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Dying Light Review

By Bond OO7

Dying Light presents a simple formula, Dead Island mixed with Mirrors Edge. That is the core concept of the game. On top of that the game sets out to make sure you fear the night time. But with it being developed by the same company as the abysmal Dead Island Riptide as well as the original Dead Island the goals may seem too lofty for this company. Will it succeed where the Dead Island games failed? Or will it simply be another game for the bargain bin?



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Developer: Techland
Publisher: Warner Bros
Format: PS4
Release Date: January 27th, 2015
Copy provided by publisher
Dying Light starts out strong, with a surprisingly engaging story. You are Kyle Crane, an employee of a company called GRE sent into a quarantine zone to acquire a package. What the package is or whether you are with the good guys or the bad guys remains a mystery. Your mission instantly hits a snag when you roughly land in Harran. You are met by some thugs who proceed to assault you. You are then rescued by a couple of other humans but not before you get bitten by one of the surrounding zombies. Waking up in “The Tower” you must continue with your mission but at the same time avoid suspicion from the community you have been adopted into.

Once you get control of Crane you very quickly notice one of the cool little features of the game. Radio calls, and certain actions such as picking up items, have their audio come through the controllers built in speaker. This really adds a sense of immersion to the game. Turning on your flashlight takes this feature a step further by making the light bar shine a bright light when activated, so sitting in a dark room makes you feel like you are in the game holding that flashlight.

Graphically the game is one of the most beautiful games this generation and it’s no surprise that the old-gen version was cut. The views achieved by the increased draw distances are stunning and even the smaller stuff like rain is gorgeous. The contrast between day and night is incredible too.The day time has a lot of color and is very vibrant whereas the night is so incredibly dark it’s hard to see without your flashlight on. This one simple aspect accomplishes what so many zombies games fail to capture, and that's a sense of fear. Dying Light manages to create a very tense night time experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Your view will become limited thanks to the darkness and your flashlight will be your best and only friend.




During the day the zombies are mostly your run of the mill zombies, slow walking and moaning around. There are a few other varieties around such as one that self-explodes and one that spits toxic acid, the former being a gigantic pain in the ass. If you get caught off guard by him he will instantly kill you, even with 2 health upgrades, which is really annoying. But none of the day time zombies come close to the creatures you encounter only at night. The most frightening being the “Volatile”. They are not to be messed with and if you get caught by one your best option is to run. These enemies alone make venturing out into the night a heart pounding experience.




Getting caught by these creatures isn't all bad though, doing so will give you the perfect chance to utilize the games awesome parkour mechanics. At first it takes some getting used to with the jump button being on R1 (RB for Xbox) but after an hour or 2 you will wonder why you thought it was any different. It just makes sense. It frees up your right thumb for looking around for the next jump so that you can string together move after move. It’s a very fluid experience that only gets better as you upgrade your character with more abilities. At first climbing is a little slow but it doesn't take too long to upgrade to make it faster. Another upgrade that makes the traversal so much more fun is the grappling hook. This item enables you to just zip straight up to the top of buildings, cliffs and pretty much anything you can aim at. It has a surprisingly long range as well. One downside to these mechanics is the lack of option to descend. If you climb up a tower and want to get down to the level below you there is no option but to use the zip line and climb back up again or drop and hope the damage isn't too great. A simply hang down mechanic would almost eliminate this problem. However while traversing the world is a lot of fun, sometimes when the objective is way on the other side of the city you can’t help but wish there was a fast travel mechanic. Even if it was only one at each end of the maps.

Combat is a very mixed bag, fighting zombies is great and really is just a more polished version of Dead Island. Smashing in zombie skulls is a very satisfying experience. The more you play the better it becomes as you get better weapons and weapon upgrades. However, combat with humans isn't as fun. They block your attacks and relentlessly cause you damage with no way to really stop it. You are better off finding a gun and just shooting them because melee combat with them is no fun at all. However if you choose to take this route out in the open zombies WILL hear the gunfire and they will be all over you in a heartbeat. This feature alone encourages melee combat throughout the game.




There are two open world areas within the game which are both very different from each other. The Slums is where you start out and its exactly what it sounds like. Shacks everywhere and a generally dirty look to the place. There are some beautiful sights to be seen but mostly you will be looking at run down buildings and mud. Getting around this area is very easy though with nothing being too high and everything being easily accessible with just a jump or two. It’s the perfect place to be introduced to the mechanics of the game and practice it before you hit the other area: Old Town. Old Town is a much prettier place to look at and is reminiscent of an Assassin’s Creed game. The buildings are much taller meaning there is a lot less room for error in your parkour, a fall from the roofs could easily kill you. This makes Old Town a much more fun place to play. Zombies in this area are generally much more viscous too, with a higher concentration of the special zombies instead of just the slow walking ones, even during the day!




The game’s story remains solid throughout with an interesting take on the done to death genre of zombies. Some of the ideas may remind gamers of Resident Evil, but Dying Light does enough to make it its own. Story missions in the game are very well paced with some slower missions revolving around planning or surviving, to some faster paced ones that involve being chased from hordes or shootouts against fellow humans. They are all very good all the way up until the final conflict. The final boss is just a quick time event which really destroys the buildup that leads up to it. I don’t know why Techland decided to take this route as some of the other battles in the game actually seemed pretty well thought out. It’s a real shame as it’s the only big mark on an otherwise awesome campaign.Side missions on the other hand, are not very imaginative. Most of them are just fetch quests. However, they give you a good excuse to explore the world and traverse more using the awesome free running, There are a few quests that are different as well but most will be nothing new to people already accustomed to the genre.

Aside from the awesome campaign the game also features (via dlc) a “Be The Zombie” mode. Here you get to join someone else's game in an attempt to kill them. Meanwhile they are tasked with destroying your nests that are scattered around the area. Playing as the zombie is very much a stealth experience that punishes you if you get caught by the humans. They are equipped with a UV flashlight which if they shine it in your face renders you pretty much useless. The mode seems like an after thought with not a whole lot of replay value outside of the zombie skill tree, but it is fun nonetheless and should provide 30 minutes to an hour of entertainment.



Dying Light takes the ideas behind the Dead Island series and this time makes a really good game from them. The parkour is a fantastic addition to the mix and the game does nothing but get more and more fun the more upgrades you earn. Day time may feel pretty light with no threat but as soon as the clock strikes 9 p.m. there is a real sense of dread as you try to survive the night. Techland have proved that they do have the capacity to make a great game when they put in the effort. Hopefully this game is the start of something great for the company.

Summary:
+Graphics
+Free Running Mechanics
+Upgrades
+Night time
+DualShock 4 Integration

-Pre-upgraded climbing
-Lack of climbing down option
-Lack of Fast Travel
-Human Combat
-Final Boss being a QTE


Score: 8/10



What I Played:
Finished the main story in single player while completing a handful of side-quests and looting every area I came across in about 20 hours. Also the tutorial and one game of 'Be The Zombie'.
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