No matter what they say, Techland’s Dying Light is the true successor to their previous franchise of similar style – Dead Island. Despite Yager Development taking the ropes of Dead Island 2, Dying Light feels like a true accomplishment that derives the best (and worst) of Dead Island into a whole new level.
The city of Harran has been overrun by the infected and it’s up to you Kyle Crane to seek out and obtain precious stolen documents for your contractor. Obviously things don’t go to plan and Kyle must learn to adapt and survive in the city. What’s improved with Dying Light is the more in depth focus on storyline than Techland’s previous outings. Kyle is the protagonist but that doesn’t necessarily make him the good guy; what are those documents and who is your contractor. The lack of background information on yourself and others makes it quite hard to distinguish the outcome and thus makes the game rather engaging.
The introduction of parkour makes Dying Light all about avoiding situations and combat. Very similar to Mirrors Edge, Dying Light’s mechanic is all about momentum and speed. The world is pretty much a playground for parkour as there’s perfectly placed ramps, awning and walls to run amok in. There’s still ground gameplay but this is where the game slows down to the same level as Dead Island. You’ll still get combat fatigue as you attack and weapons will deteriorate as you use them. Daytime combat is easier, as you can see where the enemies and undead are slow but at night – this is where the game truly shines.
Safehouses are located across the map for capturing but if you find yourself outside the walls of one at night, you’re in deep trouble. At night, Dying Light takes an unexpected twist as you, the hunter during the day becomes the hunted at night. The undead somehow become faster and lethal at night capable of scaling walls just like yourself. Visibility is low and you’re guaranteed a run for your life in the dark. Night time gameplay is frightening yet fun and will truly test your parkour skills as they chase you through the streets and rooftops of Harran.
Zombies won’t be the only thing you’ll be fighting in Dying Light as the living can pose a threat as well. Everyone is after air supply drops and armed men often guard these drops with heavy weapons such as guns. Armed with nothing more than a blunt knife, creativity comes into play here as you can use the undead to help your odds against them. Often I’ve found myself throwing some firecrackers at their position to lure the undead and distract them. Using my blunt knife, I get a few stabs into their back without them noticing. The fight for survival will turn us all into monsters. You could walk away but don’t you want all that sweet loot?
Dying Light has quite the amount of character progression and inventory to go through. Obtaining skill points allows players to upgrade their character’s abilities. There’s three sets of skill trees to work on: Survivor, Agility and Power. Depending on your play style with Dying Light, you’ll most likely focus on key areas of the skill trees. I prefer my character to be more agile in terms of speed and parkour abilities and with the Agility skill tree, you can work on giving him new moves like the sliding maneuver. If you find yourself more a player that uses traps, then you have the ability to create one with the survivor rank and the power tree allows for better weapon handling and striking.
The loot system is quite similar to Dead Island where you’ll be crafting objects from the materials you scavenge. You can also trade them in for cash which can be used to buy better weapons straight up. Guns are quite rare in Dying Light and even if you do come across one, ammo is limited and they attract way too much attention so give me a spiked table leg any day.
Dying Light also offers some incredible scenery and views. At times, I’ve stopped all of a sudden frozen on a rooftop just staring at the view. The city was highly detailed and offers quite a variety of environments from thick urban streets to hills and valleys plus the tropical seaside which reminded me of Dead Island. The engine though still needs some minor work as reviewing on the PC version had some unexplained freezing. Transitions from gameplay to cinematics almost looked like the game was about to crash. Lowering the settings didn’t help so it’s probably something in-game that will hopefully get patched.
To me, Dying Light felt like the next evolution from Dead Island. There’s similarities and it’s unavoidable coming from the same team. Techland has taken their formula of zombie head bashing and mixed in a few new things like the parkour system and night time combat. Story has improved but the narrative still felt very B-grade and hopefully Techland can come full circle in the next (possible) instalment. If you always wanted a Dead Island that worked, Dying Light is the best thing to come from it.
Compared to its predecessors, Techland’s Dying Light is an improvement to the genre presenting some great new ideas but is still plagued with boring missions and un-interesting characters.