Dying Light is a brand new, sandbox type, zombie/apocalyptic first person shooter. It came out for Microsoft Windows, Linux, SteamOS, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One platforms on 27 January 2015 in North America and 28 January 2015 in Europe and Australia.
In this 3-part review I will give a good look at the game from different perspectives, but If you want the gist of it, here it is: The game is fun, scary and very entertaining, but it’s very far from original. Aspects of it are “borrowed” from games like Far Cry (the whole franchise and especially from the last one, Far Cry 4), Thief, Assassin’s Creed, Mirror’s Edge and a few others I can’t recall at the moment, as well as popular zombie TV shows such as “The Walking Dead”.
Dying Light is also one of the new-gen games. By that I mean that it is tailored for the new consoles (Xbox 1, PlayStation 4) and for powerful PCs. My own rig (Quad Q6700, 8GB DDR2, Radeon HD5850) can still run it, but definitely shows a strain.
So let’s begin:
Plot & Gameplay
Dying Light game mechanics will be familiar for anyone who ever played any kind of first person shooter. The default ASDW keys are in play, as well as F (for action), Tab (or mouse wheel) for weapon change, I for inventory, and so on.
The game itself revolves around Kyle Crane (played by you), a GRE undercover agent who’s deployed into the infected city of Harran in order to cease classified documents from the hands of a dangerous fugitive, Kadir Suleiman (aka Rais) who made the city his home. The city holds two factions that fight each other for food, medicine and safe locations. One is “The Tower” who are the good guys, and the ones who saves you after almost being mauled by zombies upon landing, and the other is Rais’s gang – a vicious group of outlaws ruling by power and intimidation.
Time is quite important in Dying light as there’s a day/night cycle where the day is relatively safe with slow “normal” zombies roaming the streets alleys and buildings. However, the night is a whole new ballgame, with Volatiles roaming the streets. Volatiles are “Super Zombies”, they are smarter, faster, and when they find you they will converge in a pack to hunt you down. However, they only come out at night, so if you want to play it safe (er) you can duck into a safe house and spend your night there.
But safe is not a word you can use regarding the gameplay. You will die many times over. If not for zombies, than for unfortunate accidents – such as falling from building and towers, or failing to correctly estimate the distance required for a jump from one spot to the next.
The game is very much Parkour friendly. That’s the part that was borrowed from games like Assassin’s Creed in which you leap from building to building, jumping while running and perform acrobatics on the go.
As in games like Far Cry 4, Dying light offers towers to activate (quite more difficult than FC4 to my taste), safe houses to clear from zombies and make usable, and a vast area with different environments (although mostly urban) to explore.
Degradation is another aspect of the gameplay. Your weapons are degraded with each and every use (makes sense since they’re mostly makeshift pieces of metal and wood), and the number of times you are allowed to fix them is limited, so you must keep your eye on your current weapon usability and cycle between them so as not the remain virtually defenseless against the hordes of living dead. You can also use your environment to some degree – spiked fences to kill zombies fast by pushing them onto it is one good option, while another is to electrocute a pool of water and let zombies step inside it.
Aside from the Main plot of accomplishing your task and helping the good guys (not always the same thing), you will find plenty of side quests to enjoy, and those will bring you to new areas of the city, with new terrors and plenty of zombies to go around.
The protagonist (AKA you, Kyle Crane) battles with orders from his superiors as well as tasks he is made to do by the evil Rais in order to keep the Tower people alive. He’s a good man in an impossible situation, but the game does not allow for decision making as the choices are made for you, unlike games like Far Cry 4, and others with decision trees that allow the plot to be changed by the player’s decisions. My guess is that using decision trees would have made a heavy game even heavier and the developers chose to pay the price of a more linear game for a bigger player target audience.
The game also allows you to tinker with crafting. You start the game with pretty much nothing, and collect makeshift weapons off the street and from shops and traders as you gather funds from bodies, boxes and containers. But it will take a long time till you get an actual gun. However, till then, you can combine different artifacts to give your makeshift sticks and knifes a little more oomph – such as fire, electricity, and even throwing stars that can freeze, burn or explode upon contact.
To sum up (this part): Gameplay is a standard funfare of first person shooters, with some twists taken from other games – like parkour, crafting, and day/night cycle to name a few. It doesn’t subtract from the game experience, and the visuals are quite impressive, but it does feel like the developers sacrificed a bit much of the gameplay to achieve the graphic fidelity of the game.
See you in the next part of the review!