Review | Days Gone

Days Gone is a safe game and a beautiful freak show in an unsafe game world.

Tough and Badass looking biker Deacon is facing a crossroads: during a zombie outbreak – this time they are called “freakers” – he can go with a helicopter that is about to leave for a safe camp. However, there is only room for two people, and Deacon is just now on the road with his injured wife Sarah and his mate Boozer. He decides to put his wife on the helicopter – after all, she can use the aid best – and to accompany Boozer to increase his chances of survival.

Days Gone then gives you control over Deacon a few years after the incident. The helicopter with Sarah on board crashed shortly after departure and Deacon never fully processed the loss. Meanwhile, he and Boozer, and with them all remaining people, have built a new life in a United States flooded with freakers.

The close friends spend the night safely in a tower surrounded by fencing and in the meantime do some jobs and maintenance around the various camps with survivors erected around them. Boozer and Deacon begin to play on their free biker existence, but there is no room for departure: due to some unfortunate situations, they desperately need the help of the people in the camps.

In Days Gone you solve all kinds of tasks for prominent figures from in and around the various camps. You do all this in the state of Oregon, an open game world that has been designed with a lot of variation and detail. You really have the feeling that you’re walking or driving through a corrupt part of America, where the test of time makes the various buildings crumble and nature has taken over large areas. The story guides you through the various camps and lets you explore the different areas step by step, from forests and swampy marshes to sandy plains. It is a true ¬†pleasure to explore the game world with your motorcycle, your trusty Steel steed on and off road.

Or, well, pleasure, the tension can be clingy regularly, since the world is flooded with freakers. You can easily handle one such human-eating monster with a careful sneak attack or by hacking into it. They respond to sight and sound, so sneaking around is advisable, but they are not really smart. However, a large group of freakers can hide behind every corner. These so-called “hordes” sometimes consist of hundreds of zombies and can arise at any time, including during missions. It is impossible to eliminate these hurdles on your own and the strategy that you had to complete a mission must be heavily adjusted at that time. It often pays to just choose to get away safely, to return at a different time.

A highlight of Days Gone is the aforementioned motorcycle. The bike will quickly feel like your child. It can be broken and must then be made, or soon runs out of fuel. Then it is important to refuel on time at an abandoned gas station or in a camp, or to spot an abandoned jerry can along the way. This is really important: if your motorcycle stops running, it is damned hard to flee from large groups of freakers or aggressive gangs and wild animals, and the game world is far too large to cross on foot. Your motorcycle always stays where you left it, so make sure you find it easily when you wander off.

The survival element is also slightly extended throughout the rest of the game. Ammunition, especially at the start of the game, is scarce and the game motivates you to make melee weapons, Molotov cocktails and medkits with all sorts of things that you find along the way. Days Gone does not put as much emphasis on realism as other survival games but finds a fine balance between realism and play-friendliness in this. The scarcity of items and ammunition and the preciousness of your bike, combined with the hostile game world, ensure that you will never really feel at ease outside of a safe camp. Exactly as it should be!

Apart from some annoying random events, like after being snipped off of your bike by a sniper ten times or once again being captured by a group of bandits, the main part of the game consists of the narrative missions. These missions are dressed up with hours of cut-scenes full of excellent acting. The different camps are filled with colorful characters that often appear cool and selfish, a requirement for survival in this world. But every now and then a trickle of humanity trickles through, giving these emotional moments all the more impact.
The way in which Deacon slowly but surely learns more about the behavior of large groups of freakers knows how to fascinate. His friendship with Boozer and the mourning of his wife make the main character feel like a man of flesh and blood. The emotional highlights of a The Last of Us are not reached, but some scenes are cautiously approaching.

However, the story cannot hide the monotony of the missions themselves. After a few hours you will notice that you are doing the same things in Days Gone. Drive from A to B, destroy the freaker nests in an area, rescue an abducted camp resident, or follow a government research team in old-fashioned mandatory stealth sections. The story covers tens of hours and it would have benefited the game if the quantity had been reduced and more focus had been placed on the quality of the individual missions.

Also the perfect finish that we are used to from the big PlayStation 4 exclusives is missing here. In spite of excellent graphics and controls, bugs pop up every now and then. I had to restart some missions because the game made it impossible to move forward. The engine also got stuck a few times in the area and the frame rate dived down through specific areas for short moments. Bend Studio has since released a patch and is working on a second one, but it was not available during the lion’s share of our playing experience. It remains to be seen whether the patches do this



– Gameplay during missions is repetitive.
– Some annoying bugs, causing you to restart the game or missions.

+ Survival on your motorcycle works.
+ Voice acting and story are top quality.
+ Fascinating and beautifull open world.