Developer SIE Bend Studio Publisher SIE Format PS4 Release 2018
Behind closed doors, the day really is gone. While SIE Bend’s press-conference showing had protagonist Deacon St John assault an enemy camp in broad daylight, here a studio rep plays through the same section at night. Where the public demo took place in blazing sunshine, here St John pads through the driven snow. And while previously he’d lured a swarm of infected (here styled ‘freakers’) to clear out the settlement, this second playthrough has St John work largely from the shadows. On stage, the mutant swarm made for another convincing showcase of Bend’s remarkable flowing crowd technology. Behind closed doors, the studio intends to highlight how dynamic weather can affect the way a given section plays out, and to show off St John’s other, more personal methods for dealing with the enemy. Unfortunately, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. In fact, that’s putting it mildly. On this evidence,
Days Gone has barely a single idea to call its own, with St John’s ability set magpied from other, better games, and a lingering suspicion that it may even have borrowed the tech to power it. Hand-to-hand combat, for example, is all but indistinguishable from the system employed in Uncharted 4, with some very Naughty Dog-like animation blending. An on-the-fly crafting mechanic (arrows, of course, and heavens above, molotov cocktails) riffs suspiciously heavily on The Last
Of Us – a game that clearly informed much of Sony’s E3 line-up, admittedly, but here the comparison is an especially unflattering one. Days Gone’s debt ledger extends beyond the Sony Worldwide Studios network, too, with a tracking mechanic that plays out indistinguishably similarly to Geralt of Rivia’s Witcher Senses. There’s even a bullet-time system in there, for heaven’s sake.
All of which seems to imply that St John is some kind of mutant superhero, but we’re told he’s nothing more than a regular guy, albeit one better equipped to deal with the mutant onslaught by virtue of his past in a biker gang. His motorcycle is, we’re assured, a vital component of a game whose protagonist works without alliance, drifting from place to place, employing his pilfered toolset as he sees fit. If the bike runs out of fuel, it will be out of action until you find more. If it’s damaged, you’ll need to fix it using scrap that you scavenge out in the world.
It is, at least, a reasonably original idea in a game that badly needs them. Rare indeed is the open-world game that insists we stick to a single vehicle – even those that put you on horseback break the rules with their teleporting steeds. This demo was intended to show off all the things Deacon St John can do when he isn’t tricking floods of mutated freakers into doing his dirty work, as if to reassure us that there’s more to Days
Gone than its remarkable crowd tech. We leave, if anything, more worried than we were before.
It barely has a single idea to call its own, with St John’s ability set magpied from other, better games