Days Gone review: was it worth the three-year wait?
Post-apocalyptic zombie survival game boasts an impressive world, but can it hold a candle to The Last of Us?
After a near three-year wait, Sony has released its new zombie apocalypse game Days Gone on the PlayStation 4.
Announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 2016, the game puts players in the shoes of an outlaw biker after the outbreak of a virus that has turned the world’s population into mindless zombie-like creatures called Freakers.
Now that Days Gone is on store shelves, we’ve been spending some time with it to see if it was worth the wait.
Zombie apocalypse games may have been done to death, but it’s always fascinating to see how developers approach the genre to give fans of slaying the undead a truly unique experience.
The Last of Us is one of the greatest zombie titles of all time, where players take control of Joel, a smuggler. He has to take Ellie - a teenage girl who claims to have been infected by a zombie-like virus - across a post-apocalyptic version of the US.
As The Last of Us was published under the Sony banner, hopes were high when the games giant launched biker-themed zombie game Days Gone last week.
Beware: very mild spoilers ahead.
The game gets off to a promising start. Lead character Deacon St John races to get his injured wife Sarah and best friend Boozer on to a medical camp-bound helicopter. Once there, he’s told that there is only enough room for two people. Deacon therefore opts to remain on the ground with Boozer, surrounded by zombie-like Freakers, while his wife is flown to the camp.
The screen fades to black and the game jumps forward two years. You catch up with Deacon and Boozer, who are trying to make ends meet in post-apocalyptic America.
At this point, you’re left with some big questions: Who exactly is Deacon? And what are the Freakers?
These, of course, would all be revealed in time, but it was frustrating that we still didn’t have the answers after a few hours of gameplay.
What we do learn, though, is that Deacon and Boozer are bikers, and that their motorbikes play a key role in the game.
The vehicles are your primary form of travel, a bit like your horse in Red Dead Redemption 2. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock new parts and colour schemes for your bike to make it your own. It’s a unique feature that stands out in a game that takes a lot of features from other games.
Seasoned video gamers will notice elements from the Tomb Raider series, The Last of Us and Horizon Zero Dawn. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though it doesn’t make the game feel all that original.
On a more positive note, the post-apocalyptic US is utterly beautiful and you don’t need a PlayStation 4 Pro to appreciate it. The rural setting is a welcome change from other zombie games, which are often set in war-torn cities. There’s also a dynamic weather system, which makes the environment feel more alive.
As you explore, you’ll stumble across hordes of Freakers all over the world. The game’s map will even warn you if there’s an area that’s particularly dense with zombies, so you can avoid it if your weapons aren’t up to scratch.
What makes Freakers interesting is that they react a bit like animals. The majority will see you as a threat and charge towards you, while some will keep their distance - provided you don’t get too close.
We just wish Deacon was as interesting and multifaceted as the world that surrounds him. In fact, we found Boozer to be a more likeable character. While Deacon seems to fight for the greater good, he comes across as a generic one-sided computer game hero.
If you’re looking for a story-driven zombie fix before The Last of Us: Part II arrives - either later this year or in 2020 - then Days Gone may be worth a look.
But for those on the hunt for a blockbuster game with all the polish of Sony’s recent titles, such as the wonderful Marvel’s Spider-Man, Days Gone may leave you wanting more.
Release date and where to order
Days Gone is available to order now from Amazon for just over £50.