730 days gone by
Another day has passed, although perhaps it would be better to say that too many have passed. Two years of hardship, of flight, of struggles. Two years since she left and everything has changed. The pandemic has spread throughout the world, leaving it at the mercy of the infected. We call them Furiosi, a decidedly appropriate name. They wander without a real destination, commanded by a mere wild instinct. That of survival belongs to the ancient world, it has been forgotten. A bit like the repugnant ones but those psychopaths don't even have the excuse of being infected, they're just crazy. As if that weren't enough, these damned Randagi are brought too. I will also be considered as one of them but I don't feel like being part of it, most of it only combines trouble with trouble. I am interested in surviving, I have a goal, I have to go north. The camps organized by those who believe they still have a glimmer of lucidity in a lost world allow me to rest and organize myself, it is up to them to make friends. Better to put me back in the saddle now, the road ahead is still long and this day too is passing.
It is with these premises that it begins Days Gone, the last title of the American software house SIE Bend Studio. The company is known globally for the famous third person shooter saga Syphon Filter, realized when the studio still carried the name eidetic, which was abandoned following the acquisition by Sony. Since then, after a long series of titles that spanned three different generations of consoles, with a detour to the unfortunate handheld consoles PlayStation, Bend Studio reaches the last generation. He does it with so much, perhaps too late, and with what from the premises seems an ambitious title, if compared to what was achieved up to that moment by the study, but with his feet firmly planted on the ground. After the announcement in the 2016 the traces were lost for a long time, so much that the worst was expected but, with a well-placed marketing strategy, in the last few months a series of video that showed various elements of the game and who have been able to rekindle the flame of curiosity in many gamers. Fasten the bandana, turn on the bike and get ready to escape, because life is really hard in the region of Farewell, Oregon.
We must immediately underline a very important element of the game, which I had initially taken on a leg but which I came upon with brutality: you are in an open world survival. Forget about GTA and the like immediately, since in these lands nobody gives you anything and you have to fight with your nails and teeth to survive every moment. Every ammunition, every harvested object could make the difference between life and death. Or give the possibility also to escape, given that this option presents itself quite often. The main campaign runs through a series of missions given either by radio or as a result of our actions, and from this point of view, Bend Studio has not aimed at modifying a well-established system, but has opted for a simple and functional choice. In short, it is a progression system quite similar to what we saw in the last chapters of Grand Theft Auto or Horizon Zero Dawn, just to name two. Progressing with the history of Days Gone, Deacon makes the acquaintance of various characters that populate the dangerous areas of the game, developing with each of them a sub-plot that intertwines perfectly with the narrative fabric created. The dark tones surround a story of desperation and hope, deepened above all by the many video present, too well set in the gaming sector. Of course, they never made me cry out miracles or aim for perfection, but it is not on them that the proposed offer rests and I must say that I generally appreciated them, also thanks to the emotional charge that they often managed to convey. The narrative manages to hold the attention high by exploiting a good dose of twists, not astonishing and perhaps predictable but that tell a story of pain that lets you enter the shoes of Deacon and drags you well throughout the game. Sometimes it seems that they have taken a little too much inspiration, both narratively and playfully, from other Sony first party titles such as The Last of Us or Uncharted 4 but the protagonist of Days Gone manages to carve out a niche of his own and a very specific identity .
A difficult relationship
Oh m ****, is it possible that this damn bike should always break? Gasoline, pistons, I have to keep an eye on too many things and, inevitably, something escapes me. Fortunately the fuel is quite common and the pumps continue to work as it is easy to find spare parts, which have become a rather common commodity, in fact, I don't even have to pay them usually, you just need to know how to look good! The Furiosos hardly know how to conceive the act of feeding, if I take the pieces that I need from the now abandoned cars I don't think they will complain. I just have to be careful not to make too much noise, it's not fun to be digging through the engine of a wreck at night and hearing the sound of the alarm going off. Also because the immediately following sound is usually that of a Horde that arrives to feed itself and, if one is lucky enough, the noise afterwards will be that produced by the escape. If you are unlucky you will not hear anything.
After the first few days of play at Days Gone, which serves as an introduction to a series of basic gameplay elements, you find yourself being able to wander around with your rather run down bike. The game map opens up in front of you, with the necessary limitations of the case that can also be found in other similar titles that can be overcome through progress in the history missions. Start enjoying the bike immediately, as it is your only and most trusted companion, true co-protagonist of the game. Only thanks to her are you able to escape the Hordes and, from this point of view, the developers wanted to push the pedal of realism to rather high levels. The one on which you are riding is certainly not a last model motorcycle and needs the right care and attention. Deacon, during the period before the destruction of civilization, was part of a gang of motorcyclists - and not only - and knows how to take care of his little girl. So be careful not to crash too often or land badly. In addition to seeing themotorcycle status indicator, you could even be thrown from the saddle and die in one shot. Fortunately, repairing it is not a difficult task: the roads traveled are scattered with mechanical wrecks to be searched, including cars, trucks, ambulances and police cars including slalom and which often interrupt our raids.
No doubt it is very convenient to take a look at the vehicles, given that inside the bonnet, whose opening requires a few seconds in which you are defenseless to the attacks, it is possible to find wreckage with which to be able to make our bike return in splendid shape. His loss of integrity is indicated by a progressive malfunction which leads first to a decrease in the maximum speed and finally to a total stop, which forces it to be pushed forward. This occurrence clearly occurs even when let's finish the gasoline and we are obliged to arrive at the nearest filling station, fortunately all functioning, or find a precious red tank with which to fill the tank. At the beginning of the game they are rather complicated to find but once you understand their positioning, fixed and close to well distinguishable elements, there are no problems. If, on the other hand, you happen to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, perhaps the best solution is suicide, a choice that does not actually give you any penalties, other than the loss of the objects collected after the last save, which occurs manually when you are close to the bike or automatically at the start and end of missions, or finally when certain actions are performed. If you find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere then, avoid saving! These maintenance systems are also accompanied by a modest one series of upgrades to be applied to the bike, which can be purchased by some mechanics - not all of them - that allow you to increase speed, resistance or reduce the noise produced. It is also possible to have fun changing the livery and the general aesthetics. Honestly I was expecting something more from this section, given the importance they wanted to give to the bike also in the marketing of Days Gone prior to publication: I didn't find it as extensive as I imagined. Upgrades are few and essential, as are the possibilities for customization. A separate discussion should be made for the guidance system, which provides a rather negative and a strange first impact soap effect. After a few hours of playing and getting used to it, I must say that I generally appreciated it, finding it pleasant to run along the dirt paths. However, it is far from perfect: the impacts with the enemies are poorly realized and if we go to slam, to backtrack and start again there is an inexplicable annoying delay. There are also differences in driving depending on whether you are walking along a dry path, one wet from rain or one covered in snow but they are not so marked.
Better to arm yourself well before leaving
However, it makes you laugh that one of the few things that has been saved from the ancient world is weapons. For heaven's sake, it is quite normal given their presence in every home, but trying to recreate a society with the help of objects that usually make it die is absurd. Fortunately I learned to move and I am often not even forced to use them. It is enough to hide well, look for the bushes, get behind the furious of turn and zac, with a stab wound it all ends. This also avoids making noise, you have no idea what it means to find yourself with a horde. Oh, no you don't know ... and it's better this way. Do not even imagine what fear is if you haven't seen one. Thank god, Sarah taught me something useful, and I know at least the basics of first aid, otherwise my life out here would have been much shorter.
Deacon is not always forced to flee, although this choice shows you all its charm on more than one occasion. Days Gone is a mixture of one shooter in third person, a survival - where, essentially, the hunger indicator is replaced by the petrol indicator of the motorcycle - and one stealth. Every shot fired must be well thought out and above all must be subsequent to a careful study of the environment. Shooting is never recommended, of course, if there are more zombies nearby as they are sensitive to the noises produced, whether they are weapons, sirens or car alarms (a classic). As for my experience, I found a stealth approach much more satisfying and useful in most situations, with the use of stones to distract or attract enemies to the chosen point, thus being able to eliminate them quickly and unobtrusively. If you fail, you move on to strong ways. The aiming system reminded me a little of that of Uncharted 4 only heavier and not perfectly calibrated but which does its job well. The shots of the weapons are "heard" and the headshot, after a few hours of practice, is guaranteed. If the enemies get too close you can resort to the melee weapons, that found scattered around with their own indicator of damage and resistance, or you can create them ad hoc through projects, obtained after completing some series of missions. Your search for materials must be incessant also because, thanks to them, you can repair these weapons at any time by scrap or create bombs of various types, among which the trusted ones stand out Molotov cocktails. But don't expect fire volumes at the Gears of War! Indeed, in Days Gone it is always better to always aim at the head, especially against the Order.
These are referred to as a sort of different enemy compared to the normal furious, even though they are composed by them. As soon as a certain number of rather large zombies gather at one point on the map, a Horde is born. In these cases they tend to be smaller than those already established in that area and indicated in the game menu, the elimination of which is preparatory for reaching the 100%. This system is also speeded up by the Siren, a Furiosa who can cry out and thus summon countless enemies. Yes, like Left for Dead, and he is not the only enemy taken in weight by that title, even if I do not consider it a defect: they are elements that have now entered the collective and videogame imagination, and are exploited very often. The approach to the Horde is indicated by a change in the music and by the rather insistent noises heard in the distance. Obviously it is impossible to disperse them without being seen, and you have to be very well prepared to face it, especially the first few times. Here, too, a study of the area is necessary, where you could find explosive materials scattered in preparation for your desire for extermination. Very interesting element which makes their elimination feasible is the stay. If the first time you see the Horde you eliminate a hundred furious, on the way back you find it reduced, as the zombies fortunately do not regenerate. A comfortable situation, which shows the side to some lamerata but overall I think it was the only sensible choice. Destroying an entire one in one pass is impossible for almost the entire duration of the game. On the other hand, I also happened to come back after a few days to the point where I first saw the Furiosi group without finding it because it had moved to the map. Do not expect to find them obviously on the opposite side of the world: they always remain in the area.
Amici e nemici
Fortunately, I can still count on the help of the survivors. Well, at least some. The repugnant ones organized themselves into a kind of sick cult and being caught by them means only one thing: torture of all kinds. If you are strong enough to stay alive, your mind is now lost, and they finish their work with a nice brainwashing and are ready to serve their "cause", if it ever exists. On the other side there are the camps. It does not attract me very much to be part of it and having to submit to the orders of the chief of duty, that's why I'm a Stray. The rules are tight and my house is the nightmare. An appropriate name for what was once a normal scattered and anonymous mountain area. At the same time, I still need it, which is what I can find doctors, ammunition or even a simple safe place to rest. Maybe I'll have to change my mind but at the moment it's all right, Boozer and I have been around for two years and nothing has ever happened to us.
Deacon knows how to take care of himself but to his aid comes the mechanics of camps. They are safe areas. inside which can not enter Repugnant, Furious or wild animals, and serve as a general hub. You can then find it meccanici from which to enhance and fix the bike, merchants from which to buy weapons and ammunition or bounty hunters. They are given collectibles collected from the bodies of enemies with which it is possible to accumulate credits and trust. The camps are totally divided between them and each have their own peculiarities: if in Copeland's it is possible to improve the bike, in Tucker's one you can find good weapons and so on. This division is also reflected on credits, the currency of the game. They are not always available, but can be spent only in the field in which we have earned them. This leads to a lot of diversification of the game action and to carrying out missions for the various camps present. We can therefore go hunting for repugnant ones and clean up the occupied areas or go to to destroy the nests in which the Furiosi sleep, as they hibernated. Also in this case we can choose whether to go at night, when they go out hunting, finding more zombies on the outside but having to deal with them less once the nest is burned, or during the day, where the opposite situation occurs. We may even have to run in motion, in pursuit of former members of the camps who have stolen something and are fleeing. In this case the manual aiming system is replaced by an automatic one in which the reticule narrows the closer we are to the opponent, a good system that allows us to concentrate almost exclusively on driving the vehicle.
Alongside these are also present infiltration missions inside the NERO fields and random events on the map. In the first case you need to find one of the company's research fields, restore the current and enter being very careful not to attract too much attention. Many times I happened to find a lot of in the neighboring areas larva that, it is useless to go around it, I am infected children. The first impact with them displaced me, as I don't remember a game other than Days Gone in which actions could be performed on them, on children. Going to memory, in Fallout they are blocked and you can't do anything to them, while in GTA they don't exist. The choice to insert them is certainly an impact, especially when you find yourself with dozens of them running after you. Returning to the main discourse, the NERO missions are among the most important both from the narrative point of view and from the actual gameplay. In the laboratories there are upgrades for Deacon that increase, optionally, Life, Strength or Concentration making us stronger. This system is also accompanied by one character level progression through experience points, in GDR style. At each feed you get a skill point expendable within three different branches, which they bring improvements to firearms, close combat weapons and survival. The other missions related to the BLACK, all the same in the mechanics and to approach obligatorily in stealth, compose the whole background linked to the virus spread in the area and of which I will not speak further just to avoid telling you too many things.
Finally, from a technical point of view, Days Gone is on excellent levels. The view of the environment is excellent, and at mid-game it undergoes a decisive turn from the verdant panoramas to which we have become accustomed so far in favor of other areas. The change is preceded by a screen warning and brings Deacon to explore snowy peaks or "dead zones" within which the Furiosi have different patterns and energy than those seen in the first half, and of which I do not refer details, considering how much they are tied to the weft double-edged. It was a turning point that I appreciated a lot, as it allows both to investigate even more deeply the beautiful story of the game, in which the developers have poured a good part of their energies, and because it is going to greatly increase the longevity element, which settles quietly on 35 / 40 hours of play, expenses taking just the main story. To these are added then all those dedicated to the various secondary missions, and they are by no means few. A small sore point could be represented by Furiosi models, all fairly standardized - on this Dead Rising remains unchallenged - but the variety of enemies not missing, and new opponents are introduced from which to watch their backs throughout the narrative. Uploads are generally fast except in rare cases, usually before particularly long videos or missions. The frame rate is rather shaky and there are episodes of stuttering or sudden frame drops su Playstation 4 Pro, console on which I played it. In certain areas of the map, more advanced in the history of the game, it is not even hoped to reach the 25 frames and the situation often becomes tragic. I also found the presence of trails on various moving objects and no, it was not the TV ghosting, assured. I tried the game on a LG 55B6V Oled panel and it didn't bother like this on any other title. It is possible however that these problems can be solved with subsequent patches, it would not be the first time.
To be a new IP, Days Gone presents itself as an excellent title for Bend Studio, which from small productions on laptop has finally returned with great fanfare on Sony's main console with a brave, not revolutionary game, but which quietly cuts its own slice in today's panorama and from which, hopefully, the software house will be able to find the right momentum for new productions on the future home console.