Lets kick off with a quick check list for this game, to give you a flavour of what to expect? Massive open world experience? Check. Most INTERACTIVE open world experience I have ever seen? Check. Next gen ONLY? Check. Upgradeable characters, weapons and abilities? Check. Filled with gory, and sometimes wildly unnecessary violence? Check. And of course, hordes of freaking ZOMBIES? Check and double check!
Oh yes boys and girls, we finally have a Zombie open world game that DOES live up to the hype. And lets be honest there has been a bucket load of hype attached to this title. Bucket loads of hype usually equals a suck filled game. But thankfully its not the case here. OK so I would not go as far as to say that the story line of this game is totally unique because its not. In fact it’s not a million miles away from the story line of Dead Island which is from the same makers. And its not the prettiest game out there, its no where near the standard of graphics that Killzone: Shadow Fall or BattleField 4 served up. But its more than passable, and of course great graphics does not mean a great game (what’s the matter, didn’t you ever play asteroids?). Due to this title being just so bloody vast it does take a while to really get going. This is due to the amount of training missions you have to go through at the beginning. But trust me, you will need those training missions, which is not a regular thing is it? (Halo, look up, look down… Wow really needed that one). You are going to die, a lot if you think you can go in all guns blazing into a horde of the undead. Your character will tire, weapons will break and you will become Zombie munchies. Not a nice way to go. Dying light forces you to play its game, to be tactful and mindful not only of your surroundings but of what you are carrying. Think Fallout 3 survival, sometimes its not worth smashing up your weapons on a group of deados. You will likely die, lose your weapons and it will generally ruin your weekend. What is unique about this Zombie title is the parkour aspect of the game play. Yes parkour has been done before, but not like this. When the adverts say you can go anywhere, you actually can go ANYWHERE. How often does that happen? We were introduced to climbing and to a lesser extent parkour in the assassins creed series but this takes it to a whole new level. If you don’t parkour through the city in Dying light, you die in dying light. Its really that simple. The better you get at this the more you will enjoy the game and be able to take advantage of all the hidden treasures in the city.
Once you have settled into the city of Harran, got a few training missions under your belt the city is your own personal play ground. You can play the way you want to, yes there are other ‘open world’ titles out there but very few like Dying Light which allow you to take your own path. Do you own thing how and when you want to. Choosing your own thing however, may take a while it’s tough to describe or at least do a good job of describing just how massive this city is. I haven’t tried to go from one side to the other, on account of there is so much stuff to do in between. But I will hazard a guess at ‘quite a while’. A friend said that its great to be able to look out of a high rise building in the game, and know that if you wanted you could go and visit exactly what you are looking at on the map. Yeah, not the most impressive game graphics and looking wise but very true to form. You see a little red house? You can go and visit the little red house should your heart desire.
Now, the Zombies. Usually a game or movie is filled with just the one flavour of undead. Slow shufflers, crawlers, insane screaming runners etc. But Dying light throws all the flavours into one giant game, for funsies. And we could not be happier with that. Yes during the day its mostly the stereotypical moan and shuffle zombie. But those crazy runners are around and get them in a group and they all want a piece of you, literally. And they don’t go down easy, not at all. Think you want to try out that shiny new wrench you have just picked up, think you are going to take the world on? Nope, it takes more than a quick swing to put them down. You knock em down they will just get right back up again unless you finish the job. But you can’t finish the job because the noise of you knocking the first one down has attracted his zombie mates and… You get the picture. You have to think about the long game of every situation. You can’t just think, it’s only one. I can take him. Yes you probably can take him, but I’m guess not the 25 of his friends around the corner. There are more variations of zombies still to come after dark. More on that in a bit. Looking wise, these guys are awesome. As we said earlier not the best of the best but they honestly don’t need to be. They move great, sound great and the A.I is freaking sweet. They go where the noise is, A.K.A where you are and they hunt in packs. So far, there has been nothing more satisfying then cutting a zombie down limb from limb. And they will still keep coming for you regardless. Now the zombie horde are not the only foes you will come up against in the city of Harran. As you would have more than likely guessed, rival gangs and leaders have emerged all over the shop. Most of which are not OK guys. The government send out supply drops all over the city and its first come first served. So you will be up against these rival gangs from time to time. Which all adds to the mixture of game play in Dying Light. Good thing about rival gangs is that they are usually a lot more organised that the deados, and armed. So, make them dead and you become armed! In true survival horror form, ammo is scarce so think before you shoot. Not only will your ammo run out fast, but firing a gun in Harran is like holding up a giant ‘eat me’ sign.
As you plow through the game, skill points will unlock. These points can be spent upgrading your Agility, Power and Survivor skills. All of these skills have their own tiers which are novice, adept & expert. So the longer and smarter you play the better you get. But of course the longer you play the more of a challenge your foes & missions become. This is awesome, keeps you nailed right to your seat. You can’t get bored of this one because the game is constantly evolving into something else. And even if you do get bored of doing mission after mission, go explore the city. Make and craft new items, speak to new people. This game is not only one of the biggest and true to form open world titles I have ever seen, but more importantly one of the most interactive. It’s one thing to be able to go anywhere, but another to be able to do stuff when you get there. The city is littered with side missions and other characters who need your help etc, its always worth lending a hand as they all carry a reward. It’s all about survival and that means you need to upgrade yourself and your arsenal. The more missions, side missions and rescues you under take the faster you will be able to upgrade and turn yourself from a weeny side plate for the undead to an ultra zombie killin’ badass! Players looking for that call of duty, run and gun experience need not apply. This is a survival horror with all the right ingredients in place. You need to be able to think ahead, work out you game play and above all be patient. That’s right up my street, this one will take a while to get through if you are doing it right. As with all awesome survival horrors, you need to be checking every little area, every room and every dead body for supplies. Because the ones you have wont last long. This game will always be a few steps ahead of you so you need to have your game face on right from the start.
As the name suggests, Dying Light is on a night and day system. If you thought it was tough to survive and get shit done during the day. Wait until you spend your first night outside of a safe zone. No where is safe, no where is secure. The night is when things get really interesting. It’s when the zombies you saw during the day all take angry pills and yet more variations of infected come out to play and these guys do not mess around. They are out looking for YOU and they have one thing on their minds, midnight snack! They are tough as they come, more unreasonable than the terminator and have about as much patience as a death row inmate who is on fire. In order for them to consume you more efficiently thier jaws separate at the chin (think Blade II), so they are not the best looking either. Really the best defense you will have is to run, run your ass off. Because even if you do manage to take one down, they are never alone. If you have to go out at night or are stuck outside of a safe zone, stay hidden and stay quiet. Even hiding on roof top wont help you like it will during the day they will see you and climb right up after you.
One thing is very clear early on though, this baby is very addictive and a total time thief. There are a few ways this game gets its hooks into you. First of all, it delivers exactly what you were expecting from the hype. Huge open world, interactive environments, zombies galore and a pretty unique game play style. Then there is the skills upgrade system, the more you play and the smarter you play the better you become in a relatively small amount of time. The weapon upgrade system, its one thing to pick up that axe, knife, baseball bat etc. But quite another to be able to not only repair and upgrade how hard it hits, but to also add electric components to it! Giving who ever you decide to smash around the head that extra shocking feeling. In short the campaign ticks all the right boxes, there are really no disappointments at all. This has been the first game in a long time that I have allowed to eat into my sleep time and that’s a big deal for me.
But it gets better still. One major flaw in any game with a really strong campaign is the online multiplayer. Dead Space 2, Dead Island, Red Dead Redemption… All suffered from a shocking experience online. Issues with joining friends, being thrown out of games or just not being fun at all. Dying Light does not suffer from this at all. Up to four player drop in drop out co op play. They really have thought of everything here. First of all, the multiplayer actually works! No messing around trying to join, no not being able to hear each other or any of that other infuriating crap. It works, and works really well. Next, its co op play on the actual campaign! Again another big deal, no separate campaign built just for multiplayer like we had on Resistance 2 for example (man that sucked) but the actual campaign. The campaign will pick up depending on who is the party leader, which makes perfect sense. And if you go past your own previous save point, that’s where you will play from the next time you play on your own. So you wont have to replay missions you have played already with your friends online. Thats makes a huge difference to me and I’m sure for plenty of other people too. Playing Dying Light online is an awesome way to show off your new talents or weapons or to even steal some good ideas from your mates. It’s never ending awesome with this title.
Dying Light is the first game in a while which actually brings to the table what it promised it would. Fully interactive game play, true open world experience plus a zombie game which you will actually want to keep playing! Get your hands on this title, you will not regret it!