Dying Light Review: Dropkicks In The Zombie Filled Night
Techland is the developer behind great games such as Call of Juarez and Dead Island. After stumbling through the sequel that was tragically Dead Island Riptide, many Dead Island fans were hesitant knowing that Dying Light was yet another zombie game yet another Dead Island game was on the horizon as well. Not knowing what to make of that, many of our fears were eased to a point as the spectacular gameplay footage both scared and excited us all for what was to come. Thankfully, the final result should not disappoint.
When it comes to zombie games, the most important thing is how the experience feels. Much like watching a Walking Dead episode, the zombie apocalypse has an extreme sense of desperation. It may be easy to battle and take down one zombie, but the real difficulty is doing so with a mob of zombies hearing and shuffling towards the noise they heard. Techland brings this out as early on in the game as you find yourself struggling to take on the slow mobs of zombies you initially encounter. While this eases up as you find and create better and stronger weapons, you can still find yourself on the wrong end of a mob if you’re not careful.
Thankfully, when you’re not careful, the game’s best feature is the freerunning. As a full fledged parkour runner, you can leap, climb, roll, and slide your way around and even through zombies. You’ll learn how to do each of those things faster and better as a light RPG aspect of the game allows for you to get better at everything (Survival, Combat, and Agility) learning new tricks as you go along.
To aid in this effort, you take on task after task handed down through the decent storyline that pulls you along from main quest to side quest objectives in the midst of this open world FPS. Okay, like most open world games, Dying Light doesn’t quite impress on the story front, but it does manage to pull the action along and make you find a reason to push the story along rather than remain with side quest hunting.
You’re also given the opportunity to work out ‘combat combos’ that provide an XP boost when the various zombies are thrust at you. Almost like taking down a host of Uruk in Shadows f Mordor, Dying Light gives you an arsenal of moves, weapons, and traps that will have you think of the most creative way to take down one or more of these decaying monsters from slow and crawling on the ground to fast and racing around after you. The wealth of zombie slaughtering tactics reminds me of the fun stealth and melee moves that are given to you in Far Cry 3 which made that game such an impressive experience. For this zombie hunter, the use of the hilariously fun drop kick was enough to warrant the full price payment. Squaring up, sprinting, and then launching a Barry Windham-styled NWA dropkick on zombies coupled with their enjoyable ragdoll physics, provides just the right enjoyment.
While you are having fun during the day playing with the host of zombies that slowly wander, the nighttime brings a new zombie variety that looks like something out of Blade 2. These nighthunters are fast and very difficult to take down and when you alert one, they scream and bring their friends. This dark terror intensifies the game (until you find the right formula to combat them) since running from them is hard and initially the only thing you have to slow them down is a UV flashlight that slows them down. There’s even a skill that allows you to glance over your shoulder and toss weapons to slow them down. With this visceral viewpoint that stabilizes your typically bouncing sprint, you really wonder how intense this game could be with a VR headset and a killer set of headphones.
Just when you thought the experience would get boring, jumping into a friend (or a stranger’s) game to assist in the dead destruction is just as enjoyable. Open world games with friends are ridiculously fun and this playground or parkour races and zombie kicking is a lot of fun whether it is to power through the story or just to see who can make the best zombie kills.
When that is no longer fun, there is a 4 versus 1 online mode called the hunter invasion that places one online combatant in the skin of a devastating hunter preying upon the other runners. The hunter has leap and spitting attacks as well as a grappling tongue that can quickly take down players. The players must utilize their weapons and UV lights to drain the hunter and take it down as they attempt to destroy hives located about the map. This mode is difficult on both sides of the fence until strategies are developed.
Still, this game is not without its own issues. Early on, attempting to get into a friend’s match on the Xbox One or the PS4 has proving to be difficult due to glitches. Techland promises to patch this.
Also, you’ll find the variety of regular zombie appearances is a bit bland until they get up close and grapple you. Until that point, the faces look almost standard-definition-blah and not very impressive. The control scheme of using shoulder buttons to jump and grapple and pull off some of the attacks can take a while to get use to as well. Considering the freerunning aspect of the game is crucial, those who can’t adapt to the odd control scheme may find themselves ignoring some attacks due to the number of button presses that just don’t feel comfortable. This includes the awkward default scheme for using guns as well since the left trigger can’t be used to ‘scope in’.
Fighting regular people in this game almost feels like fighting Jedi knights as well. Throwing weapons are deflected with ease by human enemies who manage to sidestep and attack you with alarming skill. While this adds a different difficulty to attacking them (which is good), you wonder why you are not allowed to learn how to block and deflect their attacks at some point early on. Regardless, these minor issues are not anything that takes away from the overall experience.
In the end, Dying Light is quite the experience for zombie lovers that players should not miss.