Its getting late , I can tell from the ear splitting alarm that is screeching through my PS4 controller , this is where the mad dash to get to a safe house starts. This is the world of Dying Light an ambitious open world zombie apocalypse game from the guys who made Dead Island. This is a great leap forward for the folks at Techland and definitely proves that they are more than capable of making a AAA title.
The game starts with you taking on the role of Kyle Crane tasked by the GRE to air drop into the city of Harran which is under quarantine due to an outbreak of a unknown pathogen and has been walled in. The GRE like all good government organizations wants you to get int the city and find the guy they put in charge who surprisingly has decided he doesn’t want to play along any more, oh and the unknown pathogen has the nasty habit of turning the infected into zombies. Honestly i loved this set up it almost makes the zombies a secondary situation and puts the humans in the forefront , its an interesting way of handling the zombie apocalypse and works really well in this case.
Normally I would split the next few things into separate sections but its hard to talk about the combat, controls, and game play separately . All of the above are well done but not without their drawbacks, the combat takes a little getting used to, its a lot of timing your hits and watching your stamina, while this definitely adds to the tension in fights it can be a pain and lead to some frustrating deaths. The main focus is on melee combat and while there are several guns in the game ammo can be scarce and they tend to attract more zombies than they kill. The controls and game play are oddly simple yet complex at the same time, the free running maniac is as simple as a button press yet its all about timing , hit the trigger too soon and it slows you down too late and you very well could miss a handhold and fall to your death, its very hit or miss there is a slight delay between actually hitting a button and the action on screen. This is one of the few areas where the game falls short of expectations but its not unmanageable once you get a feel for it.
I loved the simple level system too, your skills are broken into three categories Survivor , Agility , and Power. Survivor gives you general perks for surviving the zombie apocalypse like being able to barter or repair gear faster , one of my favorites is the camouflage perk, which you basically rub zombie guts on you to make you invisible to them. Agility helps your parkour skills and general speed and climbing and Power boosts your attacks and makes you a better zombie killing machine.
Graphically this game is really well done, it’s definitely beyond the last few Dead Island games, and that might not be saying a whole lot. I loved the attention to detail in some of the buildings you could get into , boarded up windows , collapsed staircases and toppled furniture all give the feeling that the survivors left in the city have been picking apart what they can find. The bloody hand print smears , scratch marks and decaying bodies complete with flies these leave a much more and less subtle impact at the events that unfolded in the early stages of the outbreak. All the little details in this game bring a very eerie life to Harran, it’s a beautiful and ruined world , one of my favorite details was the shadows cast on the ground by the trees , they moved like individual branches swaying in the soft breeze it was one of the few calming moments in an otherwise dystopian world.
As with Techland’s previous zombie games this one is loaded with bugs and glitches , something I was hoping they would have over come by now , there were plenty of times when i was on the other side of a fence or window and would get hit by several zombie attacks, i did try to retaliate a few times to no avail this felt cheap in a way , there were also a few glitches that have sprung up on the internet for duplication weapons and ways to level up faster even duplicating the air drops that you spend a lot of time hunting down to level up you survivor skills. This really cheapens the game these are bugs and glitches that should have been fixed in beta, its a shame that they weren’t caught as much fun as it is to be less than an hour into the story with all of the survivor skills unlocked it almost leads to a whats the point scenario.
Online is where this game shines , with a seamless drop in and drop out co-op option and several ways to leave you game open to people to come in and help you or in some cases hunt you down and kill you , this is by far my favorite mode, Be the zombie is amazingly well done and while its competitive nature seems to leave any human players at a severe disadvantage it is oddly satisfying when you out last the Hunters and see dawn breaking. One of the other ways that the game keeps you involved are random multiplayer competitions, like race to the target or gather the most loot or kill the most zombies , these are fun little breaks in the story and really just give you bragging rights over your friend.
Overall this is a brilliant game that could change the way you look at zombie games and co-op in general , it gets a lot of things right and moves the bar forward for the genre, unfortunately it also drops the ball on a lot of things that in this generation shouldn’t be over looked.