When I first heard of Dying Light, I originally brushed it off as just another horror survival game; a genre that has not treated me too kindly over the years. I am not talking about the quality of the games, it really just comes down to the fact that these games immerse me the most and then scare me while doing so. After seeing Dying Light gameplay videos on YouTube; I knew that I wanted to play this game on my PlayStation 4. So what Techland, the creators behind Dead Island, come up with this time?
The story of Dying Light takes place in the city Harran, a fictional city based off of Turkey. With rundown buildings, rubble, scattered debris, burning automobiles, and blood-soaked streets ridden with flesh eating Zombies, the work is all cut out for the protagonist Kyle Crane. The story is seen though the eyes Crane, an operative, who is sent to in find Kadir “Rais” Sulaiman, a rogue agent who possesses a file that could jeopardize the perceived integrity of the agency. Crane starts the mission off on the wrong foot by getting his parachute caught on a building and being discovered and beaten by enemies. During that time
he gets bitten by a Zombie and is saved by a group of survivors. But Crane is infected and he must take medicine to prevent himself from turning. While Crane wants to help these people, he soon realizes that the agency will stop at nothing to keep the file from getting out, even if it means sacrificing the lives of others and forcing Crane to make decisions that are clearly against his morals. While the story isn’t earth shattering, it is still really interesting and I found myself wanting to find out what would happen next. The side missions also have some really interesting and surprisingly deep story lines to them, which gives the game life outside of the main objective, making the game world more organic and not artificially crammed with random missions. It made seeing exclamation points on the map exciting because the side stories are told so well.
Dying Light is a rare example of a horror survival game where the primary focus is on the gameplay rather than the atmosphere. This was one thing that really drew me to this game. Now in other reviews I prefer to separate gameplay and controls into separate categories. That would be extremely difficult in this case because this game is built around its controls. In many horror survival games, the controls are extremely limited and clunky, but in this game you pretty much have free reign over how fast or slow you move. This game contains parkour, similar to Mirror’s Edge, meaning that you are pretty much running,
jumping, sliding, dropkicking, climbing, and landing during the entire game. In order for this to work, the controls need to be perfect or close to perfect. Techland delivered. I cannot say that I have ever played a game on a console that that played this fluently in terms of the gameplay mechanics and controls, I feel like everything is natural and works exactly as it should. The controls alone make the game worth playing, because it just feels right. Now branching into gameplay, the game is simply a blast. Pretty much everything that looks climbable is, so climbing up buildings and then leaping off them to another one is a great experience. Running through the streets, hurdling obstructions, sliding under walls, and dropkicking a zombie at full speed, make even the journey to the objective fun and exciting. Exploring too much can get you into trouble but finding loot, side quests, and securing safe new safe zones is a fun distraction. Combat in the beginning of the game feels a little clunky, because the Zombies are very tough to kill and weapons you start off with are pretty weak. The weapons break often but are very simple to repair. Combat is handled by throwing weapons, impact weapons, and guns. Melee weapons will be the primary weapon. Using Melee weapons does use stamina, so being strategic early on is key. But the game changes up a lot later on, there is a skill tree system along with a crafting system that both give the player more abilities and toys to play with, to help them become stronger. Eventually the player will be able to craft elemental throwing starts and super charged-up weapons that shred through Zombies. One thing you will notice about Dying Light is how the game is constantly changing. It goes from an open world parkour playground with little threat if you are careful, to a hardcore, adrenaline-pumping, horror survival game when the sun sets, to an action game with satisfying executions and gory dismantling of Zombies. Usually when games try to do too much, they spread themselves way to thin but Dying Light doesn’t suffer from this, it somehow manages to excel and do multiple things very well. That isn’t an easy thing to do and it makes this game a truly unique experience. If all of that isn’t enough, you can also play 4 player Coop with your friends and if you preordered the game you play as a zombie and invade other games at night. There is so much to offer in the gameplay department that I can see myself playing this game for a long time.
When it comes to visuals Dying Light sets itself apart from the rest of the pack. Horror survival usually means dim environments with dull textures and a dark color pallet. Dying Light takes a different approach; the game looks beautiful. It is arguably one of the best looking games on the PS4, the lighting, the shadows, and the trees blowing in the wind all create this diversified world that is foreign to the genre. It makes the game feel fresh and lifelike. When the sun goes down and the nightmares come out, the games atmosphere transforms into something similar to a traditional horror survival game and it is immersive and terrifying. I have to commend Techland for taking this approach because I feel like Dying Light has the potential to open doors for gamers to get into horror survival genre, while also giving the existing fans something unique and fun to play and enjoy.
Overall Dying Light is a fantastic game. While the story isn’t amazing, it is more than adequate and it keeps you interested; ultimately it does its job. But the game shines because of its gameplay and that is really the heart and soul of this game. It is polished, complete, and it is a blast to play. As it stands right now, Dying Light is my favorite game on the PS4. I highly recommend this game even if horror survival scares you as badly as it does for me. This is a great game, and if you are looking for something to play, look no further. You won’t be disappointed with this one.