Developed by Techland and published by Warner Bros, Dying Light is zombie survival at its greatest, and most gruesome. Equipped with a Four Player Co-op campaign players can climb all over the landscape but beware of the night and try not to look behind you.
Dying Light‘s main protagonist is Kyle Crane an undercover operative hired by the GRE or Global Relief Effort to retrieve a file, he has been sent into fictional Harran where a mysterious outbreak has taken place, turning humans into hyper-aggressive zombies. Cranes main objective once inside Harran is to track down Kadir “Rais” Suleiman a political figure who has lost his mind and is blackmailing the GRE with the stolen file.
As the game begins you are parachuting through the air as Crane before falling abruptly to the ground, you find yourself quickly surrounded by armed Bandits before being bitten by an infected, it appears as though your fate has been sealed before the game has even begun however you are saved by a mysterious woman, who you later come to know as Jade Aldemir.
When Crane comes to, he finds himself inside a tower block which is housing survivors and operating as a makeshift sanctuary. Crane quickly learns that the group inside the building do everything they can to save survivors and that airdrops from the GRE, intended for survivors and victims are being stolen by the Warlord Rais. Crane must now decide whether to proceed with his orders or side with the tower and help the survivors.
One of the very first things you learn to do as Crane is master the art of Parkour, Parkour for those not in the know is a non-competitive physical discipline that enables a person to move freely over and through any terrain using only the body, essentially Parkour is a lot of running, jumping and climbing. Once you have mastered Parkour you begin to get assigned various tasks set by the people housed inside the tower, some are story related and some are random quests, given to you by survivors, these can range from going to get items for a survivor to finding parts scattered around Harran to help fix something.
Throughout the many safehouses, you will find survivors to trade with and these traders can really help you to survive with some of the best weapons available for a price. You can get around Harran a lot easier with strong weapons as opposed to the weaker ones like knives, etc. You can also sell off your looted stuff and change into different clothing with the player stash. Other items worth constructing are the thrown weapons i.e Molotov’s, throwing stars and these items can help you fend off an incoming horde from a safe distance.
At times in the open world of Harran, it can be very hard to breathe as you are constantly surrounded by zombies, your life is in danger every time you set foot outside of a Safe House. A day in Dying Light is essentially split into two parts. Daytime begins at Six AM and will run all the way until nine PM when Harran becomes almost pitch black.
Dying Light‘s tagline reads “Good night, good luck” and luck plays a huge part in whether you can survive till sunrise or not. As the clock strikes nine pm, a warning sign blares across your screen ‘Night is coming’ and this is when the game truly stands out above the rest. Dying Light really comes to life during ventures out at night and if you happen to find yourself exploring the wide open terrain or happen to be caught out in it, be prepared to run for your life or attempt to fight and most likely fall at the hands of the games unique Zombies.
The game itself has you constantly living in fear for your life as you run, vault and climb the many buildings around Harran and the surrounding areas, Zombies line the streets and buildings. The inclusion of the ‘they’re behind you!’ camera is a very nice touch and by using the Y button while running you can actually see what is hunting you down, although staring at it too much might see you run into even more zombies or falling off a cliff!
The various zombies encountered throughout the game begin with your normal zombie or ‘biter’, slow-moving but deadly if you get too close and the faster-paced virals that will come hurtling after you if you dare to fire a weapon or trigger a car alarm, unlike the slower biter’s, virals will climb up to continue attacking you so you need to use the environment to your advantage to escape them or face them head on and kill them.
If you happen to get caught out in the world at night you will more than likely come across volatiles, volatiles can only be found in dark areas like tunnels caves or out in the games many streets. They appear on your map almost like searchlights, if they detect that you are nearby they will suddenly become very fast and very violent and they won’t give up on trying to kill you until you are a safe distance away from them. They can be fended off with the use of UV Flares and a UV Flashlight but this should only be used to buy you some vital seconds to escape and not as a long-term deterrent.
Next up are the frogs, which act like spitters from the Left 4 Dead games, their sole purpose is to aim a spit of acid like substance at you like a veteran sniper. There are many types of Zombies found in Dying Light but there are some bigger than others and that is where the goon and demolisher come in, these enemies are huge in stature and can cause you massive damage with their unerring strength and the massive sledgehammers they wield.
There are other ways to keep the blood in your veins and not in a pool on the floor and these come in the form of man-made traps. Electric Fences, UV Light Traps, Car Traps and Spiked Fences. The traps themselves help out greatly in what can be at times a very brutal game to master, that and coupled with the fact that every death sees you lose valuable points gained to help you survive.
Crane has three separate Skill Tree’s to master, Survivor, Agility and Power, with each point gained you can become more proficient at climbing, running and defending yourself in combat. It also serves to teach you new tricks and help you carry more items. Points are gained in various ways but killing zombies at night and completing Challenges seems to the best way to level the individual trees up.
One of the best parts of Dying Light is the four player Co-op System. Active after the opening prologue players can have friends or random players join their game and it makes for a better experience. So many games before have had players running off on their own, completing tasks with the other participating players left wondering what happened or missing vital parts of the story, well not in Dying Light. If people get too far away and reach an objective before yourself, they can not continue without you being there and speaking to the various mission givers is unavailable until all players are present, this leaves you not missing anything and you can even fast travel straight to the objective is you find yourself struggling or get swarmed by zombies.
Dying Light is very similar to Dead Island, which was also developed by Techland. Dead Island, for the better part, was a very fun horror game and great for fans of co-op but it lacked something and in Dying Light, Techland found it. There are a lot of aspects between the two that players and fans of Dead Island will soon recognise. For example, You will run errands for random survivors, you will find parts throughout Harran that can help you construct weapons and mods that will make that weapon all the more better, you will make medkits and find blueprints, etc.. To survive in Dying Light you need to be quick, you need to be able to adapt to your surroundings and build better, stronger weapons because if you don’t you will most likely find yourself hiding in the safe house or on the floor at the foot of a zombie over and over again.
Techland has definitely left their mark on the zombie and survival horror genre with a beautifully sculptured landscape filled with twists and turns at every corner and getting to climb the buildings like a real-life Spiderman is an amazing experience. The zombies themselves are truly scary and very well detailed and it’s hard to find a game these days that leaves you fearing for your life even in a safe house.
The story itself is well written and leaves you wanting more, there are many other things to do during the story and long after it’s finished with side quests and collecting to do. Dying Light offers so much and certainly packs a punch, or bite.
Tested on Xbox One, review code provided by publisher.
Dan has been gaming for nearly 30 years and has survived everything from Nuclear Fallouts to Zombie Outbreaks but his main love is Survival Horror and don't we all know it. Favourite games include Resident Evil and Grand Theft Auto, he can be regularly found cruising the streets of Vice City listening to the classics.