Dying Light Review – Parkour Fun with Zombies

We all love zombies, well it seems that way with the number of video games that are jumping on the bandwagon in recent years. From Nazi Zombies in the Call of Duty and Sniper Elite franchises toUndead Nightmare in Red Dead Redemption, our love for those undead, flesh-eating corpses knows no bounds! Dying Light, which initially released in 2015, brings parkour into the mix as the protagonist tries his best to contain a deadly infection surging through the city of Harran.

The Plot

You play as Kyle Crane, an undercover operative who is dropped into the quarantined city by the GRE to retrieve some rather important information. You begin the story as an outsider, understandingly, but as you progress and help locals with their problems you start to grow a rapport. Plot points are in the form of main missions and side activities which can be completed in any order you feel necessary as you accept them. The missions and activities range from the mundane to the highly rewarding and memorable.

Gameplay and Game Mechanics

The main story missions and side activities, including kills, give XP. Points are spread across three main categories: overall Survivor Rank, Agility Level, and Power Level. Survivor Rank should be seen as your overall level, once progress enough this will then expand to the Legend Level for additional unlocks. Agility Level is raised by traversing the environment as you play and being successful at it. Power Level is raised by anything relating to combat.

An example of the Dying Light skill tree

Each of these categories has their own tree split it to the novice, adept and expert skills. These must all be unlocked before you can spend a point on them. Points are gained by filling the corresponding bar for each level (Agility, Power, etc). The skills you unlock here can affect how the game plays mechanically and how you would like to play the game yourself. If you are a face-to-face fighter skills such as Windmill or Stomp will be your best friend, but if you like to take a more stealthy approach then Takedown or Vault will help your cause.

Kung-Fu Fighting

To fight your enemies you are given a selection of weapons from baseball bats to hammers and machetes to shotguns. Each weapon has unique stats from the start: damage, durability, and handling. Needless to say that the higher the stats the more powerful the weapon will be. Weapons can also be upgraded and stats increased with special one-time use upgrades that can be given as a reward from missions or as general pick-ups. From fire to electricity – you can really make those zombies squirm (and those pesky bandit humans)! There is only one issue with the weapon system – repairs. Unlike Dead Island, you only have a limited amount of repairs per weapon. Once you’ve used up your repairs you should toss the weapon to the side – you’re not going to be able to use it again.

Cutting a zombies head of in Dying Light

Blueprints are your source for creating everything in this world. From weapons to utilities – picking up seemingly useless garbage will help you in the long run. Blueprints can also be found in the game world and purchased from some traders – there are some special blueprints which you can find but it will take some effort on your part. Google it!

A Large Open-World, Oh My!

Harran is split into two large open-world areas: Slums and Old Town. To traverse each of these areas you must run, jump and (eventually) grapple hook your way around. The Slums is a traditional lived in area which contains housing, small shops, and a few large tower blocks. Old Town is built-up area contain large malls, blocks of flats, and visitor attractions such as a museum. Apart from the undead and the occasional still warm human, these areas aren’t usually packed with much hustle and bustle. It should also be mentioned that these areas become lethal during the night hours with Volatiles prowling all areas and these guys don’t mess around – once you’ve been spotted you’re going to have to run a marathon to lose them.

Online Co-Op

Gameplay wise Dying Light is far from being a drag it’s actually quite fun. Bouncing from location to location during the later stages of the game can take its toll, especially when you’ve got far to travel, but unlocking the grappling hook early on will make your blues disappear. Having the option to play co-op with up to 3 other people (all the same character I should add) really brings out the fun elements of the game. Killing zombies are always more amusing with a bunch of friends!

A character model sinking through the floor in Dying Light

Audio and Visual

Dying Light is a beautiful game and it should be, you spend most of your time outdoors rather than being cooped up in buildings. The night and day cycle really bring this game to life. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t come without its small problems. There are some texture issues from time to time and I have seen a fair few zombies and humans glitch into walls, move in and out of fencing and drop completely or partially through the floors they are standing on.

During the 30+ hours in Harran and the extra DLC content, I found myself having audio issues. Most prevalent was in menus with outside audio cutting in and out. Second to this were speech and video being out of sync when starting and ending some missions. Graphically the game was stable with only a few instances of frame rate drop but this only happened when playing in co-op.

Dying Light
If you've been craving for some slaying action since the days of Dead Island I've got some good news - Dying Light might just be for you! Packed full of great content, Dying Light is almost perfect in its execution. There is not much wrong with the gameplay but some other elements let it down ever so slightly.
Things I Liked
Seamless cooperative gameplay - drop in and drop out
Intriguing plot with a variety of characters and missions
Day and night cycle greatly improved the overall feel of the game
Things I Didn't Like
Some audio and graphical issues - especially with characters clipping through areas they shouldn't
The weapon repair mechanics can make things frustrating

What are your thoughts?

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