What’s the single biggest headache for a grizzled survivor trying to eke out an existence in the zombie apocalypse? Turns out it’s not killing rabid flesh-eating zombies, but trying to find enough gas for your motorcycle. Days Gone ticks all the required boxes in a modern open-world action game, but its slightly routine gameplay and annoying design choices in the name of “realism” keep it from being a top-tier title.
You play as Deacon St John, a former member of a motorcycle gang struggling to survive two years after a global virus has turned most of humanity into zombie-like monsters named “freakers”. Along with fellow biker buddy Boozer, you must hunt for supplies, deal with hostile survivors, turn in monster bounties, and do all the dirty work necessary to stay alive in the game’s dystopian setting.
Days Gone has everything you’d expect from a triple-A open-world title. The graphics are truly beautiful, with different photo-realistic settings such as lush forests and abandoned towns adding immensely to the overall atmosphere.
There is also a plethora of weapons available, and a standard RPG-lite progression system where you level up and gain skill points to spend on combat and survival skills. The motorcycle upgrade system is also very satisfying, letting Deacon gradually build a better performing bike to escape from (or charge into) the monstrous Freaker hordes.
However, one annoying gameplay detail is that you will constantly need to be on the lookout for gas and spare parts to keep your bike in good condition. Like in Red Dead Redemption 2, some players may find this realistic detail to be “too real” and the whole aspect a chore.
Aside from that little hiccup, Days Gone checks all the boxes of a standard “good” action game. Even so, the whole thing feels fairly predictable and borrows heavily from other titans of the genre.
For example, the light stealth elements were definitely inspired by recent Tomb Raider games, and the huge number of bandit camps you have to clear will remind you of the outposts in Far Cry. The simplistic levelling system and skill trees you unlock are reminiscent of Zero Horizon Dawn, while the plot seems like a less emotional version of the plot arc in The Last of Us.
All this isn’t to say the game is bad. In fact, most players will have a lot of fun with Days Gone, because it does take the best elements of those blockbuster games and copies them very well. So even though this Sony PlayStation exclusive isn’t quite more than a sum of its parts, it is still a visually-stunning game and a great technical achievement.
Days Gone is rated M for Mature, and features scenes of blood and gore, intense violence and strong language
Note: This review was written with an advance copy provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment Hong Kong Ltd.