Dying Light, from the developers of Dead Island, is yet another zombie-ridden survival horror game which pits you against the undead as you fight to find the truth behind the recent infection that has plagued one unfortunate part of the world. Thing is, unlike Dead Island and it’s sequel Dying Light isn’t all that bad. In fact, I’d say it’s what Dead Island should have been from the beginning.
You play as Kyle Crane, an undercover operative sent to infiltrate the quarantine zone in the fictional city of Harran. After being dropped into the city, things go south quickly and you’re thrown into a world where survival is the name of the game. The story, thus far, is gripping and doesn’t feel too repetitive, thankfully. Missions, despite having different difficulty levels, aren’t too hard to complete in one piece and they all compliment the story in some form.
The menus, combat system and upgrade tree all should have been implemented in Dead Island, they feel superior to most other games. The menus are smooth and easy to navigate, the combat system doesn’t feel clunky and the upgrade tree provides useful character enhancements that you look forward to leveling as you play. I just wish the developers left out the stamina bar and more than annoying weapon degradation.
The parkour style gameplay is a bonus, traveling around the vast city over rooftops is a major bonus and gives the game a slight advantage over other similar games in the genre. Escaping from the horde is easy using the parkour mechanic, but problems do arise if you manage to take a wrong turn or miss that all important leap. Levelling up occurs on a regular basis, with three skills trees available to upgrade from the start. Beating the undead, jumping and running over obstacles will give you XP, so there’s never a shortage of points being collected. During the night XP is doubled due to the amount of effort you have to exhort to survive.
AI zombies, whilst not as intelligent as I’d like them to be, have a good range of sight and respond quickly to any loud noises such as explosions and traps. It’s during the night that you need to be on higher alert, with zombies mutating and becoming stronger. Special zombie types appear often across the map, which in itself is quite large, and these prove to be generally easy to take down if you know the correct tactics.
Dying Light also has co-operative modes, though I’ve only managed to play the story so far with another avid zombie killer. The game features drop-in and drop-out gameplay, meaning you can continue kicking ass without having to wait for hosts to switch or loading screens to disappear. The only disappointment regarding the co-operative play is the fact that Techland has decided to stick with one character, Kyle, for each of the four players. Other modes include Be The Zombie.
I’m holding off reviewing this game in its entirety due to the fact that the PC version of the game doesn’t play well on most AMD hardware. The game freezes often during cutscenes, audio skips and frame rates drop below 30 – 25 once you exit into the outside environments. Reducing the field of view below 20% helps, but it isn’t something we should be doing. Techland has noted that the game hasn’t been optimised for AMD users, so until the issue is fixed I’m going to hold back.