The capture gallery on my PlayStation 4 is filled to the brim with terrible photography. Why? Because of the function that creates a screenshot for every trophy you unlock. From games such as God of War to Days Gone host a mirage of black screens, blurred character models and pause menus punctuate these folders. Turning this feature off is a possibility, but part of me still yearns for that perfect moment to be captured, that I otherwise would have missed.
Unfortunately, it’s mainly an unclear indication of how I’ve earned that trophy and gives me little to no satisfaction in seeing how it transpired. The whole reasoning behind trophies is to view past accomplishments and relish in the achievements of your gaming career. Having an image to back up these profound moments should be a reflection of the trophy itself. It’s an underutilized mechanic, that even after years of being available, has not reached its full potential.
Days Gone by Bend Studio aims to break that rule.
As recognized and revealed via Twitter, Days Gone successfully marinates its story-related trophies with beautiful backdrops. The moments captured on camera are intended to perfectly resonate against the trophy unlocked. It’s a scientific fact that images invoke memories more efficiently than words. Our memories can become clouded and often misinterpret past events, whether good or bad. Having an image can help us resonate more fondly with the feeling that the moment gave us.
It was intentional! I scripted all of the storyline Trophies in #DaysGone to pre-capture a cool moment within a cinematic that tied to the intent of the Trophy. Thanks for noticing! https://t.co/qRxUgwCF8V
— Eric Jensen #DaysGone (@Lorderk) October 8, 2019
Primarily, images are used to capture a moment, a feeling, a memory, and looking back infuses those past emotions inside us. Days Gone’s mechanic perfectly represents this. The story is a lengthy affair, with a straightforward playthrough being able to reach the 30+ hour range.
That’s a lot of time.
Through the course of this adventure, Days Gone aims to invoke a wide range of emotions. Despair, loss, and hope, to name a few. It can often get lost in the hordes of infected killings (or “Freakers” as Days Gone refers to them) and open-world activities, losing what the game is trying to make you feel.
To its detriment, the story of Days Gone can often feel unfocused to an outside player. Certain plot threads seem to meander, and the whole affair feels reminiscent of a TV series. Long plot threads run through its veins, before becoming tangled and conjoining with the bigger picture. This works to Days Gone advantage, offering players the opportunity to latch onto particular strands that resonate better with them. One common thread that runs through these all is the unlocking of trophies, and the images captured that accompany them.
Spoilers ahead for Act 1 of Days Gone.
Remember The Fallen
Since this news, I’ve loaded up the capture gallery. Low and behold, the folder is filled with the negatives that hold back this mechanic. But amongst all of the clutter, are hidden gems.
This was how my adventure started: a small exchange between two characters. Amongst all the horror, action, and drama, I had forgotten this moment. In Days Gone, you play as character Deacon St. John, played incredibly by Sam Witwer. Rather than relying on exposition, this scene perfectly illustrates the motivations of Deacon and the rules that bind him to this world.
The world of Days Gone is cruel, desolate, and barren. Deacon retains himself in a morally grey area amongst all of the bloodshed. Remembering how far he’s come, his journey becomes all that more impactful. It displays how well-written Deacon is, and how he’s retained his principles over the 30+ hour campaign.
A Serial Adventure
Each segment of the map plays out in the style of a TV series, each with their own plotlines and conclusion. An overall arc runs through the entire story, but more often than not, a variety of threads are tied up before advancing. Days Gone portrays this via an in-game storyline tracker, which pinpoints each plot thread and each key moment within.
One of the early threads involves your best friend, Boozer, who becomes severely wounded in the game’s opening hours. Much of the first act revolves around finding Boozer medical aid. These early hours build up the relationship between you both, showcasing how each of you assists each other in the world.
This moment defined the end of that act. Just by seeing this image, I was reminded of all the conflicts and struggles Deacon and Boozer had in this location. The first act of Days Gone is long and intentionally so. The lack of focus within the story may prove a struggle to some, but for me, it highlights how well written these characters are. Building up through a series of situations, and seeing how they react via their actions speaks a lot louder than words.
Much of their initial turmoil comes out them not from the zombie-esque “Freakers,” but from these guys.
Known as “Rippers,” this insane cult worship the Freakers, mutilate their own body, and consume drugs to become a formidable foe. Much of the game’s first act revolves around world-building and Deacon’s involvement within. Rippers embody everything truly awful that has come from the Freaker uprising and display the worst of humanity.
This single image is an instant reminder of the true evil that resided in this faction of characters. Most importantly, though, it serves as a reminder of the catalyst of the events that unfolded.
Act one of Days Gone ends with one of my favorite moments of the game — a long motorcycle ride through the harsh landscape. I had forgotten about this moment amidst all of the action that unfolded afterward. These images reminded me of that moment and how I want to experience it again.
Days Gone of Future Past
It’s becoming common practice now that games incorporate a photo mode into their game. Days Gone is no exception. Throughout my 50+ hour involvement, I created a multitude of images. The robust creator managed to ensure my creations were of the utmost quality and perfectly represented my views on the area.
Here’s a snapshot of me embracing in the calmer moments of Days Gone.
The world of Days Gone is a beautiful dystopian wasteland. Injected within this open-world is a constant reminder of the incredible world that Bend Studio created. By purposely crafting their own photographic moments to invoke memories, provide stunning backdrops or showcase a story, the designers have shown a love for their craft.
Every story-related trophy images manage to say more than words could. It’s a practice that more developers should embrace and love. By displaying these perfectly timed images, it gives the player a chance to relive their most impactful moments.
From this, I hope more developers take away what Days Gone has accomplished. By delivering us these memories, we are given a token to take away and a remembrance that is stronger than any trophy could be.