Days Gone - PC Review

Days Gone
by developer Bend Studio and publisher PlayStation Mobile, Inc.PC (Steam) review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

While "Zombie Apocalypse" stories are quite literally a dime a dozen, there are a few that stand out from the crowd. Having exclusively originally released for the Sony PlayStation 4, Days Gone by Bend Studio has made it over to the PC and it granted me a wish that most only ever dream of. I got to play Days Gone for the first time again.

Released back in April 2019, I didn't really sit down to Days Gone until sometime into late November when Izzy bought it for me while we were out running errands. Having sat down to it, reviewed it for the PS4, crowned it a guilty pleasure in my 2019 Games of the Year selection, I was shocked at how new everything felt while loading it up on the PC and with an Xbox controller to boot.

The story starts off with our protagonist Deacon St. John saying goodbye to his wife Sarah as she's medevaced out on a helicopter as Deacon stays behind to help his best friend Boozer that wouldn't make it out of there alive with his own wounds to tend. Fast forwarding to two years later where Deacon never got to meet back up with his wife as the camp they were to meet up at was overrun, it doesn't take long for things to re-go to shit as Boozer is once again wounded and in a chase, Deacon loses his own motorcycle essentially keeping the two of them in the middle of nowhere Oregon for the foreseeable future.

Essentially starting off with nothing and the stage set, the "world" for the most part is at your fingertips in a non linear style of storytelling. Instead of throwing you on massive quest after massive quest, or on some small quests in between larger ones, it's basically both. Days Gone unlike a lot of others will tell the entire story over time but how you get there is really up to you. Do you need to do it all? No. Major plot points will cover what you need but often you may not even know what's major and what's minor in the overall game until the moment has passed keeping things interesting enough as you are never quite sure where something could lead.

Now, unlike a lot of PC only players sitting down to Days Gone for the first time, this is my third time experiencing the story. The first is my own original playthrough where if I wasn’t reviewing something else I was playing Days Gone making Izzy grumble that I was shooting zombies yet another night instead of co-oping something we had on the go. The second, is when Izzy herself found out the addiction of taking out these same zombie hordes as she Platinumed it (something I myself have not done). So with two separate times through the story, the first in the driver's seat and the second in that of the passenger, sitting down to it again has given me an even better appreciation of how all of the elements come together.

As I said just about a year ago now, Days Gone is not a masterpiece in any way but it still manages to provide a great adventure in an Open World which for it to draw me in says something as I tend to stay away from Open Worlds often getting bored without the lack of direction that they hold. Playing to this aspect is something that Bend Studio have managed to do well as with the non-linear story, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing missions for one camp or another, it all comes back to play into Deacon’s adventures to find a way to keep Boozer alive from his latest injury while also preparing for both of them to leave this “shit hole” that they find themselves in.

This is probably one of the biggest draws to Days Gone as it allows you to get to better know the characters of the world that you find yourself in with Deacon. Unlike a lot of other Open Worlds, this one revolves around certain groups of people instead of just pockets of random one time quests that will never string themselves into something more than a bit of extra experience in order to level up. As the various storylines move forward, the shades of grey of each person’s decisions, the lengths that they are willing to go, and the motivations behind them really help to sell that with all of the brutality, death and destruction to go around, no one out here is really a good guy. People just exist and do what they need to survive and the dialog that follows either makes you love or hate them.

To further this point, the story is told in a mix of in person cutscenes, over the radio conversations, and “offline” Deacon rants which are always something to hear especially when it’s in relation to “radio free Oregan, the truth will set you free. Often being able to keep moving around the map to get from one point to the other for the first time, picking up resources, there’s never really any downtime. If it so happens that you are ambushed by a pack of freakers or attacked because you went too close to a marauder camp, the conversations will pick back up once you’re done the fight, meaning that you’ll never lose out on something that could have been important which I really appreciated. Oftentimes, conversations will be cut off because of a fight or a cutscene and then nothing making you miss out and having to reload if you wanted to find out what was said. Here? You’ll never miss out on anything.

As for the gameplay, it’s a solid enough third person action, stealth, shooter style. Using a combination of items, Deacon can use melee weapons such as knives, bats, 2x4s, ranged weapons such as pistols, shotguns, crossbows, and then throw tables such as molotovs, pipe bombs and actual grenades if you find them. Don’t want to make noise? By crouching down and sneaking up on enemies you can silently take them out and save on things like ammo which is sometimes in short supply especially if you come across the scariest thing that Days Gone can throw at you. Hordes.

Now, there are a ton of freakers out there. These are basically zombies. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes including a god damned BEAR. ZOMBIE BEAR. Like… zombies aren’t bad enough you had to go and make a bear one? Taking things like the bears and other special types aside that show up over the course of the story, nothing is scarier than coming across a horde even if you think you’re ready for it. The story will bring you against two in particular as you have no choice in the matter, you’ve got to face them if you want to make it to the end. As for the rest though? If you want to check out all of the possible locations for upgrades and resources, you’re going to have to fight them off and one “Deacon St. John” on foot or a motorcycle is not enough for hundreds of freakers running straight for you.

Not only is the sight one to make you cry, but the shift in the music also makes it a lot more tense and even if I’ve been through a few times now? I totally forgot about how early that you can come across them as I was trying to get something out of a Nero Checkpoint and then the horde started to pour out of a train on the overpass above. These moments remind you that while humanity is scary with their guns and their explosives, there are plenty of other things out there like these hordes that are even scarier as there’s no sneaking up on them.

Now unfortunately, it's entirely possible that not everyone is going to be able to experience Days Gone in the same manner that I have. Having started off trying to run things off of my laptop with an i5-4670K 3.40GHz, 32GB DDR3 2400 MHz and a GTX 1060, I just couldn't get it to run without the worst case of choppiness that I've ever seen. Loading up my actual PC running an i9-10900F CPU @ 2.80GHz, 32GB DDR4 at 3200 MHz and a GTX 3080, wow. Adding in an ultrawide display? This is why I said above that it was like getting to replay something for the first time. While yes, I obviously know where the story was going, the world looked better. I could see more detail and I could in general just see more as I had a wider field of vision. The downside to this is that I don’t think anyone running older setups will be able to see the same thing or even run it if my laptop was any indication.

So overall, while the graphic upgrades to Days Gone on the PC (as long as the PC can handle it) are amazing especially compared to either a Sony PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 4 Pro, Days Gone is still the same title and that’s not a bad thing. Between the non-linear storyline that lets you explore at your own pace and the solid gameplay design that is just as easy to handle twenty, thirty, or forty hours down the line as it is in the beginning, there’s plenty to do, love and explore in a world that’s seen better days.

Score: 8 / 10

Side Note: Short of some of the shadows, I was almost able to get Nioh 2: The Complete Edition running just as nicely off my laptop as on my PC so I know it can still “run”.



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