A long standing debate for myself and the zombie apocalypse is whether or not you'd prefer to have a lot the slow, plodding versions of the earliest iterations of zombie or a few of the fast, vicious and maniacal versions that have become so popular as of late. Dying Light, the newest zombie bashing gore-fest from developers Techland, allows you to experience a world where both of these options collide.
For those who are familiar with Techland's previous work with Dead Island, Dying Light is going to seem all sorts of familiar. The first person view is brought back as is the essential scavenging aspects of the game as you collect scraps from basically anywhere to help you craft items such as med-kits and flares to aid you through the game. You can also upgrade your weapons, increasing damage or durability or adding some electricity or a blowtorch to aid in your rampant killing.
What's new to Dying Light is the parkour movement system that is a core part of the game. The zombies, for the most part, cannot jump or climb, so free running is used as the best means of navigating the treacherous city. This all feeds into how you upgrade your character; a three tiered system that awards you points in Agility, Power and Survivor categories. Agility is awarded for performing parkour, Power by using your weapons and Survivor points are given for completing missions or acquiring regularly appearing airdrops. The main benefit of this system being that, while you may not be racking in the Survivor points and leveling up there, simply running around the city and attacking zombies at random can get you a slew of points that allow you to level up agility and power.
The skill trees are in-depth and the unlockable skills are quite helpful as you go through the game. Increased health, allowing you to fall greater distances, better shop prices, higher damage inflicted, new items to craft, etc. all help you as you move through Harran and survive the onslaught of zombies and violent humans.
The visuals for Dying Light are also quite spectacular. Whether it's in the grimiest of slums or the pristine looking harbour, Techland made sure to render each environment quite well. It looks good enough to give me vertigo and the sweats when I was forced to traverse an antenna tower which left me hundreds of feet in the air. As well, with the parkour elements being so integral to the gameplay the controls needed to be excellent. The button configuration took a little bit to get used to, but the controls themselves were very responsive and fluid which made clamouring around the city a great deal of fun.
Overall though, Dying Light ends up being a solid play. Whether it's free running run one side of a map to the other, traversing great heights or simply making a zombies head explode with a baseball bat, Light offers you plenty of diversity to keep the game interesting. The other modes in the game also offer some worthwhile play time, though doing so with someone other than your friends isn't as engaging. And while it does suffer from recycled story and characters as well as some inconsistencies in the gameplay, there's enough that works in the game to help you overlook what isn't.
Happy zombie hunting and as they say at every sundown, 'Good Night and Good Luck'.
To read Doug's extend review of Dying Light, pick up the Feb issue of CGMagazine.