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Dying Light: A Review

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Before I get started I just want to say this is my first time reviewing a game, and while I've wanted to do something like this in the past I've never really been able to think up enough reasons to review some of the games I've played. I'd like to put it out there that while I've beaten the game I have not yet tried the "Be a zombie" DLC mode yet nor have I flagged my games for invasion by other players, or done the Co-Op so I will be reviewing this from a singleplayer standpoint as a game from start to finish. I will also try to avoid as much spoilers as I can but any will be tagged. I'm also going to keep this sweet and simple.


So let's get the wreck a rollin'




So what is Dying Light?

Dying Light is a primarily singleplayer zombie survival game with some rogue-like elements and an open and explorable world and a parkour system allowing you to basically go anywhere you can see in the city. The game starts with you, Kyle Crane, a GRE undercover operative being air dropped into the fictional city Hannan where you are to locate an important GRE file that has been taken by a rogue operative hiding somewhere in the city. Immediately after being dropped in, you're ambushed by some survivors you soon find out are working for a local warlord named Rais. In the process you end up firing off a shot of your gun, attracting some zombies referred to as 'biters' and end up getting bite, becoming infected yourself. Through the application of a drug known as Antizen you're able to suppress the virus long enough to search for the file, and hopefully, a cure.


Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I'd like to break up this review into 2 sections, where I think the game fell short, and where I think the game succeeded. I'm starting with the bad because I feel these are very important and could have been handled better.


The bad:



(Fuck these guys sideways)


To start off, and this is easily my biggest issue with this game by far, is it's tendency to assassinate the player for making some mistakes; a few of which may not be entirely the players fault. Some of these happening with hiccups in the parkour, where you'd say try to grab a ledge you've grabbed countless times but this time it seemed to fail and suddenly there's nothing to grab all the way to your death.


Though my biggest problem by far with the player assassination lies with a type of infected known as bombers. If the name didn't imply, these are very much like boomers from Left 4 Dead except they kill you instantly if you're close. No ifs, ands, or buts. This would be acceptable if not for how they use them. By design, they do stand out from the other zombies, but not enough to really be helpful. They vary visually from the rest by a pulsing, red tumor like protrusion down the front of their torso. The problem is, even hitting them with a weapon detonates them, and they often like to throw these guys at you in tight, crowded spaces, where your first instinct is to swing at this new threat that's come bursting out of a door in melee range, only to realize your mistake way too late and it's back to the nearest safe house/mission checkpoint.


Again I'd be less bothered by all of this, if you weren't penalized for death. You lose survivor XP on death, which is only gained from missions both main and side, and surviving the night outside of a safehouse. So losing hard earned XP because the game teaches you to react quickly to new threats then punishes you for doing so, it gets mighty frustrating.



The final section of the game also disappointed me. This isn't spoiling anything story wise but I'll put this in tags just in case


I feel like this part was made before a lot of the rest of the game was because they introduced a new enemy only once for the sake of killing you if it reaches you. On top of that, the boss fight was made up only of Quick time events. A mechanic not used anywhere else in the game beyond pushing biters off of you when they grab or pulling open something like a valve or electricity box; and those are all really just button mashes and at least they didn't kill you instantly if you messed them up.



Now for the good. Don't worry this section is longer than the bad. :)



(Elemental weapons!)


The biggest turn on for me in this game by far, is just how ungodly satisfying it is. As much as this game likes to get under my skin with its bullshit sometimes, it immediately offers me a method to vent that frustration in the most primal way possible: the total slaughter of zombies you find all over the place. Don't get me wrong, it's violent. It's very violent. So if you don't like that sort of thing then this game is not for you at all. You can chunk off limbs of the zombies, drop kick them off roofs or into the abundant spike traps all over the city, break their legs with a sliding kick, lead them to a car or fence trap and watch as they turn into sweet electrified combat experience, hit them with throwing stars or DIY grenades, or just melt them with molotovs. Everything about this game just screams stress relief and it does it well. Weapons do come with a durability but they can be repaired a certain number of times using metal you find around the game. How many times you can do that depends on the weapons quality, ranging anywhere from 2-5 times. Later levels will slow down weapon damage and even have a chance to repair without consuming a repair cost, which is great for the really strong and expensive ones. There are guns but they aren't strongly recommended for the typical zombie. Ammo count is capped low and they actually do less damage than mid to late game weapons. On top of that guns are loud and attract the freshly turned which are still fast, strong, and agile. You're better off just saving them for fights against Rais' men or the really big meaty zombies that take a lot of hits. And if you really want to, you can throw held weapons at enemies for a strong chunk of damage. careful when doing that against other survivors though, as they'll often just dodge or block it.


On top of that, the rest of the game feels like it's a collection of good mechanics from good games made in the past few years. I can see heavy influence from Far Cry 3 in this game with the way the way the crafting, leveling and UI systems are handled. Even some puzzles and side missions feel influenced by FC3. There's a loot system with the classic white, green, blue, purple, and orange rarity system. There's a lockpicking mechanic as well that's pretty much skyrim or fallout(but doesn't take as long, thankfully since there's a lot of lockpicking) Looting isn't intrusive either and is entirely optional.


I'm not a big fan of crafting systems since there's usually like a billion recipes that you're never gonna use and your inventory gets over-saturated with crafting materials you never use but this game handled that much better. While some of the stuff you can craft is fun and helpful it's fully possible to go the game without doing so. Maybe a bit difficult since the top crafted item is medkits, but it's still possible. Crafting materials, as well as non-combat equipment such as lockpicks and medkits, are unlimited inventory space. the only space you have in limit is for extra weapons/ consumables such as throwing stars and molotovs. Even then you have a player stash you can access from any safehouse where you can drop off weapons or any other gear you want to save for later.


The parkour system, while it occasionally hiccups, is actually very smooth and responsive. In fact, it's fun to just run around the city and see how long you can keep a consistent path going. The games level design is layed out nicely enough that you don't have to stop and think about the next step too much, which really aids in travel and escapes.


The leveling system itself is pretty creative, as you have 3 different levels. Survivor level is raised through doing quests and surviving the night. These abilities affect things such as the speed at which your weapon takes damage, how much you get/pay for selling/buying, etc. The agility level is ranked up through, well, acts of agility such as parkour, or environmental zombie kills. These skills help with things like how fast and how long you can sprint, how far you can fall before taking damage, sliding, etc. Power level is the last and is raised through the simple act of butchering zombies. The skills in this tree benefit how much fight stamina you have, how often you can stun an enemy and how much damage you can take. Leveling is often slower but you will be raising it through the simple act of playing the game so there's not a whole lot of grinding you have to do. Most of that would take place at night anyways, which you fully have the option to skip over via bedrolls.


Night time is actually handled very creatively. At nightime, creatures known as Volatiles come out. These are very fast and very dangerous and alerting them will trigger a chase in which nearby zombies are drawn to you. Killing one anywhere before late game takes some skill and creativity as only 2 of them could beat you down faster than you can count the enemy blips on your minimap. The thing about the nightime is that all Agility and Power xp gained is doubled. Most of my deaths in the game come from night play because I could just never resist the urge to power farm experience even with 15+ volatiles hungrily barreling down on top of me. The night atmosphere is also handled really well. I'm so desensitized to horror games that I can play games such as Amnesia or Outlast without getting bothered much at all outside of jumpscares, but at night, when you know things are lurking out there and even simple sounds can alert them to your presence I found myself legitimately unnerved early on. I was surrounded by death waiting to happen and there I was in the middle of the dark hoping to god my flashlight didn't alarm anything.


Lastly the characters and dialogue. While there are moments in the game where certain lines of dialogue fall short, I've been pleasantly surprised more often than not by the main characters realistic reactions to situations. By that I mean I'd say something to myself in response to a situation and find myself hearing almost the exact same words come out of the Kyles mouth in response. Like I accused this game of reading my mind on multiple occasions because some of the dialogue was just so in tuned to how I felt.


There's a lot more to this game than I've mentioned here as well. If you're one who likes to have a little direction when you play, there's plenty of side quests to do as well. If you like lore, then you can watch out for blue signals on the map as they sometimes lead to other survivors taking a breather who're willing to tell you about life before and during the start of the outbreak. All of this combined with the beautiful graphics and immersive universe has lead me to a very enjoyable experience.



(You see zombies, I see fun.)


Everything taken into consideration, the good and the bad, my final rating for this game is a solid 9/10.


ADHD version: game has some bugs and issues but it's so damn fun. Highly recommended.

Retired Forum Moderator

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