In today’s media landscape, zombie apocalypses are hardly uncharted territory, ranging from World War Z to Resident Evil and everything in between. That creates a tough challenge right out of the gate then for Days Gone, the latest PS4 exclusive vying for your attention, but it’s to developer Sony Bend’s credit that it largely succeeds.

Pitched as a hybrid cocktail of Sons of Anarchy and The Walking Dead, with a bit of The Last of Us sprinkled in as garnish, Days Gone tells the tale of Deacon St. John – a drifter, a bike-lover and a bounty hunter. Throughout the lengthy campaign, Deacon wanders a world devastated by a global pandemic, riding between camps, completing odd jobs and chasing his own personal quest. The major thorn in his side: the game’s spin on zombies, known as freakers.

Learn more about Days Gone’s story

Play

It’s pretty obvious that Sony Bend wanted to reach the height of top-tier developers like Naughty Dog or Santa Monica Studio, and while it certainly tries to pack a punch with its narrative – particularly in a pretty heavy opener – it doesn’t totally hit the mark. That’s not to say Sam Witwer (most recently known for his work on Supergirl) hasn’t put in a good performance as the game’s lead; quite the opposite in fact.

What it does excel at, however, is setting up a bevy of tense, atmospheric setpieces. Employing a range of stealth manoeuvres to sneak past freakers is always unnerving, especially when you lack the firepower to put up a good fight early on in your journey. Even a single foe can be the end of you, let alone a pack.

Days Gone horde
Freakers are always something you should fear

Once your arsenal eventually does ramp up, so too does the action. Tackling groups of enemies with ease is immensely satisfying and by the time you’re facing a real horde, it’s hard not to be equal parts impressed and terrified.

At its core, Days Gone is bloody, it’s brutal and is actually pretty darn enjoyable. It’s hardly a perfect experience, filled with perhaps a few too many fetch quests and the occasional gameplay bug, but you’ll still likely be sucked in all the same. In a year so far filled with looter shooters and online-centric services – Days Gone should do well to scratch your single-player itch.

You can buy Days Gone here.