Saturday, May 04, 2019

"Days Gone" Review

"Sons of Anarchy" meets "The Last of Us" by way of "Far Cry" and "Resident Evil" in "Days Gone," Sony's lone major first-party, single-player release for the first half of the year. As a motorcycle gang member on the hunt for his missing wife, you search out the unforgiving, zombie-plagued wilderness for shreds of hope.

Following a three-month delay, the game rides in high style. Developer Sony Bend seems to have spent the extra time well. This is a beautiful-looking, well-polished effort with tight writing, top-level voice acting and satisfying riding, crafting and combat mechanics.

The virus-infected Freaker population makes for fun-to-dispatch fodder in single combat, but encounter three or more of them in an ambush and you've got nightmare fuel.

Working terrifyingly well in concert together, it takes superb recognition of your surroundings, as well as extreme command of rolling, melee and shoot-from-the-hip combat abilities, to work your way free. In a refreshing break for games of this ilk, your best option much of the time is not to decimate every enemy, but clear enough breathing room so you can scamper away, conserve resources and live to scrap another day.

The open-world game of cat and mouse is fascinating, providing loads of iterative thrills that will keep you glued to your controller late into the night. It's up to you to orchestrate your items and tactical approach to stay alive, and the multiple possible approaches provide a refreshing feeling of freedom and self-determination.

On the downside, an even greater and more dread-inducing than the Freakers begins to emerge in the form of repetition. Perhaps too much enamored with its resource-combat-reward loop, Sony Bend fails to add much variety to the proceedings.

The game thrives the most when you're on the open road, with gripping riding mechanics that make your bike feel like a character all its own. Free riding and experimentation are encouraged to a degree, but push things too far and you may find yourself dead in a wreck and forced to retrack several minutes of progress.

A challenging and often exhilarating, thoush sometimes naggingly frustrating mixed bag with far more going for it than dragging it down, "Days Gone" gives PS4 gamers plenty to chew on as the interminable wait for "The Last of Us Part II' rolls on. If you're stuck in the forest and low on bullets, the Freakers make for some decent company.

Publisher provided review code.

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