Published by: Warner Bros. Interactive
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Available On: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
In a world where we have Dead Island, DayZ, and Resident Evil, do we really need another zombie game? According to Techland, developer of Dying Light, the answer is a firm yes –but only if developers can bring enough new features to the table to make it worth doing. Techland is banking on the idea that players always have more room for some human-on-zombie carnage as long as the mechanics are rewarding and the world is interesting. Taking a known formula and giving it a few tweaks not only keeps the genre fresh but ensures players always feel surprised and satisfied.
Dying Light was originally intended to be a Dead Island sequel. After investing some development time and experiencing frustrations with publisher Deep Silver, Techland opted to spin the game off into its own little thing. The main reason? Dying Light has too many new features and too interesting a hitch to be considered just another zombie sequel. This is a game that deserves its own launch, its own hype, and its own brand. Dying Light takes the most common tropes in the zombie survival genre and either abandons or upends them, creating a unique world in which players feel a true sense of fear and actions have consequences.
The primary hook in Dying Light is its use of night and day cycles. During the day time, zombies are shambling morons without much to do. Players are free to roam the world of Harran, gathering supplies and exploring however they see fit. At night, however, zombies become lethal threats that can climb walls, sprint, and kill players in a matter of seconds. Avoiding these “volatiles” becomes the primary concern of each evening, as a direct confrontation with one usually does not end well. The focus of Dying Light, then, is on strategy and safety over conflict.
Movement plays a huge part in Dying Light’s gameplay. Like the anti-heroes of Assassin’s Creed, the player character in Dying Light is capable of parkour-like acrobatics. Players will need to climb buildings, leap from rooftop to rooftop, and make ample use of zip lines to outrun the zombie hordes. If you want to keep breathing until sunrise, you’ll have to stay on the move. A deep weapons system provides you some recourse should you get pinned down, but Dying Light is not about killing zombies so much as it is about running from them. This is survival first, combat last.
Dying Light won’t be for everyone. Players who are used to slaying their way through hundreds of zombies, chainsaw in hand, may not enjoy Dying Light’s focus on frailty. But for those looking for a realistic, open-world take on the zombie game, Dying Light might just fit the bill. The unique movement mechanics, compelling day/night function, and wide range of enemy types ensure that players will be on the run for some time to come.