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Dying Light Review

Techland have made a name for themselves when it comes to the zombie apocalypse and their entertaining series of Dead Island games and whilst we wait for the next instalment we have Dying Light to entertain us on the Xbox One, PS4 and PC and though it is the same old shuffling dead, this is an altogether different game.

Dying Light sees you playing as Kyle Crane, a Special Ops Agent sent into unfamiliar territory to try and steal some important documents. What should be an easy smash and grab job is not as simple as it sounds as the target is holed up in Harran, a Turkish city locked down and in an imposed quarantine thanks to an outbreak of Zombieitis. With small pockets of survivors spread all over the city it is your job to parachute in, infiltrate the survivors compound, gain their trust and steal the mysterious files, but things go a bit haywire with Kyle's entrance going spectacularly wrong, which sees him being ambushed by some of the more violent gangs and getting bitten by a zombie. Siding with the more kindly inhabitants in a fortified apartment block, Kyle then becomes a runner, risking life and limb by venturing from the safe confines, doing favours and climbing the social ladder to get hold of the important files. 

The gameplay in Dying Light is best described as a blend of Mirrors Edge mixed with Assassin's Creed and a sprinkling of Far Cry; with Kyle being very adept at vaulting and grabbing onto ledges, traversing the rooftops and balconies with ease, staying out of grabbing distance of the zombies; the city of Harran being a huge sprawling play area that even in the early stages gives you plenty of freedom to run-around and enjoy as you use Kyle's many parkour skills. Of course there are parts of the game where no matter how skilled you are at parkour, you are forced to fight and Kyle is no slouch when it comes to dishing out the damage, using items such as pipes and wrenches to start with, as you progress and gather more blueprints more violent weapons become available. 

Being stuck in an apocalyptic scenario, basic amenities are scarce so raiding abandoned apartments, bins, dead bodies and stashes is vital, using Kyle's "survivor sense" that briefly illuminates items of interest. It is this small element that really brought me round to Dying Light as the city of Harran is truly accessible on a different level to many other sandbox games, you see a building, the chances are you can get into it, be it picking a lock, breaking down wooden barricades or using your parkour skills to find a more unconventional entrance, really making you feel like a scrounger desperate to collect titbits to survive with these seemingly pointless items becoming vital in creating even more potions and improving your weaponry by adding flame and electricity elements to them or even making them more durable.

Though already skilled at parkour quite early on you are introduced to the skill trees, with three separate areas to level up by generally playing the game, jumping, attacking and carrying out missions all build points towards the next skill point to spend, be it on more strength, mixing better potions and more hand to hand combat skills plus a few surprises that really change how you play the game.

The zombies in Dying Light are a mixture of many of the more popular undead from the genre, be they regular shufflers, the more rabid 'virals', 'brutes' with hammers or 'spitters' and 'hordes,' but Dying Light also has a few of its own ideas with my favourite being the 'hazmat' zombie, where slicing its suit will make it zoom around like a balloon before bursting in a cloud of blood; of course making noise attracts more zombies so it is best to enjoy this spectacle from a safe distance. 

Though the story is set up as you infiltrating the city of Harran all on your own, the game is so much better with other online players joining in, letting you jump in on other games to lend a hand with the matchmaking system doing a good job of connecting you with players in the same mission, helping each other out whilst also competing in a huge assortment of mini games that pop up all over the map. Dying Light also supports a day and night cycle, with the game doubling your agility which is a good thing as once the sun goes down, an all-new manner of monster emerges, with hunter zombies prowling the streets and causing you to deftly avoid their gaze as if they catch a glimpse of you they tend to only stop chasing once you are dead at their feet. Night-time also adds another online element, with online players able to invade your world and turning the game into a team multiplayer mode, with the humans having to destroy nests and the hunters who joined in via the Be the Zombie mode having to kill the humans. This mode is extremely enjoyable as long as there is an equal balance on the teams, humans using their UV torch to slow down an weaken the hunters before finishing them off and the hunters able to zip around like a zombie Spiderman by using their tentacles and pouncing from great distances for a swift kill. If you do not fancy any online play you can always just alter the settings or find a bunk and hide away for the night, though you do miss out on a great mode and plenty of bonuses this way. 

You know when you are playing an enjoyable and decent game when you struggle to find anything really wrong with it, the iffy grab mechanics for the parkour get better as you upgrade and get used to what the game will and will not allow, so overall Dying Light is a very good and solid title. My only real issue is with the online games; I am not sure if it is a server issue or something wrong behind the scenes but trying to join a game can be a hassle, with searching and joining games failing 90% of the time, but the quick join works pretty much all of the time, although it can be a little annoying as most of the time these games tend to be with only one other player which will quite often result in a rage quit. Things fare better with the co-op with games running a little more frequently, however the game has a few niggling problems, such as all of the players having to be to be present to start a mission. Personally I would have loved to have seen a bustling world hub of online players joining together at points to create games, it can be done, plenty of racing games do it.

Although it has a run of the mill story and a few online connection issues, Dying Light surpassed my expectations and has a lot going for it, offering hours of enjoyable and interesting gameplay with loads of missions to participate in solo or in groups and plenty of weapons to customise, all wrapped up in a fun and smooth parkour game that does not disappoint.

Words by Ash Buchanan.


+ Looks and sounds fantastic.
+ The parkour is solid and enjoyable.
+ Loads of weapons to create and upgrade co-op missions and a exciting Be the Zombie mode.


- A few issues with joining online games.

Edited On 26 Feb, 2015

( 5 )
Bindiana's avatar
Bindiana 2 years ago
Think you meant Dead Island not Dead Rising other then that a good review.
Anonymous user's avatar
MICHAEL 2 years ago
Hi Ash. This was a very nice read. I asked Joe a question about it on Twitter but he wasn't sure so I will just copy and paste the same question here for you. Glad to see quick join works. When you say "searching and joining games failing 90% of the time", can you tell me how bad is it compared to FC4 co-op? I couldn't play a game at all on co-op in Far Cry 4 as it was so terrible. It takes pure luck to find someone with a great connection but was very rare to come across. It's great to hear that quick joins works as I mostly use that anyway but now and then I like to search and join. Very disappointing to hear it fails 90% of the time.
unseen_hero ( Jack )'s avatar
unseen_hero ( Jack ) 2 years ago
Can't wait for 27th Feb.
Ash Buchanan's avatar
Ash Buchanan 2 years ago
What's the point of an editor if they miss that. Re the online. Co op worked pretty much all of the time, as does quick play but for some reason the game search connection fail a lot. No idea why but dies not effect the game too much. Just annoying waste if time with failed connections.
Old Timer's avatar
Old Timer 2 years ago
I downloaded it the day it became available and it's one of my favourite new gen titles to date. I've just completed my second play through, now waiting for the 'Hard Mode' to be added. If your a fan of the Dead Island series ( Dying Light so much better in my opinion ) then this is a must buy. This is the first I've heard of the co-op problems but to be honest I only ever played with people I know lol and never had an issue here.

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