Days Gone - Why we're excited about the return of Bend StudioGameSpot takes a look back at Days Gone developer Bend Studio, how it fits into gaming history and its part in some of the best and worst games ever made.
One of the big surprises of E3 was Days Gone. The game, set to release exclusively on PS4, finds drifter and bounty hunter Deacon St. John doing his best to carve out a life in the high desert of the Pacific Northwest, amidst a world overrun with hordes of zombie-like Freakers. But what's the history of Ben's studio the devs behind the game, and what have the got to do with a small studio named [UNKNOWN] and one of the worst games every made? [MUSIC] 1996 was a big year The first version of Java is released. The Spice Girls introduced the world and a 9 year old [UNKNOWN] to girl power and strange feelings respectively. And a company named Eidetic is helping a particular orange bobcat make the gaint leap from two to 3-D. Formed by Infocom founders Mark Black and Michael Bowen in 1993 with the expressed purpose of developing sport games for the Apple Mutant. They soon decided to expand, and focus on the emerging console market. Their first game, released on Halloween, was the horrific Bubsy 3D. The game was universally panned, and has gone on to be sited as one of the worst video games ever made. The control scheme, grading music, and the bland sparse, [UNKNOWN] world, all added up to a game about which Game Spot said Of all the 3-D action games out for the Playstation, Bubsy 3D is the least fun. the lackluster performance of the title and general inexperience of small team didn't deter Sony, who put them in touch with the producer from 989 Studios who was seeking to develop an action, espionage thriller. Originally conceived as just a name and a one page synopsis, according to creative director John Garvin Syphon Filter was another immensely difficult project for the burgeoning studio. The game came close to cancellation several times, as the devs didn't know anything about making realistic shooters set in the spy world. The team missed deadlines, revamped mechanics, and continually changed the story. Originally intended to be a science fiction oriented story about a group of kidnapped scientists, being forced to build a time machine, the storyline was finally changed Focusing on this shadowy agency agent Gabriel Logan and his partner as they investigate an emerging bio-terrorist threat in the form of the stalkenfiter virus. Much of this story in game in the form of radio communications with brief between mission cut scenes serving to highlight the bigger more cinematic moments. It seems Sony's faith was well placed as Siphon Filter was released in 1999 to critical acclaim. Giant Bomb, then Gamespot's Jeff Gerstmann said, Though the game does have some minor problems, the overall experience is nothing short of outstanding. The game was praised in particular for its AI with commendations for how certain enemies would react to the death of a comrade And how enemy behaviors would change each time a level was played sometimes in the form of taking cover or carrying different weapon. One particular stand-out weapon is the taser. When fired at the enemy, camera will repositioned to refocus on the victim as they cried in agony and if the trigger is held long enough that eventually goes into flame. Syphon Filter exceeded the expectations of both Sony and Eidetic, selling over 1 million units in its first year. And work immediately began on a sequel released in 2000. Syphon Filter 2 saw the first game expanded with liberal use of between mission cut scenes causing the game to be released across Two disk. But the sequel's biggest change, was the inclusion of two player split screen death match. While rudimentary by today's standard, it stood out at release thanks to brilliant level design. Including secret areas to get the drop on your opponent, an impressive arsenal of weapons, and the satisfying shooting and movement from the single player experience. Shortly after Syphon Filter 2 was released, Sony acquired Idenic and the company was renamed Bend Studios. The newly named studio and then set about releasing another four Syphon Filter games. Syphon Filter 3 for PS1, Syphon Filter The Omega Strain for PS2, and Syphon Filter Dark Mirror and Logan's Shadow for the PSP and PS2. After 11 years with Syphon Filter, it was time for Sony Bend to branch out and develop games for a new franchise. Bend decided to make a demo for what they had in mind. And after to showing it to Sony Worldwide Studios and Insomniac, they are approved to begin development on their next project, Resistance Retribution for the PSP. Building on the existing Resistance franchise, Retribution deviated from the series trademark first-person view to deliver a third-person action game on a scale never before seen on a portable device. Sony Bend cleverly tackled one of the shortcomings of Sony's first handheld, the absence of a second stick for aiming, by utilizing a bracketed auto-aiming area in the middle of the screen. Any targets that fell within the defined area could be auto-targeted with the push of a button. Retribution also introduced infected mode. It was possible to infect a copy of Retribution with the Chimera virus using a PS3 copy of Resistance 2. The mode unlocked several new mechanics such as regenerating health, increased lung capacity in order to reach secret areas, new weapons and infected intels. After proving their success with another studio's franchise Sony then went after the Mario of Playstation The Sonic of Sony, the super everyman himself, Nathan Drake. Bend went through several versions for their Uncharted game for the then unannounced PlayStation Vita. One idea would have seen players begin as a college-age Drake grifting his fellow students on campus, and another, in a huge departure for the franchise, was going to go open world. Players would have been able to move freely between their base camp where they could interact with supporting characters like Alaina and Sully and various ruin sites to battle mercenaries and local drug running thugs for ancient artifacts, finally they settled on a prequel to Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, titled Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Where in... Hired by his old friend Jason Dante to uncover secrets and treasures in the Central American Jungle. Utilizing some of the beta's unique functionality players are able to take charcoal rubbings using the front touch screen. Uncover hidden messages by holding the system up to a bright light and aim weapons in the in game SLR camera. Using the beta's Gyro. The game launched along Nvidia in 2011 and went on to sell 1.7 million copies world wide. It proved that triple A game experiences usually associated with high end consoles were capable on a portable system. At the conclusion of their time with Uncharted Sony brand went dark. Rumors swelled online as to what they were working on. In 2014 a leak purported to show concept from a work in progress open world horror game. Some of the art show characters wearing a very familiar white and black headset The Bend logo fades into the screen at Sony's E3 conference. Day's Gone kicks off the conference's trailer block with an effecting human look at it's tortured protagonist and post-apocalyptic world before closing out Sony's conference with a six minute gameplay presentation highlighting the impressive freaker hordes and environmental gameplay. after five years of silence Bend are back, and from the looks of it They're coming back bigger then than they've ever been before. So that's briefish history of Sony Bend. Have you checked out any of their games over the years? And what do you think of what we've seen of Dave's [INAUDIBLE]. Make sure to let us know in the comments and for more one Dave's [INAUDIBLE], keep it parked at Game Spot. [MUSIC]