Written by: Corey Bonanno, Special to CC2K
Good night. Good luck.
Night is almost here. The nearest safe house, only a few blocks away. The hammer in hand is cracked at the handle, brittle. Can’t do much good against the dozens of zombies that reach their hungry hands toward my perch upon a derelict emergency vehicle. At least these ones can’t climb. The slums are too far behind me to turn back to the safety of rooftops. A field of the undead lies between me and safety. The volatiles can and will find me. Night is almost here.
The fictional city of Harran has been exposed to a virus that mutates and reanimates the dead. A global relief organization known as the GRE has been supplying the isolated city with supply drops and a virus suppressant known as Antizin. The organization has learned that a shadow figure in Harran has documents on an incomplete version of a cure that, if distributed, would kill most of the remaining survivors. The GRE sends in their own operative, Kyle Crane, to retrieve the documents at all costs. Of course, it isn’t all as it seems.
As Crane, you learn of the events and struggles that take place in Harran after the outbreak. Digging into the lives of the survivors, Dying Light creates a very human cast of supporting characters with real problems and real hopes. This doesn’t save it from following generic zombie story tropes that seem to result only in fetch-quests and escort missions. It isn’t too much of a problem, because in Dying Light, gameplay is king and traversal is a breeze. Tech land already had a great zombie combat system in place from their previous title, Dead Island, but with the addition of the parkour mechanics, the world is your zombie playground.
The Parkour feels fluid and is much more intuitive than expected. It is easy to make your way across the rooftops of the two maps with relative ease. There are of course those frustrating moments that comes with all these open-world free running games, but overall the experience is exceptional. This allows for one of three different leveling systems to advance you and unlock new skill sets along the way. With the Agility skill set, each and every object you climb, dodge, and maneuver through builds experience. This is the same for the Power skill set, which advances through by creatively and decisively removing the heads of all the zombies you encounter.
Dying Light has successfully brought fear back to the Zombie game. Not since the Resident Evil games of old has there been this much tension and danger when faced with the slow shambling masses. The simplest of enemies–the biter–is daunting even in groups of just three. Once you master taking down the shamblers, something far worse takes their place. With Dying Light’s day and night cycle, it is as if they have created two entirely different zombie games in one. Roleplaying game mechanics allow for interesting and powerful character progression. Eventually the day becomes more of a playground, while the night still seems terrifying and difficult. The idea behind doubling your experience by venturing out at night is enticing, but more likely than not, choosing to avoid the night is best.
The combat feels visceral and satisfyingly gross. Early in the game, the undead are overwhelming, and the use of parkour really shows that fighting isn’t the best answer. Sometimes it is smarter to run. As the game progresses, so do the skills and attacks on hand. Separating a zombie’s torso from its waist never gets old. Delivering a drop kick to a zombie on a rooftop and sending them hurtling to the ground below is a fan favorite. Brilliant. Even with all the new abilities, Dying Light has revitalized an important and almost lost sense of fear for the zombie archetype.
Making my way through infested apartment complexes in the dark, not knowing what lies behind the next door, really put my hair on end. I love horror, and horror is abound in Dying Light. The sound design is rich with dread, the screams and haunting wails of those that recently turned is disconcerting to say the least. And it’s not just the atmosphere that sets you on edge. This game provides a decent challenge even to Zompocalypse veterans. You will die, and you die a lot.
If it all proves too much, and you need a little help taking on the masses, there is a cooperative mode. This allows up to four players to enter the host’s game and help them work through any mission and quest lines the host has available. I teamed up with CC2K’s own Adam Korenman the other night. What was to be a quick jaunt into the belly of the beast turned into almost three hours of one of the best experiences I’ve had in a cooperative open world environment in years. Taking pop shots at zombie’s while another player bashes and slashes through dozens of the dead is so satisfying. The servers need a bit of a boost as it seems to be difficult to find matches that are available or not already filled up by the time you try to matchmake in. Find a friend and smash some skulls, you won’t regret it.
WARNING: Game Spoilers and Adult Language
WARNING: Game Spoilers and Adult Language
Dying Light may be an extremely similar successor to the Dead Island series, but it offers such an amazingly realized world with a story that exceeds expectations. There are dozens of hours of fun and experimentation to be had finding new ways to take advantage of your environments and the zombies. The game is beautiful and the day/night cycle allows for interesting scenarios around every corner. Dying Light has put a fresh coat of paint on the well worn zombie genre.
8.0 / 10