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Dying Light Review


  • Dying Light Review

    Dying Light, developed by Techland and released on 27 Jan 2015, is an open world zombie survival game with a heavy emphasis on parkour which, for those of you who are not sure, is basically jumping from one rooftop to another until you break something. Parkour is unusual for a zombie survival game but is incredibly useful in Dying Light. There are all kinds of goodies hidden on rooftops and the majority of zombies you're dealing with in the game are the traditional slow and mindless variety, not the modern Olympic sprinter types, so jumping on top of a van or a ledge is a great way to stay safe if you find yourself surrounded. It's also quite liberating to be able to climb up any building you want and watch 20 zombies frustratingly stare at you because they can't climb. Eventually you get a grappling hook which turns you in to Spiderman and takes all the fun and challenge out of climbing conundrums because you can just point at the location you want to go, press a button and WHOOSH! Off you go.

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    So on to the zombies. There are thousands of them. Look out on to any street and you'll see hundreds of zombies shuffling around. Fortunately there are many different ways to deal with them and some of them are a lot of fun. There are as many cars in the city as there are zombies and many of the cars have crashed and spilled fuel on the ground. You can ignite this fuel by throwing a firecracker at it and cure the zombies of their infection with fire. Unfortunately this also kills the person as well but it's a lot of fun to watch. There are spike traps set up all around the city too, all you need to do is lure a zombie (or 10) in front of one by using your tasty body as bait, then give them a good hard kick and watch them get impaled. Or you can kick them off a bridge and watch them splatter on the rocks below. Or lure them in to the many trap water puddles, where you flip a nearby switch and a power cable dangling in the water delivers an electric current which will cure the infected of their zombification. Unfortunately this also kills the person but it's a lot of fun to watch. Or you can beat them to death with a wrench. Be careful though because some of those zombies get really fast when you're in wrenching distance. They pounce on you and you're forced to tap F really fast to not die.

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    The crafting system is a lot of fun. You'll find crafting materials literally everywhere - in bins, in the boots of cars, in shops and houses and on the corpses of dead zombies. You also find money which you can use to buy crafting materials from various shops around the city in safe zones. You can use these materials to repair your weapons, craft medkits, molotov cocktails, firecrackers, flares, throwing stars and many other things I haven't found the blueprints for yet. You can also use these materials to upgrade your weapons with the power of the elements. A battery and some power cables can add an electric shock to your wrench, so you can bash a zombie skull in and electrocute him at the same time! Or if you'd prefer you could turn your tire iron in to a blow torch-skull cracker combo and burn them while you beat them. It's like being a battle mage! Using your weapons will wear them down however and you'll need to repair them constantly. Eventually after a weapon has been repaired too many times it becomes completely broken and is no longer useful, so don't think you're set for life just because you found an awesome weapon with awesome damage because using it too much will eventually break it. Apparently there are guns too. I keep finding ammunition for a shotgun in the back of police cars but I have yet to find a shotgun. Perhaps the game is just tricking me? Perhaps the shotgun is a lie.

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    As you play the game you will advance in 3 areas: Survival, Agility and Power. You get experience in survival by crafting things and using crafted things against enemies, you get experience in agility by climbing, jumping long distances and generally being agile and you get experience in power by caving in skulls. Eventually when you reach enough experience in one of these fields you get a skill point to spend in one of the three skill branches, allowing you to develop more creative ways to kill zombies, more ways to survive, more things to craft, more hit points and a stronger skull-caving-in arm. There are enough abilities to unlock in each branch to keep the gameplay fresh for a long time. I've played the game for 8 hours and have only unlocked around 3 out of 25 (ish) abilities in each branch so far.

    There's also a day-night cycle. Unfortunately this doesn't happen in real time so it doesn't feel real to me. If your watch says 7:30pm but you never continue with the story line of the quest you're doing then it'll stay at 7:30pm forever until you reach the required point for it to go dark. When it does go dark however the game changes quite dramatically. While the brainless hordes of regular zombies are still as populous as before, new kinds of infected are introduced and they're a lot more dangerous. Some of them look like regular zombies except they're very fast, much tougher and very good at avoiding your attacks. Imagine a regular zombie on meth. There are zombies that explode when they get close and destroy your hit points. Actually, there's pretty much every kind of infected that you would find in Left4Dead, except all the really bad ones come out only at night.

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    Dying Light could definitely be one of the best games of 2015 (unless 2015 ends up giving us hundreds of the best games ever made, which I doubt) but it does have some problems. Though I haven't had any technical issues a hell of a lot of people have been complaining about very low FPS even though they have excellent gaming rigs. The menus were clearly designed for a console and it really shows. I feel the day-night cycle would be more effective if it worked in real time rather than being tied to the plot. Quite a few of the abilities you can unlock are a bit cheesy and unrealistic, like being able to lock on to multiple enemies and kill them all with one throwing star as if you were Shinobi or something. Some of the quests are frustrating too. For one quest I had to find a survivor who was stockpiling seizure medicine. He said he wouldn't let me in unless I got him some chocolates and a movie for his mom for mother's day (his mom's been dead for years, it's actually just a dummy with a mop bucket for a head). So I spent about 30 minutes finding chocolates and this movie he wanted, except when I got back he just took them and still wouldn't let me in, so I had to go in through the roof. Why couldn't I have just done this in the first place? Because the game said I couldn't. These are all relatively minor things though that don't detract too much from the overall goodness of the game. The worst offender is the checkpoint system. You can't manually save the game anytime you want, it saves at checkpoints and it makes no sense to me at all. The last time I quit the game I was in a safe zone and had just finished a mission and the save symbol appeared on screen so I knew it was safe to turn off the game, except the next time I loaded the game I was in a completely different place half way across the city. Come on guys - you can't port a game to the PC without adding a proper save system that we're used to!

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    Overall I'm very impressed with Dying Light and would probably give it around 7 out of 10. It's an above average game by today's standards but it's not an absolute masterpiece, or to put it another way I'd say it's definitely worth buying if you like zombie RPG-type games. Just don't buy it from STEAM, you can get a much better deal elsewhere.
    Last edited by Dayve; 06-02-15, 10:42.

    • Burglar
      Burglar commented
      Editing a comment
      7/10? Pfft how much did Techland pay you!?

    • Dayve
      Dayve commented
      Editing a comment
      For future reference I'm not using the bullshit review scores that most proper review sites use, like giving games 9/10 when it's nothing more than average. 5 out of 10 is average, anything below 5 is bad, anything above is good. 9's or 10's won't be seen unless I'm so blown away that it changes my life... like CK2 did.

    • JackRabbit
      JackRabbit commented
      Editing a comment
      Read like an 8¬¬.
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