“Motorbike 10 hp, all chrome, it’s yours if you say so” sang Lucio Battisti in 1970, forty-nine years later, in the era of remixes and video games, we would sing: “Motorbike and 10 hp I run away and save myself like that”. In the first half of 2019 the most important IP out of Sony in terms of exclusivity is definitely Days Gone: title developed by Bend Studio that after a troubled path made of delays and obstacles arrives on the shelves of the world trying to say their own in a market that the apocalypse zombies now seems almost saturated.
The first myth we want to dispel is that it’s not a “The Last of Us like”, the title Bend Studio is different from what Naughty Dog did with his masterpiece in the past generation and it’s ungenerous on both sides even just to bring them together. The apocalypse told by Days Gone wants to touch certain strings of the players, trying to drag them into an emotional context that uses shots and music in a clever way, almost as if to emphasize the competence of the development studio in working independently. Days Gone will tell you the story of Deacon St. John and how from one day to the next his life has been disrupted by the infection that caused the zombie apocalypse. The relationship with Boozer (his best friend), his love story with Sarah, the mysteries behind the BLACK entity that seems not only dedicated to the study and repression of the infection but also definitely included in various Machiavellian matters; the narrative proposed by Days Gone has solid foundations that present within it many clichés of the genre of belonging but also different original solutions that can bewitch the user.
Despite all this, however, the choice to divide the plot into “Stories” or fragmented narrative arcs on different macro themes (Sarah, Boozer, the BLACK, etc..) is like a double-edged blade that emphasizes the excellent script of the title but at the same time emphasizes the marked differentiation between the two / three main narrative arcs and everything that is secondary. The characterization of the secondary narrative arcs is what on the plot side made us twist our noses. Several Gregarians, NPCs, secondary characters are really flat, shallow and often moved by motivations that are fine-grained in themselves. In a world so open but at the same time desolate because of the zombie epidemic and with an ecosystem of the game so focused on exploration in motion, characterize in depth the characters you meet is essential to give depth to the title.
From the point of view of gameplay, however, we are facing the biggest problems of the title Bend Studio. As already pointed out in the preview, although the differentiation of the weight of weapons is felt, it is how they impact on opponents and gameplay the problematic side. Not only did we often find ourselves not seeing blows that clearly hit the enemy, but even with weapons of greater rarity the situation remained the same. Just the rarity of weapons within the survival component is not the most excellent, it is in fact linked to the state of the condition of the weapon (on the other hand we are in a desolate world and now reduced to ruin) with little emphasis on the importance of finding better ones.
Different management of white weapons: they are in fact the real strength of the fighting Days Gone being the most responsive, the most satisfying to use (you have to try the finisher moves with which to create spectacular killings) and incredibly layered in use given the presence of the durability of the same. Whether you are facing the furious (infected zombies) or bandit robbers, a pack of wolves, or the cult of crowds that populate the desert world of Days Gone, the melee weapons will be one of your main solutions, always and anyway.
Even the survival and crafting component resides at the center of the ecosystem of Days Gone, although even in this case it is not perfectly in focus. By playing following the flow that Days Gone will show you from the very first minutes, the game will allow you to never find yourself in a shortage of ammunition and especially to take full advantage of what crafting has to offer. Materials to collect you will have in abundance and ammunition scattered between shacks in disuse and bonnets of police cars also. If you do not play as Rambo during a zombie apocalypse, the game will not punish you and this in our opinion is not entirely a positive aspect. If you want to create a coherent survival world, with tough zombies that can withstand more than one shot and even certain types of burns, the management of materials and ammunition must necessarily be greatly amplified, forcing the player to use firearms only and exclusively in emergency circumstances. Days Gone unfortunately will never make you feel overwhelmed and burdened by the lack of objects and this a little ‘sorry.
Also the progression of the character linked to the skill points accumulated by performing actions of different types helps to increase this sense of little oppression, since over time Deacon will be able to overcome many difficulties too effectively. Unfortunately in a game of such a workmanship a similar component-RPG as the progression of the character, or the management of stamina through a bar do not marry in a very consistent manner. In this sense Days Gone seems to be a jumble of great ideas that little amalgamate synergistically and harmoniously as if missing the binder between the various parts. A no less important key component of the title is the Horde. The intense images already proposed by Bend Studio on the encounters with the “river” of zombies are true, the Horde offers that feeling of undisputed power that has been shown and when you meet the (her) you will understand that often running away is not an option for cowards. Finally, the bike, Deacon’s faithful companion as mentioned several times, will be a true appendix of the player and will be replenished and maintained just like a character playing. Your actions in terms of secondary missions will also allow you to enhance by the mechanics scattered around the map, your inseparable bike. A real companion of adventures that will also give you unforgettable trips through the wastelands of the title Bend Studio.
From an artistic and technical point of view, the title offers an excellent characterization, despite some problems of pop up textures. The characters and the environment are very inspired, especially at an aesthetic level. The day/night cycle and changing weather conditions will also have repercussions on the zombies and on the bike thus going to increase the variables to be taken into account during your gaming sessions. Also in terms of sound Days Gone offers a great experience with environmental noises, background music and emotional soundtracks that will accompany you during your raids in motion and not.