Days Gone Director John Garvin has denounced negative critique of the game, laying some of the blame on woke reviewers who couldn’t handle a white male protagonist “looking at his date’s ass.”
In a since-deleted tweet responding to a user who asked how Days Gone “didn’t get universal praise from critics,” Garvin went on to share three reasons as to why he thought this was the case. These included the game having “tech issues like bugs, streaming, and frame rate”, “reviewers who couldn’t be bothered to actually play the game,” and “woke reviewers who couldn’t handle a gruff white biker looking at his date’s ass.”While user reviews on Steam and Metacritic are quite positive, critic scores are slightly lower. While user reviews across PC and PlayStation 4 average out to 8.6 out of 10 on Metacritic, the Metascore from critics is 73 out of 100.
Nonetheless, Days Gone does have its fair share of scorn, with some taking issue with protagonist Deacon St. John. Kotaku’s Joshua Rivera notes in his review that, along with the game’s narrative being derivative of the post-apocalyptic genre, Deacon wasn’t anything new either.
“It is exhausting to watch another gruff white dude experience the extremes of humanity brought about by disaster, to be torn between pure, reliable self-interest and the fragile strength of community, as if those are the only two ways to be,” Rivera argued.
He added, “It’s dumping water into the ocean, failing to offer anything new in favor of blending formlessly into arguments made by 10 years of The Walking Dead and countless post-apocalyptic games of its ilk.”
VG247’s Kirk McKeand compared Deacon to a “sexist, murderous Batman who wears a backwards cap and a biker gang cut. T—tman.” This was partly motivated by Deacon killing bikers vandalizing the church he married his wife in and then burning it down so it cannot be vandalized further.
Polygon’s Colin Campbell stated in his preview that Deacon “came across as a bloviated paragon of old-school road warrior machismo. He was so badly written that, at one point, assembled critics laughed at his lines.” In the outlet’s full-length review, Alyse Stanley said Deacon reminded her of “at least half a dozen other video game protagonists.”
Vice’s Patrick Klepek insisted “the game tries to present him as a morally complex anti-hero and it doesn’t land.” He then added, “It’s one thing to present players with a character they’re supposed to feel conflicted about, but what am I supposed to do with a person who says you ‘can’t shoot a woman unless you have to,’ while later selling a woman he saved to a labor camp, knowing she’ll spend her whole life digging ditches for the tyrant running the place?”
In his review for ScreenRant, Ty Sheedlo noted, “Deacon is generally unlikable, killing plenty of non-freakers in a very Nathan Drake-like fashion-” their personality mismatching how they feel little anguish over killing foes, even with the odd quip.
Sheedlo also takes issue with Deacon’s commitment to his “biker-shtick” in the post-apocalypse, and even his morals against killing unarmed women. “This macho-man perspective sort of puts a damper on some of the more interesting side-narratives. ”
Several critics also took issue with Deacon’s romance with Sarah Whitaker, his deceased wife. Eurogamer’s Malindy Hetfeld not only took issue with a female character “existing entirely to enable the male protagonist’s pain,” but feeling the character would have no romantic interest in Deacon.
She explained, “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,” Hetfeld decried.
Keith Stuart, writing for the UK’s The Guardian, curtly notes in his review, “The romance between Deacon and Sarah is also unconvincing. Why did this cultured scientist fall for a charmless, monosyllabic man-child in a backwards baseball cap? For a 20-hour story, it is not enough for the writers just to go with, ‘Hey, opposites attract.'”
Gamespot’s Kallie Plagge echoed the sentiment in her review. She felt the flashback scenes where just Deacon and Sarah talking about “surface-level topics” without providing “a convincing reason why they’re together.”
“Deacon is a biker and Sarah is a ‘nice girl’ scientist, which is fine, but ‘opposites attract’ isn’t enough to make their relationship compelling,” she bemoaned.
“It’s romantic in that Deacon hasn’t given up on Sarah, but the main takeaway from the flashbacks is that they’re physically attracted to each other and that Deacon doesn’t talk about his feelings.” That physical attraction was shown in a tweet by Plagge.
“Here’s my Days Gone review!” Plagge promoted, “And HERE… is my favorite screenshot from the entire game.” Sure enough, it shows Deacon staring at Sarah’s butt, much like Garvin alluded to. As a point of pure speculation, it may be this very tweet that Garvin had seen.
Days Gone developer Bend Studio issued a statement to Twitter the day following Garvin’s Tweet. “We are aware of the comments made by our previous Creative Director on Days Gone regarding his personal view on the critical reception of our intellectual property.”
“Bend Studio does not share his sentiment, nor does it reflect the views of our team,” the developer insisted. “Our studio is immensely proud of the work we accomplished on Days Gone and are thankful to every developer who poured their heart and soul into it.”
“We are incredibly humbled by the support of our Days Gone community and we will continue to share your enthusiasm for our world and characters as we look toward the future.”