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Dying Light Review

Zombie games for a while now have started to lose their luster. What once scared us when we were alone and cornered could be dealt with a blow to the head with confiance (thank you Walking Dead). While some games tried to shift the focus on interacting with other survivors in the wilderness, it still didn’t feel realistic, to me at least. Then came the first Dead Island by Techland and published by Deep Sliver. Instead of being a part of a super secret black ops organization, you play as one of four people who came to the island of Banoi, a resort city, to start again and earn some cash. Exploration of the island was encouraged but the more remote the area was, the denser the zombie population was. Scavenging junk to craft weapons was the main aspect of the game and players loved it. However the game had a ton of flaws that kept it from being a great game on par with past Resident Evil games.

 

Techland wanted to go bigger and have a much more mature tone than what Dead Island had. But due to creative differences, Techland left Deep Silver and the Dead Island franchise to create the vision that they truly had for Dead Island.They teamed up with WB Interactive to create their true vision: Dying Light. Can Dying Light fix the flaws that Dead Island had or is Dying Light the walking corpse of Dead Island walking once again?

 

Welcome to Zombie City

 

What a view- When Techland revealed that they were going to abandon development of Dying Light for the PS3 and Xbox 360 and instead focus on improving on the PS4, XBox One and PC versions of the game and push the release date of the game back, plenty of gamers were disappointed. When developers say they need more time to polish the game a week before release, usually that does not bode well for the game. However in this case, the extra time and additional sources added to (in the case of this review) the PS4 version of Dying Light, was put to good use. The city of Harran has a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern vibe to it. From the poor and derelict Slums to the high rises of Old Town, the city looks amazing, on ground level that is. Try climbing to the top of some of the city’s highest spots. The view is just amazing. At least when you can see during the day

 

Dynamic day/night/weather- One of the new additions that Techland added in to Dying Light that was left out in Dead Island was a dynamic day and night cycle and dynamic weather, Sure the sky did get progressively darker as you furthered the story in Dead Island, however in Dying Light time passes along not waiting for the next main missions. One whole day cycle is about an hour, with about day lasting about 53 minutes and night lasting 7 minutes. Now 7 minutes might not sound that long of a time, but imagine this: you just got finished picking something up that was across the map and now you have to travel back to base, and night starting to set. No big right? Then you start hearing noises starting to get closer and then in a flash zombies started to get more aggressive and are able to climb after you. Now you are running for your life trying to remember where is the closest safe house with a pack of a new type of zoble chasing right after you. Let’s not forget the dynamic weather. So to recap, pack of new zombies, its dark due the city not having power and its raining hard. Those seven minutes can feel much much longer and do.

 

Ton to do and explore- To say that Dying Light has a ton of things to do is an understatement. In addition to the main missions there are several side missions that test your skills and bravery. Some missions are simple fetch quests, others require you to make deliveries, take over certain areas, ect. My favorite ones are the missions that take place at night. These night missions range from racing one side of the map to the other, collecting items, repairing object and even collection samples from zombies. With the added DLC that has been announced players trip to Haran will be greatly extended.

 

Improved crafting- Crafting has been improved, although it also has been tamed downed and made more practical. For example one of my favorite weapons back in Dead Island was any type of sharp weapon on fire, like a literal flaming sword. In Dying Light there is a similar sword however it has a more practical build instead of just a sword constantly on fire.  Now you have a small torch/lighter attached to the sword. It heats up the sharpened part of sword and had a chance to set the zombie on fire. Some weapons even have ability to equip items that gives them different stat bonus such as faster strikes or stronger strikes.

 

Parkour city- Every single part of the city is climbable in some type of form  or another. Parkour is the main way to travel the city as sometimes its dangerous to be on the ground. At first you are a complete parkour noob as speed and momentum are the keys to mastering parkour. As you level up you’ll be able to do more advance moves such as the vault jump over enemies, wall jumps, tuck n’ roll, and many more skills. Even evades, tackles and flying drop kicks will become available. You will need all of these skills if you want to reach the high parts of the city. The parkour in Dying Light is a bit more reformed than it was in Dead Island, where in Dead Island all you could do was vault over cars. In Dying Light, thanks to its vertically. you can leap across roof tops, scramble up pipes and tumble across the city to avoid the zombies. There is a tiny annoyance I had with the parkour system though. In order to guarantee to grab on to the ledge you have to be looking at the ledge precisely of you will miss it and land on the ground with a hard crunch. Later on in the game you obtain a grappling hook that let’s you take your parkour skills to new heights.

 

 

Be the zombie mode- In addition to the four player co-op mode, Dying Light also has a mode called “Be the Zombie” this mode give players a chance to become a zombie Night Hunter and hunt down humans. As long as players have an open lobby you are able to invade other player’s game and hunt them down at night. In order to escape your clutches, they will have to destroy Night Hunter  nests. This make for some really tense moments because now instead of an AI zombie you are dealing with real 4 human players. Its’s a pretty straight forward mode but very fun none the less.

 

 

Still a pile of roting flesh

 

Overly aggressive AI- I understand that it’s zombies nature to be aggressive and depending the kind of zombie even more aggressive, but there are areas of the map that the zombie AI tends to be overaggressive. In my playthrough of the game, some zombies, mostly Virals, would force their way into safe zones just to get at me. Now I understand that the Virals are suppose to be aggressive since they are runners who have just turned and still have all of their agility and strength intact, but they some how to manage to force climb their way over fences and attack me. The same thing happens with human enemies.While this is an annoyance, I could see the developers taking this and tweaking it up to have as proper random event where safe houses get overrunned and players have to retake them.

 

Glitch fest- When Dead Island first came out, it had its fair share of glitches, but these glitches would have you stuck in a corner, zombies running into a wall despite you standing right next to it. With the new verticality of Dying Light, new glitches have appeared. One of them has to do with climbing to several high points in the city. Now if you fall off at a high distance, its an automatic insta-death. However if manage to hit a few of the posts while falling down you somehow get pulled all the way down through the map and continue to fall till die. Also if you happen to fall from a high distance into water, there will be times that you will also fall through the map but will somehow be underwater at the same time. Sometimes I’ll even find zombies that have no business being this high up, delicately balancing on a beam right before they fall off as they tried to smash me. At the time of this writing of the review, Techland has released several patches to fix these glitches and are fixed for the most part. But I do get the occasional fall through the world and random zombie in a high area that its not suppose to be.

 

 

Poor handling of pre order DLC and Season Pass- While I’m not against having post launch DLC, I do have a problem with shop exclusive DLC. If a store wants to offer me a limited edition poster, comic or some other trinket that’s fine. However do not offer DLC as a pre-order incentive when it will come out later as a part of a season pass. Various stores (both online and physical) offered exclusive DLC for those who pre-ordered the game. Then Techland announced the details of their season pass which had the exact same DLC being offered at store. Why bother pre-ordering the game and getting a DLC code for some content that is going to be already offered? I blame the stores more than I do the developers, but developers take note: this is why most gamers do not pre order your game if you offer exclusive DLC and then repackage it in a season pass. If you want us to pre-order your game, give us something tangible.

 

Lame main character- In Dying Light you play as GRE agent Kyle Crane sent into Haran in order to investigate and extract a rogue political figure during what seems to be an outbreak of zombies. As he makes his way into Haran he had to keep his real identity and mission a secret. He tough yet has a soft side when he see people in need of help. But for some reason he kind of reminds me of former STARS and BASS operative Chris Redfield from Resident Evil 5 and 6.It doesn’t help that Redfield and Crane share the same voice actor, Roger Craig Smith. It’s a shame really since Smith did a real great job bringing to life Ezio Auditore da Firenze from Assassin’s Creed 2 and a younger Batman/Bruce Wayne in Batman Arkham Origins/Batman Arkham Origins: Blackgate.

 

Dying Light is has everything that they wanted to put into Dead Island but couldn’t. Better crafting, dynamic weather and day/night cycles, a beautiful yet desolate city to running around in and tons of activities to do in the day time or the night if you are feeling brave enough. However there are flaws oozing out of its flesh. From the random glitches and the overly aggressive AI to the poor handling of the DLC and a very lame character cause the game to trip on itself. But Dying Light manages to pull out its grappling hook and pull itself out of an oncoming zombie attack to keep running and gamers playing for a while till the next big zombie game comes shambling along.

 

7.0/10

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