So I just finished up with Days Gone and it is my first platinum of 2019, bringing my total to 52 now.
I usually let that be a measure of how much I loved a game, but with Days Gone that is not the case. Not even 100% sure why I persisted to get it after the game was over really.
Now that is not to say Days Gone is bad, but I saw a review that really nailed it in one statement.
“Days Gone should have been called AAA The Video Game”
Because it checks all the boxes, it misses nothing.
Good story, huge open world, lots to do, lots of meaningful side quests, good progression system, decent NPCs, ok combat, etc, etc.
But notice how in that statement I never said great.
That is Days Gone in a nutshell.
It does everything just ok, and it is hands down the best mediocre game I have every played (use that as a backhanded box quote if you like), but never excels past OK.
It never falters in its design, but it never moves the genre forward either.
I am not one about change in video games. If you have a system that is great, do not remake the whole franchise from the ground up next game (I am looking at you Square-Enix) take the good and cut the bad.
But Days Gone just never gets passed the status quo.
It never does anything wrong, but it never does anything overly right.
I know this may sound a bit cryptic, but it is a tough game to explain, because on one hand, it compelled me to play ti to 100%, on the other I look back and thing Meh, that was OK.
While I wanted to know more about the world and how this zombie end of days came to pass, for the vast majority of the people in it, I simply didn’t care.
It was very cliche, you had all the typical zombie genre tropes. The good camp set on making the world a better place, the crazy slaver lady using refugees as slave labor, the crazy conspiracy theory camp, the militia camp and the nut-bag Zombie worshiper faction.
All of which we have seen in most zombie genres since we have had zombie movies and games.
And that is just it, Days Gone never really tried to excel, tried to break the norm genre bar that has been set for decades.
That is, until the 60th hour (yes Days Gone is bloody long) when there is a mind-blowing reveal as a mission only available after 100% of the missions are complete.
Something that turn the game and the genre on its head, and makes me want to play Days Gone 2 now.
I wont spoil anything here, but I implore you to play this to the bitter end even once the credits roll, it is really worth the pay off.
All the games NPC threads get tied up post game which is weird.
When the credits rolled I was left asking “well what about Mike, what about Lisa, what happened to O’Brian” and all that gets answered in the proceeding 10 odd side missions.
The core game itself is also a perfectly made mediocre shooter / sneaking game.
With Assassin’s Creed like sneaking in bushes and hit and run tactics if you get caught cleaning out an enemy camp.
The game is built around stealth when dealing with human players, but in the later half of the game I found little difficulty walking into a camp and just shooting people left right and center, so it was a bit game breaking and jarring. IT went from tactical stealth shooter to run and gun in an instant. When you realize there is no benefit to sneaking around after you kill the first 100 people in stealth for a trophy, then it kinda feels like you broke the game and are not playing like the developer intended.
One of the coolest features of the game though that is original, is your motorcycle. This is the equivalent to a good NPC companion.
You level it up via upgrades that are gated behind camp friendship level. Do more for a camp, the more things you can buy from them. From shocks to fuel tank upgrades, engine, frames, etc. All helping give you speed and traction to traverse all over Oregon.
One pro tip I learned at the 60 hour mark when looking to find a way to get my last trophy (a weird one where you have to boost and drift for 5 seconds) and I come to find you can teleport your bike anywhere on the map wit the press and hold of Square…. That would have helped save hours of walking back to my bike after taking out a Ambush base… /facepalm.
Nowhere in the games menus or loading screens did it mention this tip, wtf guys!!!!
The game visuals are top notch here too. With full well done HDR support, the game though dark at times really shines with properly calibrated HDR.
Dark caves offer up dancing shadows and dark yet visible corners.
Day and night cycles look perfect in HDR, with moonlight breaking through the trees and casting shows through a forest.
Another standout is the weather system, it will drizzle, rain, thunderstorm and snow, all of which dynamically change the environment.
Stand still in a camp while it is snowing and you can see the ground slowly change from brown and muddy to snow covered in a few mins. Also affecting bike traction I might add.
This is where Days Gone shines, on the little things, the stuff that makes the world more human and real. Sadly the things we may take for granted and ignore.
Lastly is the sound presentation.
Days Gone may be one of the best games I have ever heard in simulated Atmos.
Rain storms completely fill the top of the theater in sound, you can hear the rain falling, here it pinging off tin roofs and thudding on traditional ceilings. It was a real pleasure to listen to.
The only thing that suffered a bit was like most games, the dialog with NPC in front of you could sometimes be too low, yet if you swung around and put them standing behind you, they were loud and clear, and no, this is not due to a poorly calibrated theater, all my speakers are done via Audyssey and then hand tweaked with a SPL meter. So they are balanced.
It is sadly the nature of the game, and it happens in about 50% of the games I play. No clue why, but it must be a mixing thing.
All in all Days Gone was a fun time, but never wowed me, never pulled me in and made me race home from work to play, it just tops out as OK, and sometimes, that is OK too.
A decent 7.5/10, could have been much higher if they reached a bit more. A must have for Zombie genre fans, as there is nothing else out there quiet like it.