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Dying Light (PC) artwork

Dying Light (PC) review

"Dead Island Evolved"

Dying Light is a fantastic open world Survival Crafting Parkour Melee-Combat with Zombies Extraordinaire. Made by the same guys that created Dead Island, you will see bits and pieces of that somewhat disappointing experience interspersed with some new brilliant ideas.

The melee combat is fast and it is brutal, especially at first. Zombies donít fall apart like theyíre made out of paper (like in Dead Rising) and they feel like real, physical objects in the world. Theyíll grab and shove at you while youíre trying to get away from them, and it takes many, many bashes with the numerous melee weapons to take them down. You really get the feeling that while you play an able-bodied Parkour badass comfortable with taking on one or two zombies reliably, any more than that presents a real chance that you can die. It really convinces the player to move quickly through giant crowds, versus standing there and fighting them, as that will likely lead to your demise.

I canít remember another mainstream zombie game (except for maybe ZombieU) where the zombie enemies are such big threats, it makes every encounter feel dangerous and exciting. Much more of the game isnít focused on fighting them, but avoiding them with platforming and free-running. Every weapon will break eventually, despite having multiple repairs. This makes me want to avoid combat all the more, as I'm almost unwilling to use my best weapons since I'm "saving it" for tougher enemies. I think this is a feeling that the developers wanted to instill in its players, that nothing in this world is permanent and everything will eventually fall apart. As the game progresses, items last long enough to be less of a loss, prompting you to try out many different melee weapons since you'll be breaking them all the time.

The Parkour aspect in this game is the best Iíve ever seen in a FPS, for sure. Mirrorís Edge had great mechanics as well, but in that game I always felt like I was doing things I didnít mean to, while in Dying Light I feel like everything my character performs in game was what I was trying to do. If an object looks like you can hold on to it, you will automatically grab on. There isnít any fancy wall running or anything, but the movement is so fluid and smooth that it isnít required. Shoving my way through a field of zombies, only to leap on oneís shoulders, launching onto a telephone pole, and shimmying up to jump onto an apartment balcony is a great experience.

Within a couple hours youíll already feel great mastery of the free-running, it feels a lot like a first person Assassinís Creed, albeit smoother and faster. This is probably the most unique and well done portion of the game, without it will feel like a Dead Island-like melee slog, but the danger from crowds of zombies plus the simple intuitiveness of the free-running means youíll love parkouring everywhere. Just getting from objective to objective is a ton of fun.

As much of an untouchable badass you feel like during the day, the gameís title Dying Light will always be on the back of your mind. As soon as the sun sets, the world is bathed in an impenetrable night, illuminated only by your puny flashlight. Itís one of the more realistic night times in video games Iíve seen, you really canít see anything in the dark. The dangerous Volatile-type zombies are big, buff, fast runners that will chase you down and end you very quick, so youíre always on your toes, trying to stealth your way around them. If they find you, itís a panicked, terrifying sprint to a safe house, where you feel like a hunted animal (somewhat Outlast-like). This dichotomy of daytime and nighttime play go together very well, and players are encouraged to do objectives/missions during the night because of doubled XP bonuses. Itís also great that time progresses throughout your gameplay, so you can all of a sudden be caught out in the open AT NIGHT because you were too busy killing zombies for fun or in the middle of a mission, forcing you to frantically find shelter while groping blindly in the darkness.

The graphics of this game are beautiful, palm trees wave in the wind, ramshackle buildings are rife with details, and the setting sun casts a beautiful glow over everything, despite its warning of impending doom. Facial animations may look kinda weird, but the NPC designs are full of character and the game is well voice acted. Unfortunately, the base story is pretty predictable and full of zombie genre tropes, but the gameplay more than makes up for it. One thing that was a common complaint of Dead Island was that the firearms felt very weak, but in Dying Light they actually feel like guns, deadly and powerful. Ammo is pretty scarce so I would almost never use it, but when I decided to bust out my pistol thatís when things got real.

There are also human enemies that you can fight with melee, and they are pretty tough to fight, but itís always comical when they pull out a machete and I shoot them immediately, much like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Thankfully, the lack of ammo means that I canít use these guns all the time, and itís better to save the bullets for the armed human enemies.

Dying Light is one of the better open world games to come out recently. Great fun in single player, but even more fun in co op (up to 4 players). Itís great to parkour and kill zombies together, and there are tons of little competitions that you can dynamically choose to compete with your partner with, whether itís parkour racing or looting stuff. Dying Light recently had a huge expansion released called The Following that has been amazing during the little Iíve played. Techland has joined CD Project Red as another great Polish Developer, and I canít wait to see what they come up with next.

Project Horror 2016
Project Horror saw one (1) horror review submitted every day through the month of October. This review was part of that effort.

KT_Extinction's avatar
Community review by KT_Extinction (October 26, 2016)

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