GAME NAME: Dying Light
PUBLISHER(S): Warner Bros.
GENRE(S): Survival Horror
RELEASE DATE(S): January 27th, 2015
Dying Light was possibly one of the most hyped games released thus far on next gen systems. Techland originally planned to release the game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 but later decided to cancel those versions due to it not accomplishing the vision they had for Dying Light. There would’ve been a lot of game elements and features that probably would not have made it into the last gen versions, which makes sense and I’m happy that developers are starting to consider next gen only for upcoming games. We received the PC build of Dying Light and I even had the luxury of comparing it side by side with the PlayStation 4 version just to see what visual differences there were if any. Both versions looked near identical with the exception of the PC version having a tad bigger draw distance and substantially shorter load times.
The story of Dying Light lands you in the shoes of Kyle Crane, who is on a mission for the government as an undercover agent to retrieve a certain file that went missing. You will be thrown right into the center of the quarantined city of Harran, where an outbreak has occurred creating undead hordes known as the “infected”. Upon dropping into the city via parachute, you end up crossing paths with one of the two factions that reside within Haran and they take you in. The two factions are known as runners and bandits. Runners are constantly scavenging for supplies to live and survive within the walls of Harran and the bandits are out to take whatever they can get and killing all who oppose them. Kyle is thrown into the middle of this conflict and you become one of the runners to help gather supplies or do favors for other survivors in Harran.
As the player, you will be trying to fit in and gain an advance in knowledge of the residents within the city, hoping to succeed in your mission from the government. The characters you come across are full of personality and accents, being that this is in South America. There are tons of side quests that can take your attention away from the main story, which has happened to me way too often. Doing a lot of those side quests can be rewarding and possibly too premature for your current skill as some of them are completed in areas of the map that are filled with over powered zombies or dangers other than zombies. Some of the missions, whether it be side quests and story missions can get repetitive in nature and sometimes boring. The main story is possibly the most bland part of Dying Light and I highly suggest doing the side quests and explore to find as much loot as you can. I have found myself more prone to exploring areas of the map with that sense of caution for the thrill of finding new items, weapons or blueprints for new weapons.
Dying Light focuses heavily on the parkour aspect and makes you feel that being on the streets is a bit too dangerous. I do like the new added feature to a Dead Island style formula, although it can get overly frustrating at times in the beginning of the game. You have to literally look at the area you want to grab and climb, which can cause issues if you aren’t paying attention and forget to technically aim where you’re going. The jump button has been mapped to the right shoulder button for those who use a controller and that will cause many falls off of buildings. Techland should have allowed an option to change the jump to the typical A or X depending on the controller you use, but after about an hour of playing you get used to the shoulder button for jumping.
There is a bit of an RPG element within Dying Light and you will have three skill trees to upgrade as you see fit. Your three skill areas to level up and unlock new abilities are Survival, Agility and Power. You gain experience for doing a variety of tasks within Dying Light with the obvious one being that you completed a mission. Agility can be leveled up by simply jumping from rooftop to rooftop or climbing and using your parkour skills. Power is from attacking the undead and killing them successfully, which will gain experience for that skill. The Survival skill is the hardest to level up in my opinion simply because you are punished by dying and will lose experience you have gained for that attribute. Some people may like the whole punish/reward system, but this game makes it frustrating that you lose quite a bit of hard earned Survival points after dying.
The weapons are mainly melee focused and are found everywhere. You can also craft weapons once you obtain blueprints and collect all the supplies needed to create that weapon. There are also upgrades and modifications to add to almost all weapons that can give it strength boosts or even add an electric current to the weapon. Weapons will also break quite frequently and you have the option to repair that weapon if desired, although you will only have so many repairs available for each weapon until its out of commission. Guns are very spread out within the city of Haran and make you feel empowered once you get them. My advice is to only use melee weapons on the zombies and save your bullets for human enemies that you encounter since it damages them more.
Dying Light has an online mode available to anyone who wishes to play as a zombie. It is called “Be The Zombie” and it’s just average in my opinion. You take control of this overpowered zombie that can shoot out these grappling things from your wrist like Spider-man to climb buildings. The zombie does have his own skill tree for you to level up and being able to invade another players’ game is a different experience all together. I think the 4-player coop that is available for the main game is the highlight of Dying Light’s multiplayer modes. Having three other friends jump in and help create havoc and mayhem in a zombie infested city is more fun than I could possibly explain.
Like I explained before the jumping is a bit awkward at first being mapped to the right bumper if using a controller, but everything else is comfortable. The shooting, melee attacking and activating conversations or switches is as easy as any other shooter style game. The left bumper is your best friend when you’re in a bind since it will kick the zombies back and possibly opening a path to escape. The controls overall are pretty decent and work well with Dying Light, of course being able to map your own controls would’ve been ideal and made the beginning a little less frustrating.
Graphically this game is incredible, absolutely stunning with all the extreme amounts of detail in the environment. I have this game running at max settings at a smooth 60fps and it makes me want to stop at times and admire the surroundings and beautiful scenery. From particles running through the air to the leaves on the trees all moving on their own with the wind, everything makes you notice the detail that has been focused on within this game. Techland has definitely created a fully engaging and realistic world for you to survive while playing Dying Light. Even after you kill a zombie, their clothes are still fluttering in the wind and its those little details that make the experience that much better. The weather changes are fantastic and look great on this enclosed city of Harran. When the rain is pouring creating almost no visibility you almost have to find shelter to wait for it to pass over, unless you are a risk taker like me. The character models are decently detailed, but my biggest complaint is the mouth synchronization with the words they say. I feel that this game has definitely pumped out some breathtaking visuals and having mouths not syncing with words that characters say is a big issue to me. The game is all in first person, so you notice this since you are right in those character’s faces when they are speaking to you.
Dying Light has some fantastic sound that will create a true feel of you being right there as Kyle Crane. If you have a surround system or even amazing headphones then this game will be a treat for you to experience. The sounds of you smacking a wooden plank against an undead’s face has that satisfying crack and splat effect you know it should have. The music isn’t very apparent as the game is mainly built with ambient sounds and noise for you to feel more isolated.
Dying Light is the first big title to release in 2015 and I feel it delivered the expectations everyone wanted. Even though it was definitely over-hyped, I feel that you are still getting a decent experience and a sneak peak at what is to come from the new standards of next gen gaming. This game combines elements from Mirror’s Edge and Dead Island quite well that you feel like a badass at times jumping from building to building. Be The Zombie mode seems a bit under-developed in my opinion, but I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who would enjoy it. The 4-player coop is strong in this game and works really well to play with friends. I do wish you could remap your controls for a better ease of play from the start, but this was the developer’s dream controls apparently. The story isn’t top notch, but it does the job and especially if you do a lot of side quests then you will get your enjoyment out of Dying Light without disappointment. Like I said before the PC version I reviewed was almost near identical to the PS4 version and I’m sure the Xbox One version is roughly the same as well. Basically, if you get this for a console instead of PC I am positive you will be pleased at the quality visuals they can produce. For anyone who truly wants that next gen zombie experience then Dying Light is your go to game of 2015.