Erik Fattrosso ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Coming from Techland, the developers behind Dead Island, we get Dying Light. Advertising itself as a mix of Dead Island’s melee-focused zombie survival and Mirror’s Edge’s parkour, the result is a surprisingly fluid and well-made game.
At the start you’re dropped into the city of Harran, the location of a zombie outbreak that has since been quarantined. You play as Kyle Crane, an undercover agent working for a shady government organization trying to recover some sort of missing file that can cause worldwide destruction. The story isn’t particularly new or exciting, but it gets the job done, and has enough interesting twists and turns to keep you engaged throughout the game’s run time. That time can easily be upwards of 30 hours should you decide to take the time to do the game’s numerous sidequests. While many of them are simple fetch quests, they all feel worth completing thanks to the assortment of interesting characters that assign them to you, and the surprisingly developed objectives. A quest to turn the lights back on in a part of the city quickly becomes much more when you’re told to do it at night in order to fry a bunch of zombies, and nighttime is when the game is at its finest.
The game runs on a day/night cycle that’ll pass whenever you’re playing. During the day, you lead across rooftops to accomplish whatever your current goal may be and you have the option to fight zombies or just run right past them. An excellent upgrade system makes you feel like you’re really growing, as you go from barely being able to take down a single enemy without running out of stamina to leaping over the head of one into a dropkick on another as you progress. The zombies do actually pose a threat though, as even late into the game you can still easily be overpowered by a hoard that you mistakenly stumbled into. Once the sun sets though, you get to experience a whole different game. Experience is doubled at night, but that’s also when the deadly Volatiles come out. These fearsome creatures show up on your minimap so you can avoid them, and you should take every effort to do so. Being seen results in a frantic chase for your life through the streets. This is where the parkour shines, and leaping across buildings with your flashlight being all you can see is exhilarating. The ability to look behind you while you’re running also makes these chases even tenser, as 9 times out of 10 the enemies are way closer to you than you think. Fighting human enemies isn’t anywhere near as polished as fighting zombies though, and every time it happens you’ll once again wish for the threat of the undead. Guns aren’t present much, but similar to human enemies, you’ll want to wash your hands of them once you see how sloppy they feel.
Running around the city during the day or night is fun all the same though. There are always a large number of things for you to do at any one time and the world is beautiful to look at, complete with a great original score. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t occasional bugs though. Dialogue has a bad habit of cutting out entirely, and parkour animations can get a bit funky in tighter spaces. Hitting a zombie square in the face with a shovel feels great, but loses something when the impact sound fails to play. Zombies feel dangerous when they come after you in herds, but they become much less of a threat when they start clipping through the scenery and get stuck in a space that they shouldn’t be able to physically occupy. Small things like this pull you out of the otherwise immersive world.
All in all, Dying Light is a solid game that’s definitely worth the price of admission if the concept sounds like something you’d enjoy. It doesn’t take long to realize that any pre-release concerns were for the most part untrue, and this can be a great experience so long as you can tolerate the occasional bug.
Final Score: 8/10