Due to the fact that we have received a review copy for Dying Light only this afternoon, our review will not be ready for tomorrow, but rather early next week. However, after a few hours of playing, I have decided to fire off a few quick impressions that should give you an idea about what to expect in the first chunk of the game.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee: In Dying Light, you’ll be doing a lot of running. Zigzagging down the road through zombies, jumping from car to car, and prancing across building tops. Thankfully, the parkour is smooth and satisfying, making all of this a lot of fun, especially when you get over the fact that jump is mapped to one of the trigger buttons and not X or A. In one instant as night was approaching I needed to get to my safe house. I was jumping from one ledge to another, but fell into a horde of the undead. Thinking on my feet, I jumped onto a car, catapulted onto the side of a building, scaled up the wall, and made a leap of faith into my safe area right before the night started…. So what if the night started you might think. Well…
Are you afraid of the dark? You should be: A lot of open world games feature a day/night cycle, but Dying Light is one of the only ones that plays on it to dramatically change the game. You see, during the day killing a zombie is easy, almost too easy. The combat at first feels a bit clunky as you mindlessly swing away at the infected, but once the sun sets, Volatiles come out of the woodwork and everything changes. What’s a Volatile you ask? Basically a mutated zombie that runs really fast and can kill you quickly. They’re also pretty damn scary looking. Once darkness sets in and you’re out in the open these things come from everywhere. You’re best bet is to run.
Would you really call me a noob in an apocalypse?: In Dying Light, you’re name is Kyle Crane and you are working for an organization making sure that the virus that has hit the fictional city of Harran, won’t spread. So far, the story is interesting as you see the character you play make decisions (I haven’t made any, I’m not sure I will) that are actually pretty gut wrenching, that’s all I’ll say about that. Crane is played by voice actor Roger Craig Smith, the man behind Ezio Auditore in the Assassin’s Creed games. So far, Smith has nailed the character of Crane, which is good because the other voice acting is pretty terrible. You’ll find a melting pot of accents in Dying Light that sound pretty cheesy, and some of the writing is borderline cringe worthy. One of the main characters spent the first hour of the game calling me a “noob.” It’s the zombie apocalypse kid, sort it out.
I’ll take one Knife with a side of electrocution please: If you’ve played either of the Dead Island games, you’ll notice a few similarities when picking up the controller in Dying Light. Crafting is an example of this. As you scour through houses you’ll pick up things like blades, duck tape, alcohol, etc. which can go towards modifying weapons and crafting things like medicine kits, firecrackers, or my personal favorite, exploding throwing stars. Thankfully unlike Dead Island, you can craft and repair on the fly. Unfortunately so far weapons degrade at such an ungodly fast rate that it can become a nuisance, meaning you won’t be able to use your electrocuting kitchen knife for very long.
You want that perk? Go take a lap: Dying Light brings three distinct perk trees: Survivor, Agility, and Power, each of them has over 20 abilities apiece. The Agility tree for example is ranked up as you run around Harran jumping across rooftops and scaling buildings. As you move further in the tree, you can unlock perks like leapfrogging over zombies or tackling them mid-sprint. The Power tree meanwhile is unlocked as you slice up the undead while your Survivor rank is leveled up as you complete story missions and side quests. So far the system has really hooked me in. Because I’m doing more parkour than killing, my Agility tree is more fleshed out than my Power tree, which may make for some possible replay value down the line.
At about four hours into the story I can already tell that Techland has done a good job at creating a new world rife with exploration and zombie slayin’. The combat is a bit clumsy, and I’m still getting used to using R1 to jump instead of X, but I’m having a blast playing. Here’s to hoping the game holds up for the next four hours and beyond.