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Dying Light Review

| January 27, 2015
Dying Light Review Reviews  Dying Light

While Dying Light isn’t a sequel to Techland’s 2011 release of Dead Island, it ought to be. If Dead Island was a proof of concept, where Techland taught themselves that an open-world, first person, zombie survival RPG was possible and fun, Dying Light is maturity of said concept. Dying Light is an ambitious game, one that takes this core foundation from Dead Island, and adds flavor from across a number of genres for AAA gumbo. Ultimately, Dying Light is a surprisingly focused and well put together game compared to its predecessor, even if it borrows most of what it brings to the table. There’s a lot that is really good about Dying Light.

It’s got a lengthy single player story, drop-in drop-out cooperative play, and a versus mode that pits player controlled zombies and soldiers against one another in Techland’s dense open-world playground. Dying Light is a refreshing spin on the zombie apocalypse story that’s been told and told again in gaming. Like its predecessor it has a lot of systems in place: a day night cycle that introduces survival and stealth mechanics, a deep crafting and loot system for weapons and gear, and a multi-tiered progression system that allows players to grow as the plot unfolds. Oh, and it’s got an incredibly fun parkour system that allows you to easily traverse the zombie infested world.

Dying Light Review Reviews  Dying Light

There haven’t been too many risks taken with zombie apocalypse games in the past. Dead Island, the 2011 title which Techland also made, had a very distinct flavor though. It’s the clear foundation for Dying Light, though many changes have been made to that formula, and it has been expanded on greatly. Like Dead Island, Dying Light is still not a game that will have you mowing down hordes of infected zombies. It’s a game about survival and stamina management, not a power fantasy. It’s a game where you feel lucky to find or craft a powerful new weapon, items that you’ll use sparingly going forward to give you your best shot a surviving when you absolutely must fight.

Playing as the capable freelance operative Kyle Crane, you are sent in to the fictional locale of Harran on a secret mission to locate sensitive information about the outbreak. Once you touch down, you’re bitten, then brought into the fold by a group of do-good survivors. Crane answers to The Global Relief Effort who sent him to Harran, but the majority of the gameplay revolves around helping this faction who’ve taken him in, avoiding and surviving the sea of zombies, and fighting against a strong force of rebels led by a warlord in the zone. While Techland doesn’t necessarily break the mold with its storytelling, open world mission structure, or delivery of said missions, Dying Light is constantly challenging players to survive in this harsh environment.

Dying Light Review Reviews  Dying Light

The biggest tool in the player arsenal are the parkour abilities. They give the player an edge on both the zombie and human factions, by allowing quick movements and traversal across the environment. Crane can scale buildings and make death defying leaps all over the massive map, allowing him to get out of trouble quickly. And while there’s certainly many times that you will stand and engage in the brutal combat found in Dying Light, this versatility allows you to outrun just about anything…during the day.

Dying Light Review Reviews  Dying Light

At night on the other hand, Dying Light changes considerably. More dangerous varieties of zombies appear, and its best not to be seen at all by them. Vision cones that are frequently found in stealth games come into play, and if spotted by these “Volatiles” you’ll be in for a fight. Well, not much of one actually. If they catch you after being spotted, you’ll most certainly die. If you do escape, you’ll earn bonus points towards your survival progression tree. Harran is most dangerous at night. Missions are best taken during the day, but many quests will have you venturing out in the dark, or you’ll just find yourself trying to wrap up a quest as the sun sets. The good news is there are ways to remedy the darkness. You can go to safehouses and sleep through the night, venturing out when your chances of survival are better. You can use light traps throughout the city, or a UV ray to get out of jams. Safezones are your best bet, but they need to be secured though, and you can do that at anytime by clearing them of any zombies beforehand. The day/night cycle is one the most interesting mechanics in Dying Light, keeping each day feeling fresh, keeping each night feeling dangerous.

Dying Light Review Reviews  Dying Light

Dying Light is an open-world game though. While there’s a rigid storyline to be followed, you can play it any way you like. You can hit one story mission after another, or you can wander around the city looking for loot if you choose, picking locks, and finding supply caches. You can track down and secure cargo drops before the rebel factions get their hands on them. There are a myriad of side quests to be taken on as well.  There are random encounters, safezones to lock down, towers to climb, and collectibles to be uncovered. There’s plenty to keep you busy in Dying Light. You can do these activities on your own, or with other players if you choose to invite friends to your private game, or open your campaign to the public.

The more you do in Harran, the more you’ll uncover in Dying Light. The more missions you take on, the more chests you open, the more loot you’ll find, the better weapons and equipment you’ll be able to create. The deep crafting mechanics from Dead Island have carried over to Dying Light, though you don’t need pesky workbenches to perform them. There are a ton of melee weapons to discover, modify, and use. There are also quite a few guns to be procured (which make you feel quite OP against zombies when introduced) Blueprints will allow you to make modified weapons that carry specific attributes like electricity or toxicity. Completing quests and activities across the city will also net you experience in three different pools, expanding your skill set depending on the path you choose to spend these improvement points on. Now if this sounds familiar, it’s because just about every open world game follows a similar structure these days. Dying Light does get it right though. It feels focused, accomplishments feel worthwhile and something that build towards becoming stronger and more capable. The attributes and skills that you earn give a strong sense of actual progression. Instead of a map littered with side quests and items to collect that bear no impact on the player or the game, Dying Light feels like everything has a purpose and reason for being there.

Dying Light Review Reviews  Dying Light

This is the sort of attention to detail that’s found throughout Dying Light. A great presentation, solid gameplay elements like the brutal combat, traversal and crafting .. its cohesive, and carries over perfectly to the online aspects of the game.  In fact, it’s all pretty seamless if you choose it to be.  Opening your game up to the public will allow other survivors to join you, or invade your world as a zombie.  All the aspects of the single player experience are accessible in cooperative play, you can choose to tackle story missions, side-quests, or just mess around.  Occasionally, you’ll also be offered group challenges, which are mix of dynamically created content and quest relevant tasks.  All the while, you’re still building towards your character progression.

Invasions on the other hand are quite different.  Your progress in the single player or co-op story is halted when your world is invaded, and you and/or your team will be tasked with destroying zombie nests.  The problem is, you’ve got a human controlled Night Hunter zombie trying to impede your progress in this asymmetric multiplayer experience.  The zombie is powerful, but you do have counters, like flashing him with a UV light to temporarily make them vulnerable to attack.  The zombie’s overall goal is to deplete the survivor respawn reserves before all the nests are destroyed.  It’s a tense game mode, one that has a cat and mouse feel to it, less dynamic than say, Left 4 Dead, but certainly not merely a check on the back of the box.

Now the bad part about these “seamless” integrations is that anyone can join your world, or invade it.  If that’s not the type of gameplay experience you’re looking for, you’ll want to disable that in the options before they yank you out in the middle of an important mission.

The Verdict

Dying Light is one of those games that could have easily disappointed.  You know the type of game.  The one that has a laundry list of features, none of which really work all that well.  One that has a lot of things that sound ambitious, but never really pan out.  It could have been that game, but it isn’t.  What it is, is a surprisingly well put together open-world survival game with a lot of moving parts, all of which add up to something pretty fun to play.   It’s not going to blow your mind in terms of story, and the mission structure of the campaign is certainly familiar, but Dying Light has cohesion between its parts that make it enjoyable.  The day night cycle, the deep crafting, parkour and brutal combat, Dying Light attempts to be all things to all people, and does a better job than most at it.

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  • Allen

    Good review. Can’t wait to check it out.

  • ProGamerStyle

    Hey guys, if you want there is a limited offer for Dying Light on g2a, very cheap! http://www.g2adeals.tk

    • Joe

      that webstie has ripped so many people off. my friend bought a season pass dlc and never got his code.

      • bearKing

        i JUST bought Shadow of Mordor from them for under $15, use their “shield guarantee” and there shouldn’t be any problems

        • ProGamerStyle

          Agree, just use shield protection ;)

      • heatmaus

        Got a 12 month Xbox Live from them at the lowest price I’ve ever seen, lower than Ebay and Amazon sales.

        I didn’t even check the shield guarantee. Five minutes after ordered, I got my code emailed and was playing online.

        • Darcy Larson

          Sounds like we have a plethora of salesmen from g2adeals on this comment section! Either that or paid shills for a company that is infamous for ripping off their so-called “valued customers”. Looks like to me they are out doing damage control at a fevered pace. Rip-offs.

    • Doomdreamer

      Isn’t G2A the company that just had a bunch of orders cancelled because it was proven they were buying codes with stolen credit cards, then reselling them “cheap?” Yeah. Don’t buy from them. Their codes got revoked from Ubisoft, and more are coming. Remember, if it’s too good to be true, then it is probably a SCAM.

  • Dax Mims

    What system did you review it on?

    • K804

      Both consoles are locked at 1080p 60fps..

      • Dax Mims

        Does the game look good on consoles? I read locked at 30fps?

        • Gaspar

          Yep.They said it’d be 60 on the PS4, but both seem to be locked at 30. 900p on XB1.
          I was afraid they’d limit it on the PC too, but it’s not the case. I still didn’t buy it myself to check, though.

          • Dmitry Starovoitov

            1080p 30fps on both consoles – xbox one and ps4

      • ’80s Trebek

        30 fps

      • Agent HUNK

        no theyre not

    • Sam Heitmanek

      Freaking awesome! They use motion blur to make everything seem sooo real. Like a movie.

  • Facts First

    Hearing XB1 version runs a bit smoother than PS4. That makes that decision a little easier.

    • Steve Steel

      Nice is it at 900p?

      • Agent HUNK

        lol

      • Wizard of Peace

        He has no clue what hes talking about…

      • Dmitry Starovoitov

        why 900p? xbo version has 1080p, as ps4

    • Allen

      Funny, yesterday you said you are waiting until this hits the bargain bin.

      • ????’s mother

        Don’t expect consistency from Facts Last or the rest of the Xbox vermin.

    • Guester

      1080p 30fps lol

    • shadus

      just an observation. Based on total biscuit’s port report, it seems that the PC version of the game isn’t multi threaded very well basically having one of your cpu cores being the bottleneck. Assuming the code is similar one would expect the xbox one version to perform better as its version of the jaguar runs a higher clock speed.

    • Allen

      http://gearnuke.com/dying-light-pc-highlow-vs-ps4-screenshot-comparison-ps4-holds-surprisingly-well-1080p-pc/

      This is to the PC master race douche bag but is a good reply to you as well. PS4 holds up very well to the PC on high settings (less the 60fps).

    • Definetively not, Even with the different solution Digital Foundry tested it and PS4 has never gone down below 28fps, xb1 down to 23

    • wastheman

      how about you kill yourself

    • LambdaCrysis

      Do you not read digital foundry?

  • Awesome review man, thanks. Ill be gettin it asap! plus dead island is ma 2nd best zombie game eva!

  • Naberios

    The one thing I’m not too psyched about is the “cheating” night time zombies. I had watched a few preview trailers, so I knew what I was getting into when I pre-ordered. I hope it works as a fun part of the game for its whole campaign. And hopefully my Ninja outfit pre-order bonus keeps me safe at night!

  • Dax Mims

    confirmed native 1080p 30fps on both Xbox One and PS4. Listed on Techland’s Facebook page as well as Polygon and many other sites.

  • Spartacous

    I played the game on pc, and I really enjoyed the graphics! I had around 70 fps and i didn’t have a single framerate drop! Didn’t see any bug, that is amazing for an open-world game!
    Really recommend everyone to play this game, even though it gets freaking scary at nights!!

  • Ash

    Definitely one of the best zombie games ever made. Maybe even the best.

  • zane1323

    I’m looking to find an answer regarding the graphic’s and immersion. With games like The Last of Us, Gta 5, and Fallout 3 I feel like I am in the game.. Is that the case here? Or do you feel like your just running errands/passing time. Immersion is the key to me buying or passing this title.. I am a massive survival nut and zombie fanatic so the title alone gets me excited.. Just worried that I wont feel apart of the world.

    • yousuck

      idiot

    • Robin

      Very immersive, especially at night, the score and sound effects really draw you in.

  • William Schwartz: There’s been a lot of turmoil about graphics issues with this game on launch day (see Steam forum), in particular exceptionally low framerates outdoor (PC version). Did you experience any issues like that? Or did you play a pre-launch build (supposedly those builds did not have the same issues, semi-confirmed by twitch streams prior to launch)?

  • How many hours did you play the game? Did you finish the campaign? Will there be updated reviews regarding the online multiplayer of this game? Cheers.

  • SuperTrooper

    I’m still trying to figure out how to play campaign with friends. Does the option only pop up when ur friends are online playing Dying Light?

    • Pocky

      Hit esc, go to settings, online – set the mp to private, friends only or open

  • Kroniick420

    1 STAR !!!! @BrianLloyd_B_Lo: Twitter #DyingLight: @DyingLightGame .. Just deleted all my levels and items 6hrs into game after an error screen… need fix !@TechlandGames BUYER BEWARE !!!

  • Jr

    Loved the game and just beat the campaign, I loved the story and all the mechanics did work well together for me! It’s a must have and the best game out in recent time!

  • Alan No Sleep Clusan

    8/10 is better than a 7 from destructoid. I love this game. I give it a 9 for all that it actually does right.

  • feenspear

    JESUS its 1080p and 30 FPS on CONSOLES! FFS its smooth and thats all that matters…. Wow so many cryasses

  • Gamer_21

    Going to buy this, soon

  • Sam Heitmanek

    The game is totally awesome! I’ve been playing it for the last two nights. It ROCKS!

  • Guest

    Hi guys, if you want there is a limited promo for Dying Light on g2a: http://www.g2as.gq hope help.