For many the zombie genre of games seems to be over saturated with titles for those looking to spend time eliminating the undead hordes. However, does this game bring anything new to the table that would make it a viable title for your collection?
Developed by Techland (Dead Island) Dying Light places you in the role of undercover agent Kyle Crane. You start the game with a HALO jump into the fictional city of Harran. The premise is, during the Olympics a zombie outbreak occurred and the entire city has been quarantined. Within seconds of landing on the ground you are attacked and end up becoming infected yourself. Now you have double the motivation to find the Doctor you were sent for who’s working on a cure.
So after going through an extensive Tutorial you finally get out into the world armed with what ever you can get your hands on. The world around you is gorgeous and very well realized. Getting into combat with zombies at this point is really tough. Your weapons, usually a metal pipe or a piece of wood, have limited durability so you will spend most of your time avoiding conflict. That’s no bad thing though as it gets you to engage in this games strongest mechanic, parkour. It’s incredibly fun to run around rooftops and discover loot hidden throughout the city.
The missions for the most part seem superfluous and are not the strongest element of the game. Pretty much a bunch of uninteresting ‘go for’ missions for the entire game. Add to this, stereotypical bad guys that would make a bond villain proud. The main protagonist Kyle is not a likable or memorable character. This is because of his overall selfish and nonchalant attitude only serves to make him a very one-dimensional character. That said, I found this game most fun when played with a friend. There are real tense moments while your friend lock picks an Ambulance or Police vehicle and you stand guard for any zombies that come too close.
The combat mechanics are great. You feel like there’s weight in each swing. The slow motion and ‘X-ray’ critical damage indicators really add to the visceral action. Eventually you will get guns that are adequate enough. However, you’ll soon be going back to melle weapons, as they are easily the most fun to use. Leveling up is entirely reliant on what you do within the game. Skill trees are separated into three categories, Survival, Agility and Power. You get XP by performing actions that logically correspond to each tree. Survival, completing missions and loot. Agility, you get for performing parkour. Power, you get for combat. The idea is to get you to level up according to your play style. Which seems cool but you will at times feel forced to get skills you don’t really want or need, as there’s nothing else to spend the point on. The unique aspect of the game is the dynamic day/night cycle that introduces the more terrifying stronger enemies that will make you fear going out at night. Well, they do, for a while.
Here we come to the weakest aspect of the game. There’s no power scaling past a certain point. The nighttime enemies are about as tough as it gets and while you increase in power, they don’t. Later in the game I was slaughtering tones of them with little to no effort. The very selling point of being afraid to go out when it goes dark simply fizzles away and becomes nonexistent. Enemy variety is severely lacking in this game. Yes, there are the standard varieties of zombie we have become accustomed to but nothing truly new or original. So, what starts as a fun survival game becomes a power fantasy that’s repetitive and dull as it lacks any real challenge.
Dying Light has 4-player co-op online, which is fun to a certain degree. You can loot share, which almost breaks the game as you can wield weapons from higher level. In my opinion 4 players is overkill, 2 players, for the most part, feels about right. There is no split screen co-op, which is a shame as it would have been perfect for a game like this. There’s also a, “Be the Zombie” mode. Which if you caught the running theme of this game so far is, fun to start with but lack of variety hampers how much you will play it before getting bored. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a bad game or that it’s not fun at all. The parkour mechanics and combat are the shining jewel of this game by far. But. I can’t help but feel they started this game with some great ideas and tried to show it off all at once. Almost like they totally forgot about the end game and longevity within a very competitive and already saturated market.
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