I know I’m running slightly late with this one. I couldn’t believe that this game released in 2015! I’d been putting off playing this for quite some time. Not because I’d heard it was bad. In fact, most reviews had given it high praise. It’s the same reason why I have to space out sandbox & open-world RPG’s. As we all know, the video game market was and is oversaturated with zombie games. It’s easy to quickly become burnt out. I’d recently completed both Dead Island games and this one looked all too familiar. I finally felt like giving it a shot, was it worth the wait?
Dying Light is an open world first person survival horror action-adventure video game developed by Techland and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The game revolves around an undercover agent named Kyle Crane who is sent to infiltrate a quarantine zone in a city called Harran. It features an enemy-infested, open-world city with a dynamic day and night cycle. The day-night cycle changes the game drastically, as enemies become more aggressive and more difficult to deal with during night time. The gameplay is focused on weapons-based combat and parkour.
Also, it features a multiplayer mode and a four-player, co-operative mode.
Dying Light might just be one of the best zombie games that I’ve ever played. You’re likely thinking that I’m crazy but hear me out. It manages to do what so many other similar games have failed to and that is to make zombies a genuine threat.
From the start you’re given the option of exploring the entire environment. It doesn’t hold your hand in that regard. There are the obvious tutorials but that’s about it. You’ll be given a few crummy weapons and it’s up to you where you go from there. If you’re anything like me you’ll look for a couple of flesh eaters to whack. They aren’t particularly hard to come by in Harran. As soon as you’ve taken your first couple of swings you’ll realise you’ve made a huge mistake. Your useless club will likely break and you’ll come to realise that you’re completely surrounded.
In the early hours, zombies were best avoided. It wasn’t a pleasant experience to find myself back against a wall as they poured in. It was extremely refreshing to feel dread during each encounter.
The living dead have become so watered down. Dying Light gave them back some much needed credibility.
As you progress through the game and upgrade abilities, the tables will begin to turn. Soon, the soulless creatures that you once feared will be torn down with relative ease. Still, even after completing the story and upgrading almost everything it was still a challenge. Even when I’d crafted something seemingly devastating, death was always a possibility. Guns are easy enough to come by late in the game but they can be more of a hindrance. They’re super effective against human enemies and yet annoyingly effective at calling a horde of undead to your position. Stealth & headshots with a bow and arrow is my recommendation for the early hours.
If zombies in the daytime sound tough, zombies at night can be hell.
The overall controls of the game can be a little bit clunky though. Melee combat is fun but frequently clumsy as a whole. The free running/parkour mechanics in the game often suffer a similar fate. Still, by the end you’ll be leaping from building to building with ease. It’s seriously fun; the grappling hook was an awesome addition.
I enjoyed the story in the game even if it was extremely predictable with few if any twists along the way. Crane is fairly generic protagonist but he fits the role nicely and has a couple of funny pieces of dialogue. It’s a shame that there weren’t more risks taken with the narrative. There is a bunch of genuinely interesting characters introduced in the game but you never learn enough about them to truly care. Scenes that are supposed to be emotionally impactful are not complete failures but they fall frustratingly short.
In fact, most of the more memorable moments during missions come from the side stories. The main narrative just lacked something. Even the final battle is a ridiculous QTE. The main antagonist is comically generic but I enjoyed it still. Fetch quests can plague similar games and unfortunately Dying Light isn’t really any different. It’s a good thing traversing the beautiful environment is so fun! It would have been cool to be able to make choices throughout and craft my own story.
Finally, I really liked the soundtrack. It’s really subtle but in the right ways, it just has that creepy zombie apocalypse feel to it.
Dying Light is one of the most gratifying zombie experiences I’ve had in some time. It has a wonderful sense of scale and it’s unashamedly violent. It’s a shame that the clunky gameplay, poor menus and lacklustre story hold it back from being the perfect zombie experience.