Grizzly Gaming

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dying Light offers a visceral and fun first-person zombie apocalypse

In the last decade, zombies have pervaded nearly every aspect of our pop culture. There are still movies and TV shows being made about zombies (“The Walking Dead” on AMC remains one of the highest rated shows on TV, for instance) and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of this trend slowing down any time soon.

In 2011, developer Techland released a game called “Dead Island” where you took on the role of a tourist stuck on a tropical island that had been overrun by a deadly plague which turned everyone into zombies. The game was comprised on several large maps but the emphasis wasn’t so much on exploration as it was on completing generic missions while bashing every zombie in sight in the head with some sort of blunt instrument.

Dead Island was fun at first but over time the fun wore off as technical glitches became more apparent and the repetitive nature of the game began to wear thin. Because of these reasons, I was hesitant to try out Techland’s latest title, “Dying Light.” However, Dying Light is everything that we wanted Dead Island to be – and then some.

Dying Light is a first-person, action/adventure game set in a giant open world environment with roleplaying elements. Combat is still very melee-focused, though firearms do exist, but unlike Dead Island, Dying Light incorporates free-running and parkour as a way to navigate the large, highly-detailed environments and after playing Dying Light, I found that running away is often the best strategy for survival.

I don’t want to consistently compare Dying Light to Dead Island throughout this review but I find myself doing it quite often as I try to formulate my thoughts on the game. I think this is because at its core, Dead Island and Dying Light are very similar. But where Dead Island presented many interesting ideas, it didn’t capitalize on them – whereas Dying Light feels like a much more complete game. One could say that Dying Light is the game we all thought Dead Island would be.

Zombies will overwhelm you quickly in Dying Light and staying mobile is often a better choice than fighting

In Dying Light, you play as Kyle Crane, an operative of the GRE (Global Relief Effort) who has been covertly inserted into the city of Harran where a massive viral outbreak has infected a majority of its citizens and been quarantined from the outside world. As Crane, you’re tasked with retrieving a secret document from a rogue agent but along the way, you befriend a group of survivors and it isn’t long before you realize that the goals of the GRE and the goals of the survivors are often at odds.

There is one main story quest that carries you throughout the game but as you complete story missions, you’ll unlock several side missions which offer extra XP toward your three skill trees and also money, item upgrades and blueprints.

The three skill trees affect different areas of the gameplay – survivor, agility and power. The survivor tree affects things like how much damage Crane can take, kinds of items he can create and more. Agility allows Crane to become better at free-running over the environment and gives him new abilities (the best of which is the grappling hook). And the power tree will unlock new offensive moves for Crane both with weapons and while unarmed.

Unlike many other games with RPG elements, if you die in Dying Light, you lose your earned XP, putting extra importance on careful play and weighing options of fighting and running very heavily. Where Dead Island focused more on combat, Dying Light does an exceptional job of balancing combat and running for your life. In Dying Light, you’re vulnerable to being overwhelmed quickly and fighting every zombie you see is rarely the smartest decision.

Though free-running over the environment is often better than standing and fighting, you will have to battle the undead every now and then. It’s difficult to find quality weapons early in the game but these weapons can be improved with blueprints and upgrades. Utilizing the crafting materials scattered throughout the world. Blueprints help improve durability, damage and handling and these stats can be further upgraded with one-time use items that are often awarded for helping survivors in random events or for completing quests.

As in most zombie apocalypse fiction, humans are often more of a threat than zombies in Dying Light
Dying Light has a very highly detailed sheen to the visuals with an impressive use of light and shadow and also incorporates a day/night cycle with a unique twist. Nights in Dying Light are extremely dark and even with a flashlight it’s hard to see the zombies around you. But at night, a special type of zombie comes out – the volatile. During the day, the typical shambling zombies clog the streets, with scattered variants (like zombies which are more aggressive, exploding zombies and ones that spit toxic slime) but at night, the volatiles come out of hiding. Extremely sensitive to ultraviolet light, volatiles are highly aggressive and strong and just as quick as Crane. Sneaking slowly to avoid their attention or sleeping through the night at safe houses are your best bets against volatiles. It’s possible to kill them but standing and fighting with them in the dead of night will get you killed very quickly.

If taking on the various beasts is too much for you to do solo, you can play through the entire game cooperatively with up to three other players. While playing with others, you can take on challenges or create challenges between your friends to add even more replayability. Also, there is a manner of competitive play where you take on the role of a super powered zombie which invades the games of others and hunt the human players. Granted, I haven’t played this mode yet it seems very cool and is an interesting twist on the standard game.

While I was hesitant at first to give Dying Light a chance, I’m glad I did. The balance of running and fighting in an open-world zombies apocalypse is perfect and being able to play the entire game with friends makes it even better. Plus, there is a harder difficulty which increases the zombies’ durability as well as putting limitations on healing, flashlight life, making night last longer and other challenging.

If you’re like me and were nervous about giving Dying Light a chance because Dead Island didn’t live up to expectations I can guarantee that Dying Light is everything you wanted from Techland’s first offering and more - and it’s even better with friends.

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Blogger JordanDorkin said...

Playing Zombie Hunt is real fun of life. I enjoy it very much as I am a fun loving person, I like your post.,

September 17, 2015 at 5:20 AM  

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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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