June 27, 2022

Insomnia 64 – Our Hands On With Days Gone

So this past weekend I got a hands on with the PlayStation 4 exclusive zombie spectacular, Days Gone. Even when Days Gone was announced a couple of E3’s ago I was very “meh” about it. Zombie games have been overdone and in recent times have been very underwhelming. My first thought was that the hordes of zombies will just be a gimmick and only feature in highly scripted set pieces.

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The whole open world biker story seemed cool, but the protagonist felt very much like your generic hero type that headlines most triple A games this generation. My main reservation was that the developers could not keep a zombie survival game interesting; and maintain tension for a 20+ hour campaign. The concern that after a portion of the game it would rely on throwing the horde at you every hour, instead of making you care about your characters survival.

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So I was lucky enough to get to try Days Gone this weekend and it changed my mind, sort of…

The preview was split into two demo levels.

The first was a stealth mission followed by an encounter with a zombie horde. Let’s start with the stealth mission.

You start by sneaking around an unused petrol station looking for supplies where you are introduced to a few wandering zombies, or as they are called in the game “freakers”. The stealth felt really good and sneaking up on a freaker before brutally executing it was really satisfying. Your lack of ammo and health supplies became apparent almost instantly, giving you the feeling of being on the back foot from the start which was good to see.

The stealth mission gave you a good sense of the world and the savage nature of it. You also get a good insight into the violent potential other fellow survivors pose to you as you have a very brutal run in with another gang. It definitely feels like other human beings are potentially a bigger threat to your survival than freakers in Days Gone, which seems to ramp up the games tension. From what I’ve played the stealth aspects and story look to be great, I just hope they don’t lose the atmosphere and feeling of just scraping by towards the later stages of the game.

So the mechanic I was more curious about was the horde and whether it was just a gimmick or if it was a genuinely pant wetting barrage of freakers. This part of the demo let you use a few of the games guns including a shotgun and an LMG along with your pistol. You also had your trusty motorbike that you could use to get around the play area quickly. The level was a industrial zone littered with barrels and tankers you could blow up with a sizable horde in the middle. Essentially you shot at the horde and ran until ultimately the freakers got you and killed you. It was interesting to see the different tactics you could use to break up the horde and try to survive.

The area was closed off in the demo so you could not stray or get an idea of the density of the games open environment but it was fun. Trying to use vehicles and pieces of the environment to slow the horde down became almost like running a gauntlet and gives you a good sandbox experience. The horde of pissed off freakers was overwhelming and no matter how far away from them you got you were only one slight hiccup from being swarmed by them. The horde is an unstoppable force that you can’t just blast through, all you can do is run and try to survive. It takes you back to the first time you got swarmed in Left 4 Dead but the only end to this horde seems to be the protagonist getting ripped limb from limb. It’s awesome!

My only concern about the game is the shooting. The hit detection seemed a bit all over the place and even when shooting other survivors the bullets lacked any sort of punch barely staggering them with a shot to the chest. I am aware that the demo at Insomnia probably was a few months old so I am hoping these issues are polished out in the full release. It would be a shame for the game to stumble on such a basic thing. Riding the motorbike is also going to take a lot of getting used too. It’s not bad but it is very different to the GTA style I was expecting, opting for a more weighty and realistic feel.

So after getting my hands on Days Gone did it change my mind or is it still “meh” in my opinion?

I am actually very excited to see how this game is received and reviewed on release, hopefully the shooting is ironed out and the story and atmosphere so perfectly highlighted in the demo holds up. Days Gone deservedly has the potential to be up there with The Last Of Us and the State Of Decay series as a staple of the zombie genre. Let’s hope it achieves it’s potential and rounds off Sony’s brilliant line up of PlayStation exclusives this generation.

Enjoyed what you’ve read? Let us know in the comments and as always for all things gaming stay tuned to ABG. If you liked this then why not check out our review for Beholder: Complete Edition – Nintendo Switch Review.


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