Talking to people about Days Gone has been a bit like trying to untangle a set of headphones just fished out of your pocket. Only the set of headphones were thrown into a beehive and you shoved your hands in after them. So, as you sit there, angry bees stinging your hands, you start to wonder if it is worth all the effort to listen to your favorite playlist.

Days Gone is, of course, the playlist in the situation and so far it seems like I am one of the few people to have genuinely enjoyed it despite the flaws it presents. Elongated metaphors aside, let’s break down the triumphs and missteps of Bend Studios long awaited zombie adventure.

Warning: This review may have some spoilers. Please continue at your own risk

Controlled Chaos

The story to Days Gone can be a little hard to follow at times. The flashback sequences skip over certain parts and then circle back later. Take the first area, for example; Deacon, Boozer, and Sarah are trying to escape the initial outbreak. There is a scene where Deacon says “We need to get to the helicopter on top of the building” then it just transitions and they are up there. Later on, Deacon visits an abandoned camp to pay respects to a fallen loved one (avoiding spoilers by name dropping) and has a flashback that sort of fills in the missing information.

Once Days Gone progresses past that opening part, the story around the various camps is sort of the overall experience so to speak. Yes, there is the overall story of what actually happened to Sarah and that is perhaps the most interesting part of the game, but that’s only one part of the whole adventure.

In those missions Deacon becomes a far more interesting character as he is seen struggling to cope only to find out that what he believes is true, that Sarah is dead, might not be so.

A majority of the game outside of the Sarah arch follows Deacon and Boozer just trying to leave the county and head north. That gets sidetracked and is why Deacon is forced to deal with all these other camps and fight the Rippers (religious psychos).

There are some absolutely wonderfully done main quests and side quests in Days Gone. There is one regarding a young woman who has been surviving on her own in this world waiting on her parents to come home. Deacon finds this young lady (Lisa) and tries to help her out. He brings her to Tucker’s camp and things start going south as she tries to adjust to life there. Tucker seems to be running a slave camp because Lisa escapes, through events pertaining to that she is kidnapped and tortured.

It is one of the saddest moments in the game to find her all carved up and wounded. Deacon gets her to safety and Lisa refuses to go back to Tucker’s camp, basically saying how horrible it is.

It’s a wonderful story arch hidden in the side-quests of the game. Lisa quickly became one of my favorite characters in the game and I wanted to keep her alive at all costs.

Atmospherically Encompassing

Days Gone is set in Oregon where it rains constantly and has a ton of forest locations. The game created the rare instance where I wasn’t bored wandering around a forest waiting for the next thing to pop out at me.

The desolate forest areas and deserts play a huge part in Days Gone having any sense or horror. A lot of the freakers (what they call Zombies in the game) don’t like light which is why they are seen hibernating. When it rains there feels like there are more of them around and missions become more challenging. There are already a ton of enemies around, even the wildlife wants to eat Deacon, so the frequent times it rains it manages to make players feel even more on edge.

Tunnels are something else that will make the player feel uneasy. They are dark and have side passages that may contain goodies that will aid the player. If you are as unlucky as me though you stumble on a nest of infected and have to try sprinting away or risk becoming a man-which. There was also one time a bear chased me into a tunnel and that was a new level of fears colliding in one location for me.

The location is actually just beautiful to look at. Later into Days Gone there was a snow area and looking at the snow on the mountains while I sat on my bike was oddly calming. Then I quickly remembered I am in a forest and everything wants me dead so I started the engine back up and rode to the nearest safe area.

Tell Me, Where The Freaks At?

There are a few different kinds of infected roaming the map in Days Gone. Most notably of which are the Newts which is one of (if not the first) instances of children being included as infected individuals. It offers a brief morale choice to the player as to if they are comfortable caving in the heads of kids. However, then these little messed-up monsters attack and you gradually stop thinking of them as anything other than creepy little gremlins. They tend to just stare at you from the tops of buildings and leave the player alone as long as they don’t get too close.

It’s a huge step in Zombie story-telling as kids have been traditionally over-looked in a lot of zombie games. The newts worked out well in the story and I hope to see this worked into future games.

The regular infected skulk around and will attack the player on sight. This encourages players to try to stealth around and either go unseen or take enemies out one by one. They can be really challenging to dispatch in huge groups and gunshots will attract more and more of them depending on where you are on the map.

The story explores the virus mutating as well and a few stronger infected appear later in the game. There is one that is a massive berserker that is terrifying to fight and it felt super rewarding as I walked back to my bike with what little was left of my ammo. There is also a screamer who will pull more enemies in to attack the player with her harsh shrill screams.

I Think I Have Authority Issues

Characters are something that Days Gone does a little clumsily. On one hand, there are tortured and innocent characters like Lisa. She’s is a young teen whose mental state has been greatly affected by the apocalypse around her and is quite honestly one of the saddest characters I’ve ever been attached too. So much so that I was willing to kill everyone in a camp of survivors if I found out she had been mistreated.

Speaking of that camp, it is run by Tucker, an older woman who was intended to be this badass older biker type leading a work camp as a community. In reality, she is nothing short of a prison warden who is one mishap short of a total riot. Tucker sort of let’s the ‘guards’ do as they please and the player can’t intervene in any way.

There was an instance of a guard of the camp bullying one of the members there. The person hadn’t done anything wrong and the guy just walked up and shoved them to the ground shouting angry things at them. I stood there, like some sort of angsty mute, unable to do anything to help/ This made me want to skip the entire camp altogether.

The other camp ran by conspiracy theorist and totally stable individual Copeland seems to be obsessed with getting exclusivity to both Boozer and Deacon like they were some sort of up and coming professional wrestling tag team.

His men steal Deacon’s bike early on and part it out. Deacon, of course, gets pissed and ends up taking a bike at the camp and continues to work with the camp on missions. The part where I disconnect here is why the hell am I expected to buy parts to the bike that isn’t mine especially when they radio Deacon and say “Hey remember that bike part your dead loved one made you, I found it and I am willing to sell it back to you.”

I would expect someone like Deacon who is incredibly defensive of his morals to go full dark knight or to at least have the bullocks to demand the part be installed since it was stolen from him in the first place.

Copeland himself rings back as a typical hide in the woods style conspirator who teaches Deacon the occasional survival related tip. To his credit he does apologize for the whole ‘We stole from you now you have to work for us’ bit. That still didn’t stop me from wanting to set the whole camp on fire and be rid of them.

In fact, the only camp I didn’t want to burn down was run by an old man named Mike who vowed to kill Deacon and Boozer if they got near the camp again. Without too many spoilers, Deacon and Mike end up setting all that aside and working together when Boozer needs help. Deacon shows Mike an idea on how to stop more Freaks from coming into the area. Too bad he didn’t also have plans to conveniently get rid of Skizzo, the wanna-be gangster who is cruising for decapitation like it’s a six four.

Repetition is the Enemy of Progress

It was mentioned before that there was a mishap at a camp involving a guard attacking someone defenseless. Well, that seemed to be one of many pre-programmed events that happen in the game. They were spaced out almost enough to go unnoticed.

I saw that exact same exchange again later in the same camp. Then I saw the again driving along where I could intervene. A man had a couple at gunpoint, he kills the woman and then the player hears it and can intervene in time to keep the man alive. The weird thing is you’re supposed to send the survivor to one of the camps in the area. However, the second time I came across this scenario nothing happened. I saved the guy and he just ran off into a nearby lake, literally. No words; just glared at me and then he was gone.

I also started to notice the game’s ‘random ambush’ events (that can be avoided if the player is paying enough attention to see the trip wire or sniper) weren’t as random as they seemed. There were several spots on the map that seemed to cycle through the events.

I would drive past and the psychotic Rippers would be there. The next it would be normal people with a sniper ambush to which Deacon would exclaim “Sniper ambush!” just a few seconds before the sniper noticed me. Which gave more than enough time to pull over, park my bike and pull out the crossbow to ruin that snipers day.

Even the hordes had some consistencies to them. I saw them in one desert spot a few times but this was actually sort of explained in the plot as the infected migrating so that is one instance is easier to forgive.

Are You New Here?

While there are a few not-so-easy-to-overlook issues with the game, a lot of what people complained about were pretty minute given the current shortcomings of a lot of games.

I mean I would potentially be ambushed by a group of raiders for the seventh time than have to stop the story to brush my horse’s bum or clean my weapons ala a certain amazing cowboy-themed game everyone gushed over a few months ago.

However, Days Gone seems to cut out a lot of that micromanaging. I loathed having to take care of the camp in Red Dead Redemption 2. So much so that it made me stop playing the game because I was bored. In Days Gone, camp interactions feel a tad more meaningful and hell of a lot shorter so I can get back to what really matters in the game, trying to figure out what the devil is going on with zombies, Deacon’s wife, and getting Boozer back on his feet.

In short, progressing the story is the whole point of a game and with Days Gone even the side quests more or less felt like they advanced the story in some way making the whole experience feel better off. I didn’t mind having to go off and break up another group of infestations because I knew it would feed into something more. Maybe I would find missing parts I needed or unlock something for a quest like when you go grab something from a toy store to surprise Lisa with. It just felt a lot more meaningful than it got credit.

The End of The Road

For every one thing Days Gone does wrong it does at least five things right. For every instance of a repetitive world interaction Days Gone makes up for it in a different way, such as making excellent use of swiping in the different directions to open a menu, the skill tree, and the use of Zombie’s ears as a currency. Each camp and their tasks makes it seem like a well done and unique take on the apocalypse.

It certainly sparked my bloodlust and had me stuffing my pockets with the dripping wet ears of the fallen. Everything said and done Days Gone is well worth your time if you are willing to put up with the occasional repetitive task in exchange for a solid story and a decent sized world to explore.

Days Gone Review
The Good
  • Decent Combat
  • Wonderful Atmosphere
  • Interesting Money Concept
The Bad
  • Audio Issues
  • Occasional Glitches
  • Skizzo
7Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
2.4

About The Author

Allen S
Editorial/Reviews Team, Manager

I started gaming when I was seven years old. I started my own game studio when I was twelve, went to school for game design. Now I work here and also on my own YouTube channel