Dying Light (PS4) Review
Chad Whitney / Feb 11th, 2015 No Comments
After a rather lengthy delay, Techland has finally released Dying Light. The newest addition to the survival-horror zombie craze is the developer’s mulligan for Dead Island, which has progressively gotten worse with each iteration.
The promise of innovation was easy to scoff at, considering that’s been heard before with zombie games. It wasn’t that Dead Island didn’t provide innovation, it just failed to deliver a truly open world. The game was still fun, regardless of its untapped potential. Dying Light’s Harran, a city that has been quarantined due to an outbreak of face-hugging zombies, provides a much more expansive universe than the island of Banoi, and the game is much better for it.
Unlike Dead Island, Dying Light’s story follows a single character. Kyle Crane has been dropped into Harran by the Global Relief Effort (GRE) with a mission to find a terrorist named Kadir Suleiman and recover a stolen file. Queue the dramatic music. The thing is, he doesn’t know what Suleiman looks like so he must infiltrate two main groups of survivors in the slums of Harran in an effort to identify him.
The first group he finds is a group of survivors in a heavily fortified high-rise known as the Tower. They are led by Harris Braken, a former parkour instructor. Jade, a three-time kickboxing champion, rescues Crane from an exuberant gaggle of zombies after he uses his gun to fend off a few members of a hostile group of survivors referred to as bandits. The bandits are led by Rais, a powerful and ruthless faction leader in Harran. As a wise man once said, “some men just want to see the world burn.” Rais is one of those men. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he likes seeing the affection of a zombie face-hug, but he seems to relish the chaos caused by the outbreak.
Throughout the story, Crane is tasked with doing the job assigned to him by the GRE while also dealing with his own morality and desire to help Tower survivors. The original plan of identifying Suleiman and recovering the stolen file quickly escalates to Crane destroying large amounts of antidote known as Antisin only to eventually aid in creating and securing the cure being developed within the city. Some inevitabilities remind the player of the hopelessness of the situation, but keep the player emotionally attached to the story until the credits roll.
Dirty Pretty Zombie
Dying Light sports very impressive graphics courtesy of Chrome Engine 6. As Crane parachutes into the city of Harran, players are given a glimpse of the stunning visuals in Dying Light. The remote city is beautiful and vast. Players can see the remnants of what was once a robust metropolis before zombies took over. The rays from the sun provide a melodramatic ambience that sets the mood of a mild day in a dying metropolis plagued with death resurrected.
The game features a dynamic day-night cycle, so lighting changes throughout the day. Dying Light especially shines when the light casts shadows throughout the city, which comes in handy when players need to be stealthy. Night time is extremely dark, adding to the eerie ambiance. Without using the flashlight, it is nearly impossible to maneuver around Harran at night. Volatiles are repelled by UV lights, so safe zones are identified by the bluish-purple lighting. Overall, the visuals are impressive, and even explosions are Michael Bay quality.
The Zombie Experience
Dying Light uses lessons learned from the shortcomings of Dead Island and the successes of multiple first-person games. The game takes Dead Island’s original idea of providing a first-person open-world zombie apocalypse and gives players much more freedom to explore. Dying Light deserves its own identity, but some similarities can’t be denied. To be blunt, it seems to be the sexy lust-child of Dead Island and Mirror’s Edge, and hints of influence from Fallout and Left 4 Dead can also be detected. That said, it all comes together to work well.
Techland took a far more serious approach to Dying Light than it did for Dead Island. However, Dying Light is not too serious for its own good. Survivors will find and craft weapons that allow for some awesome exaggerated annihilations, and the characters within the game all have their own post-apocalyptic sense of humor.
In order to allow players more freedom than ever, the game lets the player commute with the ancient art of parkour. Freerunning plays a big part in the game’s mechanics. Of course, everybody loves testing their might in epic brawls with hordes of zombies, but in Dying Light, things go zero-to-100 real quick. Zombies may not be very intelligent, but they are brutal and collective. Killing one often results in three more zombies appearing. Then, there’s Virals, zombies who have just recently turned. Because they have only recently become zombified, they maintain a few human traits, most notably, the ability to parkour nearly as well as humans.
To have the best chance of surviving, players must unlock a number of skills in a traditional skill tree. There are three trees for players to grow: survivor, agility, and power. Experience is gained by performing actions that pertain to their class. Survivor points are acquired for nearly everything pertaining to not dying, while climbing walls and damaging zombies gain agility and power points respectively.
Surviving with Friends
When playing cooperatively, players can challenge each other to random events. Run into a horde and compete to see who can kill the most zombies in two minutes, or race to objectives and challenges to see who does the most damage to Bruisers. The game allows players to share experience and loot, but gamers aren’t always given the same loot. While medical supplies and ammunition are typically mutual, weapons seems to vary per player.
Another fun online experience is Be the Zombie mode, a competitive multiplayer mode. Players are allowed to play as a Night Hunter, an extremely dangerous predator. Able to traverse the map quickly and extinguish foes in one attack, hunters are given the task of protecting nests of Volatiles while hunting survivors. Unfortunately for survivors, zombies have a big time advantage. Players controlling Night Hunters can also drop into friend’s matches at night to add an entirely new aspect to surviving the dangers of night. As an incentive to play during the dreaded night time, regardless of the presence of Night Hunters and Volatiles, players receive double experience.
Dying Light is extremely fun, especially when playing cooperatively. It’s easy to pass over the game as “been there, done that,” but Dying Light is not like any other zombie game previously released. It provides a truly open-world zombie apocalypse that gamers have craved for years.
Zombies are challenging, and usually have an advantage over the player, even after completely leveling up. A fairly engaging story teaches players the essentials required to survive fending for themselves in Harran. The co-op gameplay is not only fun, but seemingly essential to surviving larger hordes. This is a must have for every zombie enthusiast, and gamers looking for a fun social game to play with friends.
tags: dead island , dying light , Dying Light Review , review , techland