It’s zombie horror meets circus acrobats with Techland’s apocalyptic video game Dying Light. You play as Kyle Crane, who is sent to infiltrate a group of survivors in Harran to recover a stolen file. The problem? The city is crawling with herds of zombies at every turn. During the day, it’s easy sailing as you scavenge for supplies. It’s a different story when the sun goes down. Bring your backpacks and an extra pair of underwear! Let’s see how the game shakes out!
Blue Ball Score: 17.5 out of 25 balls
The main focus of this game for survival involves the popular urban activity known as parkour. If you haven’t heard of parkour, check out any of the thousands of videos on YouTube for a crash course. Imagine letting a monkey loose in the city and watching it jump and swing across rooftops, and you’re standing in sheer amazement as it scales the outside of buildings with ease. Now imagine that monkey is a person and most of the citizens are flesh craving zombies. You’ve just imagined the chaos that is Dying Light.
Personally, I found the parkour elements to be somewhat cumbersome and clunky. Ledges that you can grapple on one building are somehow not an option on the other building, even if they appear exactly the same. How does that work? Oh yeah, it doesn’t… This can prove deadly (and intensely frustrating) when you are in the midst of a horde of hungry zombies that are foaming at the mouth for your flesh. If you are not looking DIRECTLY at the object you are attempting to grapple, you will fail miserably and can often put you in quite a pickle. Running from rooftop to rooftop, climbing buildings, and stringing together a successful chain of parkour moves is extremely satisfying. I found it to be very entertaining and enjoyable… until I missed that one crucial jump.
Combat in the game also seemed clunky and I found it to be particularly difficult. Perhaps that is what the game developers intended, since avoiding combat can be a very successful strategy for survival. However, when the game forced you into combat, I found myself dying frequently especially early on in the campaign. You are limited to melee weapons and kicks for most of the game. Guns are unlocked later and ammo is often very hard to keep in supply. There is a wide variety of melee weapons at your disposal to keep you armed and ready, but they definitely won’t make you invincible by any means.
My favorite element to gameplay was the day-to-night transitions and dynamic weather. Zombies are extremely slow and easily avoidable during the day. You can run through a herd of zombies without being touched as long as you don’t stop moving. However, the zombies transform into your worst nightmares after sunset. Their aggression levels go off the chart. They can now run, chase, jump, climb, and turn into Red Bull fueled Chinese acrobats ready to rip your face off. You will be begging for a bed to rest until sunrise. Good luck!
Parkour and the day/night transitions added amazing gameplay elements to earn 4 balls for gameplay.
During the campaign, you will go out on missions for whoever you are working for at the time, missions to capture supply drops, and to help survivors in various ways. You will also need to scavenge supplies scattered throughout the city in buildings and chests. These materials are used for crafting, where you can craft tools, upgrade weapons, and healing items. This can seem very tedious at times, but it’s up to you in regards to how much time to devote on this aspect. Other items can be used to sell for money so that you can purchase new items/weapons.
Your character will earn XP in two different categories. The first is called “Power” and uses XP earned from combat. The second is called “Agility” and uses XP earned from all of your parkour moves. During the night, you will earn double XP since the danger factor is through the roof. Each is leveled up independently, meaning you can be Level 3 Power and Level 5 Agility. You earn skill points by leveling up which can be used to upgrade your character through the category’s respective skill tree. Unlocking new abilities is your key to survival, so don’t be shy when spending them.
A solid campaign and progression system earn Dying Light 4 balls.
The other version is a called “Be The Zombie”. This game mode allows a player to join another player’s game in an “invasion”. The invasion will force any activity to be stopped while the invasion is taking place. Human players must destroy nests that are marked on the map, while avoiding imminent death from the player-controlled Night Hunter. The Night Hunter has super speed and super strength, and will beat you down without mercy. Be afraid, be very afraid. The human players have a limited number of respawns while the Night Hunter has unlimited respawns. The goal is to destroy the nests before the Night Hunter destroys you. Good luck!
While the Night Hunter and multiplayer aspects add an extra layer to the game, it all revolves around having good teamwork. Bad teammates will destroy any chance you have at survival. This aspect pushes me more towards going solo, so multiplayer earns 3 balls.
Dying Light sound effects and soundtrack were fairly average. Typical moaning and groaning by the zombies with average voice-acting for the characters. At night, the sound seems to come alive a little more as the zombies intensify. This is probably due to you forcing your ears to be more alert, as the darkness brings terror around every corner. I found myself fully relaxed in the day and on the edge of my seat at night. Luckily, the night is short lived if you attempt to survive it.
Average graphics and sound earn a mediocre 3.5 balls.
In conclusion, Dying Light gives players a challenging experience and a thrilling night mode. A solid campaign with the option for multiplayer and zombie play provide multiple ways to enjoy the game. Overall, I feel like Dying Light took a difficult concept and made a respectable game in the end. The game is not without flaws and had plenty of potential. Zombie fans may or may not like the parkour elements at the core, and leaves Dying Light with a final score of 17.5 balls.