Days Gone is basically World War Z by way of Sons Of Anarchy
One of the biggest games of 2019 is finally here, but was it worth the wait?
We'll say one thing about Days Gone, it doesn't exactly hold your hand.
You're dunked head-first into the deep-end of the plot right from the get-go, playing former-outlaw, current-bounty-hunter Deacon in the years after a zombie(ish) apocalypse has ravaged the world. The opening few seconds shows us his wife getting away from the worst of it in a helicopter, and then we jump forward several hundred days, and we're driving through the woods on our bike.
And oh, this bike. It is both the best and worst thing about the game.
Driving around the landscape is one of the most fun things you can do, escaping the hordes of the not-quite-zombies (we're told that they're actually still alive, but infected with some kind of crazy rabies), careening around dangerous corners at high speeds, only for your bike to crap out on you. You forgot to refuel it, didn't you? Or maybe you ran over one-too-many zombies, and the engine is damaged, and you have to stealth around the place to find replacement parts?
Yeah, this isn't your GTA-style of transportation. Your bike is your best hope of survival, but also the most likely reason you'll be dying, so you better get used to that mindset ASAP.
Elsewhere, the VERY LONG campaign - we're talking the guts of 60 hours - does take a while to get going. Initially, it isn't even clear what the plot is. Deacon is hired to do this and that, go here and there, talk to him and her, with a mostly background feeling that we're probably hoping to bump into our long-missing wife at some point.
About half way through, we finally get a grasp of where it is all heading, but it is also by this point that you'll find yourself either totally invested in the world, or you'll be deterred by the sense of repetition. A lot of the campaign involves going to a place, finding a thing, only finding that thing requires finding another thing first, escaping a horde, escape, repeat.
The atmosphere of the world is perfectly realised, with great sound design and realistic visuals, but that does also mean that the mundanity of a mostly-empty wooded areas of America can't exactly the jaw-dropping vistas of, say, The Last Of Us.
On the other hand, the Freakers (aka The Not-Zombies) react well to daylight, slowing them down, or night-hunting, when they move faster and more violently, but it is in those huge horde moments that the game really comes alive.
Hundreds of the killers moving as one, crawling over, under, and around buildings, cars, and each other to get to you is a pants-pooping experience when you first see it, and it never really loses that power throughout, as you build up better and more inventive ways to deal with them.
There is a lot to like here, but it is padded by a lot of unnecessary time-wasting, which is disguised under the camoflauge of "realism". How much you'll enjoy it will depend on how much free time you've got to invest in it.
Days Gone is released on the PS4 from Friday 26 April.
Clip via PlayStation