From the moment I first heard about Days Gone, I wondered about its reason for existing. With so many open-world titles and games that use post-apocalyptic setting featuring zombies and/or other types of deformed creatures, why make another one? Maybe someone at Sony was looking at Horizon Zero Dawn, first announced around the time that work on Days Gone officially began, and said right girls, you’ve had your metaphorical glass of ‘secco with this one, let’s make a post-apocalyptic game for real men. Maybe someone looked at all these other existing titles and thought why not make another – people keep buying them, they’ll buy this one, too. But there are only so many times that works. In Days Gone, you can see why.
Days Gone starts with a familiar scene. We meet Deacon St. John and his wife Sarah in Seattle, the streets filled with panicked people and overturned vehicles. You don’t yet see what everyone is running from, but of course you know – this is a zombie game, get with the programme. Accompanying the two is Deacon’s best friend Boozer. He seems to exist for one reason only – to justify why Deacon would leave his wife after she’s gravely wounded in an act of violence so senseless it literally doesn’t make sense. I’ve watched it over several times, not least because the game makes you reminisce about it more than once, and the big moment that defines nearly the story just doesn’t add up.
Sarah (seemingly?) dies. This is not a spoiler, because it’s so essential to Days Gone it’s alluded to in the marketing materials. I’m glad to say that after everything games have done in recent years to establish women, in Days Gone we’re back to them existing entirely to enable the male protagonist’s pain. This isn’t helped by Sarah coming across as a woman who seems to be as dumb as bricks for most of the flashbacks. Take her first meeting with Deacon. She is out in the mountains with a broken car and no phone reception when a stranger on a bike stops and aggressively asks her for directions, before pretending to drive off so she has to ask him for help. No woman would ever. If a woman would in fact ever, she would then proceed to fling herself off Deacon’s bike as soon as the words “so what’s a nice lady like you doing in a place like this” leave his mouth.