Dying Light
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 9

It might not score very highly when it comes to originality, but the sheer amount of fun to be had in Dying Light cannot be beaten. Traversing the city using your parkour skills is a lot of fun and the open world setting as well as first person view makes for an immersive experience. This is the type of game where it is easy to spend hours just goofing around and thanks to its day/night cycle there is rarely a dull moment. If you want to dispatch zombies in spectacularly gory fashion using crazy crafted weapons and parkour skills you won’t want to miss out on Dying Light.

Gameplay: Highly entertaining and very addictive.

Graphics: Impressive visuals and draw distance.

Sound: The music, sound effects and voice acting are all very well done

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Dying Light

Developer: Techland | Publisher: Techland | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Action / RPG | Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

Haran was supposed to be just another job for GRE operative Kyle Crane. Granted, parachuting into a Middle Eastern city that is overrun with the undead is not an everyday occurrence, but his main concern was retrieving some very important documents. Unfortunately, Kyle has barely set foot in the city before things go horribly wrong and he ends up beaten, bitten and infected. Luckily for Kyle the city still has a few people left that are not zombies or murderous thugs and, after being saved by some friendlies, he sets out to complete his mission.

Yes, Dying Light is yet another zombie themed title, but one that proves you can still have a lot of fun even with an over-used setting. Split into two huge areas, the slums and Old Town, Haran is a city that was on the cusp of some huge athletic event before the dead started walking the streets. This means that there are no shortage of biters to get between you and your objectives. “Ordinary” zombies come in all shapes and sizes, from the usual shamblers to huge ones wielding concrete encrusted rebars as weapons. There are also ones that will spit acid at you and ones that won’t hesitate to detonate in a shower of gore if they are in your general vicinity. These zombies provide some decent variety as you traverse the city and, initially at least, can even overwhelm you if you get a little too cocky with your abilities and try to take on too many of them. However, they are not the only things to fear in the streets of Haran.

Make a little too much noise during your excursions and you run the risk of alerting “viral” zombies to your presence. These things retained a lot more of their humanity than the decaying corpses shuffling around everywhere and will not only chase you down at high speed, but will also jump and climb onto anything to get to you. They are formidable foes and early in the game you will learn to fear their manic shrieks as they bear down on you at full speed. Equally dangerous are the hostile humans you encounter, either henchman working for a power mad overlord or survivors turned thugs. Although not as fast as the Virals, they are usually better armed and some even pack guns. Your most formidable foes however are the “Volatiles” which only come out to hunt at night when the sun has gone down. Due to their speed and voracity, not to mention the fact that you will mostly encounter them in near darkness, your best chance for survival when dealing with Volatiles is running, and praying.

Dying Light is played completely from a first person perspective and while parkour style gameplay can initially feel a little disorienting it soon becomes second nature. For an elite operative Kyle is a little wimpy at first, but as you run, fight and quest your way around Haran he slowly becomes more capable. Abilities are divided into “Agility,” “Power” and “Survivor” each with their own skill tree and unlocks. For example, running, jumping and climbing will earn “Agility” points and leveling up grants access to skills such as health regen, dropkicks, vaulting and even a grappling hook. Killing zombies on the other hand grants “Power” points with abilities such as melee throws, ground pounds, stun kills and sturdiness. “Survivor” points are earned through quests, challenges and helping out other survivors. Its skill tree provides access to abilities such as shield crafting, traps, boosters and camouflage. Getting killed will actually cost you survival points though, so it pays to be careful while exploring Haran and, initially at least, heading for the nearest safe house when the sun sets.

Although at first you will be stuck with feeble weapons, such as pipes and planks with which to beat back the undead, when you start getting your hands on katanas, swords and sickles the fun really begins. Even better, you can learn to craft upgrades for your weapons, so that sword can be made even more imposing by adding some flames and electrified barbed wire to it! In addition to using blueprints for weapon crafting Crane can also learn to craft explosives, throwable items and other necessities using scavenged items. Everything from exploding throwing stars, freezing grenades and Molotov cocktails to medkits and shields can be crafted if you have the right parts. The strings, alcohol, electronics and other crafting items needed can be found throughout Haran or bought from traders using money pilfered from the undead. The zombies all appear to be walking around with coffee and cigarettes in their pockets as well which is useful for trading. Overall I really enjoyed the crafting aspect of the game and the fact that weapons can break meant I always had a couple of backup options ready in my backpack.

Visually Dying Light is a great looking game with an impressive draw distance and a wonderfully detailed gameworld, provided your hardware can handle it. Thanks to the sheer number of undead you encounter you unsurprisingly end up seeing the same character models repeated a lot, but seeing an entire bridge or tunnel filled to capacity with zombies is still an impressive sight. Tossing in a Molotov cocktail and watching them all flail about burning is even better. Dying Light doesn’t shy away from blood and gore, which is exactly what you want from a good zombie game. Enemies can be dismembered using the sharper weapons and will often still pursue you even with their arms lobbed off and blood spraying everywhere. There are also plenty of environmental hazards on which you can impale zombies, set them on fire or electrocute them. The game even take things a step further by briefly showing an x-ray overlay of the zombies bodies as you break their bones. Dropkicking zombies from the roofs of buildings became one of my favorite activities in the game, and this activity is so much fun that I would often go out of my way when on a mission to send a few biters flailing to their doom below. While on a routine mission a plane might also fly overhead and drop a supply crate, prompting a mad dash to reach it before one of the unsavory folks in the city do.

In addition to the day and night cycle Dying Light also features dynamic weather conditions. Thanks to the incredible draw distance the couple of instances where I had to scale vertigo inducing towers were made even more nerve wracking. It could also be the fact that everything is viewed in first person that made these climbs so nail-biting, but I can honestly say that Dying Light is one of the first and only games where I have ever experienced vertigo this acutely. From a technical standpoint, I didn’t encounter too many issues, apart from a severe drop in frame-rate when hit by the projectiles from the spitter zombie types. In more than 40 hours of playtime I have only encountered one crash, although users with AMD hardware have reported some performance issues.

Although the plot is a little predictable and packs plenty of clichés it rarely detracts from the fun. There are tons of side missions to tackle when you need a break from the main storyline, and while most of these are simply fetch quests I had so much fun just traversing the city and killing zombies that I never got tired of them. Crane quickly turns into everybody’s errant boy, but who is going to say no to finding insulin for a sick child or investigating an apartment to see why a young boy is so traumatized. The parkour style movement, which becomes even more fun when you unlock the grappling hook skill, along with the visceral melee fights kept the game from becoming too repetitive. The way that night time requires a different playing style, but rewards you with more survivor points if you can stay alive also kept things fresh. I found myself quietly sneaking around while using my “survivor sense” ability and mini-map to keep track of volatiles during the night. One wrong move though, and it can end in a frantic pursuit where you have to use tricks, traps and quick reflexes to avoid becoming a Volatile snack.

When it came to the audio Dying Light also impressed me. The soundtrack is very fitting, but never became distracting, which is important for an open world game such as this where you can spend hours just goofing around. The sound effects are very good and the noises coming from your enemies are downright chilling at times. While most of the zombies aren’t exactly “scary” I have to admit that they did surprise me a couple of times in the dark and I also fell off roofs a few times thanks to Virals getting in my face unexpectedly while exploring. The voice acting is generally quite good and Roger Craig Smith, known for his portrayals of Ezio from Assassin’s Creed and Chris Redfield from Resident Evil, managed a convincing lead. The way that Crane complaints about being an errand boy, but does it anyway is quite funny as well as comments such as “One day I will land on a bag of rusty knives I just know it” when jumping into the trash from great heights had me laughing out loud.

When it comes to the multi-player side of things Dying Light allows you to play in co-op mode with up to three other players or invade other people’s games as a zombie. Both of these are quite fun, but I definitely spent more time playing the single player mode. Overall I have very little to complain about in this game. The whole “too exhausted to use grapple hook” gimmick for sections where the game wants you to climb on your own is a bit silly and I’m not fond of the checkpoint only save system. The story could also have been a bit less bland, but I still had plenty of fun in and out of missions.

Dying Light managed to hold my attention for more than 40 hours and were it not for the fact that this review was long overdue, I would probably still be playing it. Despite the fact that I have completed the main story as well as most of the side missions I still plan on returning to the game and doing everything else I can find. After all, there is still plenty of zombies standing around on rooftops that need to experience the thrill of flying.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows® 7 64-bit / Windows® 8 64-bit / Windows® 8.1 64-bit 
  • Processor: Intel® Core™ i5-2500 @3.3 GHz / AMD FX-8320 @3.5 GHz 
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM DDR3 
  • Hard Drive: 40 GB free space 
  • Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 560 / AMD Radeon™ HD 6870 (1GB VRAM) 
  • DirectX®: Version 11 
  • Sound: DirectX® compatible 
  • Additional Notes: Laptop versions of graphics cards may work but are NOT officially supported. Windows-compatible keyboard, mouse, optional controller (Xbox 360 Controller for Windows recommended)
  • OS: Windows® 7 64-bit / Windows® 8 64-bit / Windows® 8.1 64-bit 
  • Processor: Intel® Core™ i5-4670K @3.4 GHz / AMD FX-8350 @4.0 GHz 
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM DDR3 
  • Hard Drive: 40 GB free space 
  • Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 780 / AMD Radeon™ R9 290 (2GB VRAM) 
  • DirectX®: Version 11 
  • Sound: DirectX® compatible 
  • Additional Notes: Laptop versions of graphics cards may work but are NOT officially supported. Windows-compatible keyboard, mouse, optional controller (Xbox 360 Controller for Windows recommended)

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7 Comments

  1. roadkiller February 8, 2015
    Reply

    I love this game but the ending was a serious letdown.

    • Tramveg February 9, 2015
      Reply

      I actually liked the ending. Ok so the boss fight was a cop-out but I think they want to add more to the story through dlc maybe? Regardless I was happy how things turned out. My only hope for a sequel is that they include vehicles.

      • Skullyboomboom February 10, 2015
        Reply

        Vehicles would be nice I agree. I think a multi player mode where players have to shoot each other Battlefield style but in between all of the zombies and infected would also be boss. Just emagine all the mayhem. Maybe set traps to lure zombies to the enemy side or something like that.

  2. Rummer82 February 9, 2015
    Reply

    Getting this for sure

  3. RKRick February 9, 2015
    Reply

    REALLY want to play this 🙁

  4. Earthshake February 10, 2015
    Reply

    I haven’t played the Dead Island games yet so i don’t know if i will enjoy this.

  5. Phantasteek February 10, 2015
    Reply

    So basically assassins creed with zombies? I can dig that 😀

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