I remember the first time Sony announced Days Gone many years ago. At first, a lot of people, myself included, thought they were looking at what could possibly (at the time) the first moments of a potential The Last of Us sequel. The setting, the desolation, the mood, the zombies (yes, they’re zombies, let’s just roll with it); everything looked just like The Last of Us until the Days Gone title showed up and a lot of people uttered a collective “huh?”. After the release of excellent exclusive games such as God Of War and Spider-Man, and with the upcoming release of games like The Last of Us 2, Ghost of Tsushima, and Dreams, Days Gone got relegated to being considered “that one game people only remember during conferences”.
I was impressed by the fact Sony brought lots of playable Days Gone stations to BGS 2018. I had the opportunity to play a demo called “Death Wish” and I have admit, I am now a little bit more excited and confident about the game. Then again, I had absolutely no interest in it prior to the demo, so take it as you will.
The demo was actually good, I’ll say that. Days Gone is a beautiful game with excellent graphics and voice acting. It is weird to look at and listen to Sam Witwer once again in a game, although not wielding a lightsaber this time around, but he does deliver a good performance. In terms of production values, I have little to complain about. Then again, I have never had any issues with those aspects in pretty much any Sony game out there. I was there for the gameplay and it was just… fine…
Here’s the thing about Days Gone: it is an open-world action-adventure with heavy survival elements. I had the objective of infiltrating an abandoned bike shop in order to get some crucial pieces. The place was locked and its surroundings were packed with zombies. I had to find out a way inside the garage, pick up the items, avoiding or kill any zombie in my way, and then get the heck out of there. It was enough for a roughly 15 minute-long demo.
The best way I can describe the gameplay is that it resembles a mix between the setting, combat, and survival aspects of The Last of Us with the open world, freedom of decision taking, “hunter vision” (which every single open world game has nowadays), and crafting from Horizon Zero Dawn. The enemies would hunt me down fiercely and I’d have very little ammo and melee items to use against them. There were a few medicinal items scattered around to help me out. There were tons of gallons of gasoline, pieces of cloth, and bottles all over which I’m assuming is for crafting molotov cocktails, even though the demo didn’t allow me to do so.
There were two types of zombies: normal adult ones and lots of children. Yep, you read that right, children. The little infected ones act as opportunistic predators, only attacking you in bunches whenever you’re low on health. According to the game, they can smell your blood akin to a shark. I can already foresee news outlets and social media users going rampant with the fact you can blast kids with your shotgun, but then again, this is a zombie apocalypse for crying out loud. It’s kill or be killed and that applies to all types of zombified people.
While the controls were fine, the aiming was decent, and the melee mechanics were simple but intuitive, nothing in terms of gameplay was “impressive” or “innovative”. The thing I feared the most about Days Gone was finding out the game would end up being too derivative of other recently released titles and that’s basically what happened. It didn’t feel like I was playing a brand new groundbreaking Sony exclusive. It felt like I was playing an unoriginal AAA title with high production values. It wasn’t bad per se, but you expect more from Sony. Had this been published by a smaller company, its lack of originality would have been less noticeable.
To be fair, the demo was short and the game barely showcased any story bits or the size of the open world. Maybe fighting against other desperate gangs in their camps will be more enjoyable. Maybe the story will be top-notch. Maybe riding down the apocalypse-ridden highway on a chopper will be fun. I’ll just wait and see, but for now, I’m not going to bet my chips on Days Gone.
Given my really low expectations prior to playing it, I have to say I ended up being satisfied with Days Gone‘s demo, but far from being impressed. It’s a good looking game with some really impressive production values, but it’s also really unimpressive on a gameplay standpoint. You have seen and played very similar games in the past. Who knows, maybe the demo just didn’t showcase what the game will really be about, but I’m not going to keep my expectations very high for the time being.
As Tracer once said, “ever get that feeling of deja vu?”