Well, alive and kicking to a certain extent anyway. Days Gone was showcased at Sony’s conference at this year’s E3, it is being developed by Bend Studio and will be an exclusive for the PS4. If you break down what Days Gone is, it sounds a lot like many, many other titles that are knocking about these days; open-world, action/adventure survival games. If you search on Steam you can find an abundance of these games in many different forms, and more so in the form of a zombie/horror survival game. Many people have expressed disdain for the zombie genre, many feeling it is so over-egged that the pudding is burnt to a crisp.
However, let’s cast our minds back to the beginning of 2015. Anybody who knows me knows of my love for Dying Light. Techland’s innovative zed title truly opened our eyes to what a zombie game can be about. Even a year after it’s release, Techland continued to take care of its undead baby by releasing excellent add-ons and a DLC that rivalled the main game, The Following. I ploughed so many hours into crafting the most ludicrous looking weapons, searching Harran high and low and running for my life from my besties, the Volatiles.
When I first saw the Days Gone trailer at the E3 showing, I first thought “ermahgawd, new zombies!” but apparently the developers have said they are not your run-of-the-mill zombie. Directors, John Garvin and Jeff Ross have both explained that these creatures are “Freakers”, there are “Newts” which are teenager Freakers who will only attack you if you are vulnerable (how kind) and lastly the Horde, is one completely separate being. They went on to explain that the Freakers have their own framework as a community. They will interact with each other, not just with alive and kicking humans, and they also have dormant periods – imagine that, a little Freaker resting its weary head, in preparation to tear yours off in the morning.
As a result of a pandemic that turned people into a mindless and feral beings, it is really hard to not think of them as zombies. Similarly, in 28 Days Later the victims of the ‘rage virus’ were alive but completely devoid of human thought and full of violent rage. I think when humans are taken over by a pandemic virus, that turns people mindless and feral beings, it’s hard not to think ‘zombie’. In The Last of Us, the infected are described by most, if not all, as zombies. They were aggressive, mindless and kill uninfected people on sight and that’s your average zombie description these days.
What fascinated most about this upcoming IP is the mechanics of the Horde. The fluidity, and rag-doll like way they all clamber over each other to get just a nibble on the protagonist’s arm was a sight to see! The developers have created another way in which your modern infected move about to get to their dinner, gone are the days of the old-school shuffler where you could just push the soul over and escape their clutches.
Days Gone definitely screams influences from the much revered, The Last of Us by Naughty Dog. However, unlike The Last of Us, which was more linear, Days Gone will boast an impressive looking open-world environment, full of freakers. The game developers have even commented that they are not even sure how many Freakers will be on screen at any given time:
Yager: A lot. We’re still optimizing.
Allen: We can’t wait for the Neogaf stuff where everyone’s trying to count how many guys are on the screen at once.
Overall, this zombie game fan is very excited for this particular IP. It just goes to show that even though everyone may think zombie games may be dead (yes, see what I did there) they are certainly wrong. As time goes on our much loved horror monster will develop as it has done since George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.