[Game Review] Dying Light

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Dying Light is Techland’s new take for the Zombie Survival Genre. Is it a lot better than Dead Island? Did Dying Light suffer the same mistakes of Dead Island?

Video Review

Introduction

Dying Light was developed by Techland and was published by Warner Bros Interactive on January 27, 2015. You may be wondering why not Deep Silver? They were the ones that published Dead Island. Well, something went wrong with the relationship between the two companies regarding how Dead Island was supposed to be but it was never met. This is because Dead Island became hack-and-slash instead of a survival zombie game that Techland wanted it to be in the first place.

But is Dying Light the game Techland ultimately wanted? Is it a true survival zombie video game experience?

Story

[Game Review] Dying Light Story
You're the chosen one....yet again!

You play as Kyle Crane, a GRE operative, and he is sent to retrieve a stolen file from Kadir Suleiman A.K.A Rais, the main antagonist of the game. At the start of the game, GRE tells him about the mission and such, but upon descending to the zombie-infested city, he is suddenly attacked by Rais’ thugs. Crane, who is being oblivious to how a zombie apocalypse works, shoots a gun to kill one of Rais’ men, but at a cost of getting bitten himself. Luckily, he gets help from runners, Amir and Jade. Amir sacrificed himself for Jade and Crane to survive.

This is how the game starts. You are bound to help the survivors on the tower and other players by doing quests while dealing with Rais to retrieve a stolen file. There are also 2 doctors finding a cure for the infestation and they have a huge part in the game, even if it’s not seen directly.

Dying Light has this Far Cry 3 feeling for its story; a try-hard protagonist stuck with a crazy antagonist. Kyle Crane is very similar to the protagonist of Far Cry 3, Jason Brody. He is not a native of Harran, the setting of Dying Light, yet the more time he spends in it, the powerful his desire to stay. Although I must say Kyle Crane is a much better person as he actually tries to stop the government from killing all the survivors of Harran.

The same can also be said to Rais, the main antagonist of Dying Light. He acts like Vaas from Far Cry 3, spouting some philosophical crazy quotes and whatnot. This just proves how the two games’ stories are very similar to each other.

Supporting characters are acceptable like Jade, Brecken, Dr. Zere, Harim and much more. However, they are nothing special. They also feel so generic in a way because they act so stereotypical, but they are way better than Dead Island’s supporting characters.

Quests can be engaging, for the most part, as there are a variety of missions to do in just one quest. They are really fun and exciting to do. However, others like the typical escort or bring me quests are just boring and uninteresting to do, and it feels like a drag, sometimes. The rewards on the quests are mostly fulfilling though, so it is fine to do the most boring quests.

Dying Light may take up to 15 hours to 20 hours just to finish the main storyline, and with the inclusion of side quests, it may take up to 45 hours. It is a huge feat for Dying Light since there are several games right now that struggle to even achieve 20 hours of gameplay.

Sadly, Dying Light’s weakness is its story, as previously stated, the flow of the story is like Far Cry 3, and that is not very original at all. Yes, it is decent but it could be much better. Again, we had failed to see a very good and original story in a zombie game for a long time.

Graphics

[Game Review] Dying Light Graphics
It is so huge!

Dying Light has an amazing graphics. Character models look good, the environment is gorgeous, and the world is really dynamic. The game feels so alive from the start to finish. This is truly a great feat from Techland to have a gorgeous setting filled with zombies.

The addition of day and night cycle also gives a dynamic feeling in the game, waiting for sunrise without getting killed is absolutely worth it. The overall aesthetics of Dying Light are just too good and impressive. It has been a long time that we have seen such beautiful open world in a game.

Even on medium settings, the game is still beautiful. Speaking of graphics settings, that’s the bad part of the game. At launch, the game was badly optimized especially with the AMD GPU. However, as time passed, the fps was slowly fixed. Currently, it is much more stable now, but AMD is still struggling compared to NVIDIA. Graphics card discrimination has to stop.

Animations in Dying Light are also fluent and tight, the transition from one movement to another is remarkable and not clunky, at all. There are no awkward animations… well, maybe there are some, but they are not really noticeable.

Gameplay

[Game Review] Dying Light Gameplay
Multiplayer is a lot of fun!

Dying Light is your typical zombie game by Techland. If you have played Dead Island, then you probably know the ropes on how to play this game. The melee combat is solid, you can really feel the feedback when you are hitting a zombie and it really is satisfying. However, at the start of the game, you feel helpless gathering stuff and melee weapons. It takes time to kill the zombies in the first few hours of the game, and it is actually quite creepy because they can sneak out on you.

There are several types of zombies on Dying Light. Most of these zombies are just rehashed from Dead Island. Although, there are some good additions as well. There are two zombies that you have to look out for especially at the start of the game. First is viral, they are basically humans that recently turned into zombies and they still have the physique, as they can run and climb buildings. They also have a remaining subconscious since they will tell you to stay away from them. They are being consumed slowly into becoming biters. They are driven by noise so shooting a gun would bring several of them in your spot really quick, so that is the consequence of shooting a gun in Dying Light.

The other zombie that you have to look out for is the Volatiles. They are the super Saiyan of zombies, and they are a lot faster than virals and a lot stronger than them. However, they can only show up at night and they hate UV lights so you can still manage to escape them by going to traps and activating them. Basically, if you see them, just run and avoid fighting them as they can call other volatiles in the area and destroy you.

Playing at night-time gives this terrifying feeling, but it makes up for the harder difficulty by earning more XP during the night. Props to Techland for giving us something new and unique in this genre. Speaking of XP, there are three skill sets that need to be filled in this game; Survivor, Agility, and Power. The good thing about this is that you get XP for these skills separately so you are not scarce of upgrade points.

Aside from zombies, you are also going to encounter some bandits that you can kill and then loot for some decent items. You may also save some survivors along the way from a zombie attack. The amazing part in this game is that bandits are also being targeted by zombies, so you may see some amazing battles against the two AIs of the game.

A unique aspect of its gameplay is the parkour, you can basically run and jump everywhere. It really blends in perfectly in a zombie game. It really adds uniqueness throughout the journey of Harran, you will never get bored running and jumping over scaffoldings. Plus, it will be your preference since the ground is full of zombies, anyway.

Sadly, Techland had insisted that Dying Light is a survival game, but it is actually not. Well, for the first few hours of playing Dying Light, it feels like a survival game. However, as you unlock more skills and become more powerful, it loses that flavor more and more, especially if you can pick up hundreds of items everywhere.

The co-op multiplayer of the game is solid and one of the most stable multiplayer I have ever played. No one lags out even if you are from far away countries and the fun are quadrupled when playing with others. The community is really helpful and not toxic, so you will never get stressed throughout your time with others.

Another multiplayer game mode is Be The Zombie, you will hunt humans at night as they try to destroy your nests. You are like Spiderman as you can swing from buildings to buildings and you can one hit kill all of them. Just stay out of UV lights as they freak you out like the Volatiles. It looks like a neat game mode, right? It does if it works, as most of the time you will only be fighting 1 human, and they can easily get owned by you. Nonetheless, it is really a fun game mode of tagging.

Lastly, another problem that Dying Light has suffered is it copied a lot of gameplay mechanics from different games (Far Cry 3, Assassin’s Creed, Left 4 Dead, and Dead Island). It is acceptable to do that but Dying Light played it safe and did not really revolutionize those core gameplays.

Sound

[Game Review] Dying Light Sounds
Night night, scary night...

Pawel Blaszczak, composer of the music for The Witcher, Dead Island, and Call of Juarez, composed the music for Dying Light. It is particularly great and really sets the mood of sadness and eeriness in the game.

The ambiance of Dying Light is excellent, especially in night mode, it will scare the hell out of you when playing. The zombies can really be creepy at night, especially the Volatiles. When you hear them scream, you know you have to run as fast as you can.

The voice acting in Dying Light is okay. It really is nothing special. Although, it would have been better if more emotions are put into the dialogs of each character. Well, it is passable and there are some good moments when it can actually get emotional.

Replay Value

[Game Review] Dying Light Replay Value
Ruuuuun!

Beating the main story may take up to 20 hours to 30 hours, and that is actually already a lengthy storyline. By beating the whole game, it may just take around 40-45 hours. Honestly, it is a very good amount of playtime, especially since we mostly get games to have around 4 hours minimum and 9 hours maximum mostly on their campaign/story mode. Dying Light is an open-world game, and it greatly increases that playing time, since you cannot stop searching for more things in the game.

Unfortunately, after everything has been set and done, there is just nothing to be done in Dying Light anymore. On the other hand, you are free to help some new players on their game, since you would not probably want to replay the game all over again. The experience you will be having in Dying Light is really worthwhile.

Verdict

Dying Light can be arguably the best zombie game as of now. It has beautiful graphics, solid gameplay, and transition of animations is top notch and fluent. The only problems this game has suffered are the lack of originality of its story and the lack of developing of the core gameplays. The story is indeed decent, but it has a striking resemblance to Far Cry 3’s story. The same thing can be said with the gameplay as Dying Light borrowed several aspects from different games and did not innovate it at all. The optimization on PC is also horrendous at launch, especially for AMD graphics cards. Good thing, most of the optimization concerns are fixed now, but it should not have happened in the first place.

Am I going to recommend this game? Well, definitely! The game is still being updated by the developers after 2 years and it is still fun to go back and play some more.

Good

  • Solid Gameplay
  • Gorgeous and Dynamic World
  • Several Variations of Zombies
  • Multiplayer is superb and stable
  • Parkour!
  • Long Campaign
  • Ambiance is simply Amazing

Bad

  • Story is cliche and not original
  • Ending is total crap
  • Post-game felt empty
  • Not really a survival game
  • Horrible optimization at launch (fixed)
  • Characters feel bland
8.4

Great

Story - 7.2
Graphics - 8.9
Gameplay - 9.1
Sound - 8.8
Replay Value - 7.8
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