any of the bugs which you may have seen online, as during the 40 or so hours which I’ve spent with the game, I have only encountered one, rather immersion breaking bug, where an NPC which I was following, has fallen through the ground – and straight to his death.
Bugs and glitches may not be as common within Days Gone now, as they were prior to the official launch, but the title at hand still does suffer from some rather glaring performance related issues. For one, the framerate, on the standard PlayStation 4 slim likes to crunch, and fall significantly below 30 frames – especially just after fast travelling. But surprisingly enough, framerate is borderline perfect when fighting 250 freaker strong hordes – which is strange to say the least.
In addition to the above, the latest patch has seemingly introduced an issue where Days Gone refuses to load-in certain textures. No matter how long you’ll wait, those will not load-in, until you quit to the main menu. While missing textures may not troublesome, then it has to be said that within Days Gone those are incredibly painful to look at, as having to look at a 240p car, with a backdrop of a picturesque, and haunting 1080p forest is incredibly painful to look at. This issue is not just limited to objects, as just yesterday, I have seen it affect roads, NPCs, and even Deacon himself.
The review scores of Days Gone range all the way down from 5/10, all the way up to 9/10 and yes, Slant did give Days Gone a 3/10. If I were to take into consideration all that I have written about, in relation to Days Gone, then I’d have to agree with those who awarded the title some of its higher scores, because ultimately, Days Gone is an incredible game which utilizes some of the open world genre’s best features and interlinks them with a plethora of its own additions. However, the current technical state of the game, and its inconsistent pacing, do prevent it from reaching the top mark. But I feel like my score represents the title best, as it shows that it is a great game, which is heads above most modern AAA open-world experiences, but it is also one which is not devoid of flaws and imperfections.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Days Gone Review
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
Days Gone may not be the highbrow successor to God of War which Sony wanted or expected, but it is a great title regardless – even with its flaws taken into consideration.