Days Gone Review

Some games fly under the radar, some games are deemed a failure, and some split public opinion right in half. Days Gone from 2019 on the PlayStation 4 fits that narrative. Developed by Bend Studio and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, those who played Days Gone enjoyed it while Sony seemed to be disappointed with the sales numbers. Hop on your hog, we’re going for a ride in this Days Gone review! 

Days Gone Plot:

Days Gone features the ultimate rescue mission. A man, desperately searching for his wife who may or may not be alive. He’s given up almost all hope and is ready to accept her death until one small clue gives him insight that she may still be alive. Days Gone has a wide cast of characters, some well-written, some not. I’ll be diving deep into the plot of Days Gone so full spoilers will be ahead and I’ll be giving some insight into some decisions made with characters, something I don’t typically do. But let’s start at the beginning with Deacon St. John, our protagonist. 

At the start of the outbreak which was caused by a virus made in a lab, (Not in China, Can I make that joke yet?) Deacon is part of a motorcycle club. He previously served in the army but has since found fellowship with a motorcycle gang. They partake in illegal activities but he has a good heart. When the virus overtakes the world, his wife Sarah is stabbed by a child who is turning into a freaker. Deacon pleads with a helicopter to take her away as she won’t survive without immediate medical attention. The helicopter takes off while Deacon and his biker buddy, Boozer, are left behind as the city burns. The two escape and go into hiding as the world falls into chaos. At first, they try and head to the camp where the helicopter was taking Sarah, but when they arrive they find it destroyed by freakers with bodies everywhere. 

Days Gone takes place in Oregon, in the forests of the Northwest, although the outbreak has claimed the entire world. Now, Days Gone retells some relationships through flashbacks, especially Deacon and Sarah’s relationship and how they fell in love. Sarah was a botanist who inadvertently helped create the virus that destroys the world. They ended up getting together as Deacon helped her on the side of the road one day as her car is broken down. She starts to ride on his motorcycle and a relationship is created as they get married after some time. (Yes, I loved the ride me like your motorcycle line)

While Deacon is in the motorcycle gang, he must abide by strict rules or risk losing his membership. One gang member, named Jessie kills a man over a drug deal gone wrong. Jessie is then stripped of all his connections to the motorcycle gang including the numerous tattoos on his body which are burned off by a blow torch by Deacon and Boozer. As Deacon and Sarah become more involved, Deacon decided to become a Nomad of the gang, and spend less time with them and more time with Sarah. It upsets most of the gang, but Boozer still remains close friends with Deacon. 

Deacon and Boozer adjust to their new life making runs for camps and taking on special missions that are dangerous. They split their time between two camps including one run by Ada, a former warden of a prison, and Iron Mike who runs Lost Lake. Iron Mike is a man who is trying to rebuild and bring people together to fight off the horde. 

The horde of freakers decimates most of civilization but there’s a cult that has started up who semi worship the freakers. These cultists are called “Rippers” and are led by a man named Carlos. Rippers aren’t afraid of the freakers and often feed their victims to them. The Rippers shave their heads and mutilate their bodies with numerous cuts. They kidnap people and brainwash them by torture to join their cult. So, there’s a lot of hostility going on in the world of Days Gone. 

Deacon and Boozer are attacked by Rippers who severely damage Boozer’s arm, so much so that his life is in jeopardy. The two of them escape, but Boozer needs time to heal so he is couped up in a defense tower while Deacon continues to do runs for the camps. This isolation begins to take a toll on Boozer as he becomes paranoid, aggressive, and lonely. He falls into a deep depression, and Deacon does his best to keep Boozer positive about the outlook. While Boozer is recovering Deacon starts doing runs for different survivor camps until he comes across a NERO helicopter. 

NERO stands for National Emergency Restoration Organization. The goal of this organization is to study the freakers and learn as much as possible about them and the virus. Deacon tracks the helicopter and infiltrates a study zone full of NERO employees who are in hazmat suits. As he secretly holds one of the NERO members against their will for some questioning, Deacon realizes that the man he is speaking to named O’Brien is the same man that took Sarah in the helicopter the night of the outbreak. O’Brien reveals that the helicopter that Sarah was on was diverted to another camp, making it possible that Sarah could still be alive. 

Boozer’s arm continues to worsen so Deacon takes him to Lost Lake camp where the doctor amputates the arm to save Boozer’s life. Deacon continues to stay in contact with O’Brien who requests help from time to time in exchange for information on the potential outcome of Sarah. The Lost Lake camp where Boozer is now stationed has a truce with the Ripper Cult but is on the verge of breaking. One of the main characters in the camp is a white-trash wannabe gangster named Skizzo. Deacon and Skizzo do not see eye-to-eye and Skizzo goes behind everyone’s back and trades Deacon to the Rippers who were interested in Deacon. It turns out that the leader of the Rippers is Jessie, the man that Deacon and Boozer tortured and burned when he was removed from the motorcycle gang. 

Deacon escapes the Ripper camp and with the help of Boozer, blows up a damn that floods the Rippers killing most of them including Jessie. Skizzo is deemed untouchable despite his betrayal, and instead of being killed, is exiled from camp by Iron Mike. Continuing to dig up information on the possible whereabouts of Sarah with the help of O’Brien, Deacon heads to a militia camp where he discovers that Sarah is alive, and is working for the militia as a researcher. Deacon shows up at the camp, but he and Sarah can’t reveal that they know each other.

Sarah has been working on a bioweapon to stop the freakers once and for all as it’s been revealed by O’Brien that the freakers are evolving and only getting stronger. While she works on the bioweapon, Sarah refuses to leave the camp until it’s done so Deacon does work for the militia in the meantime. He meets the leader, Colonel Garret, who essentially is holding most researchers hostage as he prepares for a mass war against the freakers. Sarah tells Deacon that she isn’t working on a bioweapon, but a cure that might stop the spread and save the lives of those who have been turned. 

Skizzo has made his way to the militia camp and lies about Deacon’s past getting him arrested while the militia attacks the Lost Lake camp killing Iron Mike. Deacon is freed by a member of the militia who believes him and Deacon heads to Lost Lake to warn the camp that the Militia will be back in bigger numbers. Boozer, Deacon, and a few others go on a suicide mission to blow up the militia base. They succeed and Deacon is able to kill Skizzo and rescue Sarah. 

In the epilogue, Deacon is living at Lost Lake Camp with Boozer and Sarah when O’Brien contacts him. Deacon meets with O’Brien who lets him know that the virus is continuing to mutate and that more people are becoming freakers with advanced intelligence. O’Brien then unzips his suit and shows Deacon that he has become a freaker before leaping 20 feet in the air back on the helicopter announcing that NERO is coming. 

I enjoyed much of the plot during my Days Gone review, but there were a few things that bothered me. When Skizzo heads to the militia camp and clearly interacts with Sarah, was he not aware that she was the wife of Deacon? Deacon had been quite open at the Lost Lake Camp with a few members about wanting to find his wife named Sarah. Along with that, he has a GIANT neck tattoo of “Sarah”. Did no one at the militia connect the dots? Kouri was an officer at the militia camp where Deacon tells him his wife’s name is “Beth”, but did Kouri not see the huge tattoo of Sarah? Come on. 

It was poetic justice that Iron Mike was killed because of Skizzo. He let Skizzo go and is repaid by Skizzo again betraying the camp. That was a frustrating decision to watch, but Iron Mike is more forgiving than I am. 

Throughout most of the game, you are trying to get Boozer to want to live again. He is so depressed and you spend many missions trying to get him to want to continue his life. When the suicide mission came up, I was very annoyed that I spent so much time trying to get this man to live only for him to blow himself up in the truck bombing of the militia because the way it was shown, there was no chance he was surviving that blast. He does survive thankfully, but at that moment I was quite annoyed that he just blows himself up anyway after hours of trying to get him to live. 

For much of the majority of the game, the lesson of “teamwork” comes up and Deacon continues to say he can’t do this alone in destroying the militia in the finale. Meanwhile, the actual gameplay is Deacon by himself climbing up the militia mountain entirely by himself, killing 50 men, and then rescuing Sarah all by himself. I thought it was kind of dumb that the whole “I can’t do this by myself” angle was pounded into our heads just for Deacon to go alpha male on the militia anyway. 

Days Gone Gameplay:

Days Gone is an open-world adventure game where portions of the world are unlocked through a progression of missions. Deacon will do various quests ranging from bounty hunting, fetch quests, exploration, and clearing out hordes, as well as doing large-scale combat missions that involve killing many enemies. 

Perhaps the best part of my Day Gone review is the incredible feeling of riding your motorcycle through the wilderness and post-apocalyptic world. Deacon will ride his bike on every mission getting from point A to point B. It’s very satisfying to ride through the forests, or on the open road. The sound effects of the bike are realistic from the screeching of the rubber on pavement, sliding around in the mud, to the muffler backfiring on occasion. Days Gone serves as a perfect example of how to craft a fun way to travel on a large map. You can upgrade your bike throughout the game with credits at camps, but be careful on your long journies as you’ll need to fill up on gas whether that’s at a camp or an abandoned gas station. There’s no greater feeling in Days Gone than being on the open road or weaving your way through a horde of freakers on your bike.

When Deacon is in conversation with other characters, I came away impressed by the facial animations. If there was an inside joke or something he found funny, he’d give a smirk or smile. Voice acting is another positive for Days Gone. Each character has solid acting, especially Deacon and Sarah. The cut scenes felt dramatic and it was a nice change of pace to watch them unfold throughout my Days Gone Review. (And Yes, I’m one of the people that loved the line “Ride my like your motorcycle” during the vows) One character in particular that I found hilarious was Taylor. He was a millennial druggie but acted like a complete jackass in his humor, openly mocking or making jokes at Deacon. He was well-written and made me laugh. 

Combat is satisfying as you take on hordes, camps, or single enemies. Deacon makes good use of his military background and is proficient in guns. I enjoyed picking off enemies one by one with headshots as I snuck around the camps. When I infiltrated a camp, I knew that I would be the last one standing despite the numerous traps that were littered throughout the campgrounds. Combat in Days Gone is best done with a mixture of stealth and precision with guns. It was rare that I felt armed enemies had the upper hand or an unfair advantage. Some fights with major characters like Skizzo and Jessie were jokes. They took less than 10 seconds and were very disappointing fights that were not satisfying after making these characters so hateable. 

What I did not enjoy were the hordes. These massive trains of freakers were a pain to deal with and I avoided them at all costs. “Thinning out the horde” is a common statement in Days Gone and I wanted nothing to do with it. They made me uneasy and gave a slight horror element to the game as you would have to sneak around them, careful not to disrupt their slumber. While it made me uneasy, that wasn’t why I hated facing them. Horde battles take a long time, sometimes 15 minutes, with the longest horde battle that was required taking me almost an hour to defeat as I picked them off slowly, baiting them with me and then running away using guerilla tactics. It was not fun but instead felt like a very long chore. I can understand some people LOVING this gameplay element, but it just wasn’t for me. 

While I disliked fighting off hordes, I thought the realism shined through when I approached random camps and they were under attack by random freakers, cultists, or drifters. That seems like something that would happen in a post-apocalyptic world, so when I approached camps that were under attack, I gladly defended them. It wasn’t just freakers or drifters, sometimes you’d come across hungry wolves trying to get into camps. All of these encounters felt realistic and their inclusion was noted in my Days Gone review. 

One element of Days Gone that I adored was the connection to the Syphon Filter universe. It was created by most of the same people and they left a few easter eggs as surprises. The air taser may be the greatest weapon in video game history and I can’t tell you how many enemies I fried as a kid with it. It was a great nod to include it as an unlockable weapon. 

There were both many positives and negatives that I experienced during my Days Gone review. I’ll detail them as much as possible, with some being small complaints, to larger concerns. One of the smaller complaints I had, was the load times. On occasion, loading can take longer than expected, especially for a game released in 2019 on the PlayStation 4. 

Saving was a bit of another issue. When I saved the game, I expected it to be saved in that exact location but there were times when I’d save the game and it’d reload me at the point before a mission. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but I made a mental note to be careful when saving. 

Unfortunately, glitches occurred somewhat often in my Days Gone review and this was almost three years after the game came out. One NPC had his legs shaking all about and got stuck in a door that opened. Another dead body was pinned against a wall and eventually fell through, so half his body was inside the house and half of it was outside. Another glitch had an enemy’s body launching 20 feet into the air and then staying there like he was being possessed. 

The worst glitch I ran into, was during a crucial mission fighting a horde inside a cave. This part of the game was very difficult and it took me multiple tries to make it this far in the mission. I needed to completely clear a wave of a horde to trigger the next wave. During this part, you are in a tiny cave. You can set up boobytraps in preparation for the horde coming. The first wave, I was off to a great start barely using any traps and my health was in great shape. The problem was after the first wave was killed, the second wave didn’t trigger. I kept walking around for five minutes in this tiny area seeing if there was a freaker left but it was empty. The sounds of a freaker horde were there, but there were none to be seen. After searching for over ten minutes, I looked up on YouTube this section to see if I had missed something and that’s when I knew that a trigger wasn’t happening. 

I had to restart that mission which really pissed me off because it was the most difficult of the game. As much as I hate glitches, I can forgive some but when it comes to a huge title with a lot of testers, debuggers, and patches, I expect the game to be in good shape. Replaying a difficult level and losing all progress because something won’t trigger was beyond frustrating. 

Some enemies just felt cheap. I hated riding my motorcycle on the highway or roads and some random sniper just picks me off. There were times when it was just one guy, a lone wolf out shooting at me. When gangs attacked in groups, I understood it but when there was a lone gunman, it was more frustrating. 

Other enemies that were cheap were the grizzly bears. I often invaded camps and raided them for supplies or to collect a bounty. Sneaking around the camp was fun until a giant bear would sneak up on you! I don’t have a problem with the bear sneaking around and attacking you but the bear only chases you. If you run into the camp it will chase you but only seek you out instead of causing chaos and attacking the other humans. It didn’t feel realistic that a bear would just chase one person in a crowd of 20. 

There was a bit of an issue with smoothing and loading full textures. When I entered militia camps, on occasion the flags were pixelated. These might not seem like big deals but when you want to be immersed in a game when you notice that objects haven’t loaded correctly, it takes you out of that mindset. 

Days Gone Review Score:

really wanted to love Days Gone and went in with a positive mindset that I was about to experience an amazing game. While there are a lot of good things about Days Gone, there are numerous nagging issues in the gameplay that stopped it from becoming a megahit in my book. It’s a good game, but not a great one. 

Days Gone scores a 7.5 out of 10. 

What would you write in your Days Gone review? Do you feel the game was under the radar or were the critics justified? Who was your favorite character in Days Gone? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Days Gone, I’d love to read them. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: