Tech News on G4
Dying Light a rotten good time
Feb 19, 2015
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
What do you do when you want to shake up a stale video game genre? Simple - just add parkour.
Dying Light is the latest game featuring endless throngs of zombies, and it includes so many of the zombie tropes you've seen before - desperate survivors willing to do anything to live another day, friends being bitten and "turning," and countless skulls being bashed in.
In a stroke of genius though, developer Techland (of "Dead Island" fame), gave its protagonist the ability to leap across buildings, climb virtually any solid object, and run under, over, and right through the walking dead.
Like much of the game, the parkour system is a little rough around the edges, but there's so much fun stuff to do in this open world that the majority of its faults can be forgiven and forgotten.
Players take on the role of Kyle Crane, a man who has been hired by the mysterious company known as the Global Relief Effort (GRE) to recover a mysterious file from the fictitious city known as Harran. A viral outbreak has spread through the city, turning many of its citizens into zombies.
Crane is airdropped into the now-quarantined Harran, and it's not long before the you-know-what hits the fan. Crane unwittingly becomes involved in a conspiracy, and it's up to him to uncover the GRE's true plans, all while trying to survive in a city overrun with the undead.
You can be sure that the plot takes a backseat to all the other stuff going on in the game. Players will learn the basics of the parkour system in a short tutorial, and from there, they're let loose in Harran.
There's definitely a sharp learning curve to understanding and controlling the parkour system, but once it clicks, it proves to be one of the game's biggest strengths. Best of all, it only becomes easier to traverse Harran as your character levels up. Among other things, you'll eventually be able to increase your stamina and recover from higher falls.
Plus, just when you think the game has started to become somewhat stale, you'll be able to take ownership of a grapple hook that opens up the game's traversal system in a new and thrilling way.
Dying Light's combat system starts off very melee-focused, and it's wonderful. Weapons are never far away, and the crafting system is fantastic. You'll be able to make everything from an electrified axe, to a sword that's as liable to burn a zombie as it is to slice off a limb.
Later on, the game introduces guns, and it never quite feels as satisfying as a good ol' head-bashing. Instead of the usual left-trigger-aim, right-trigger-shoot mechanic that gamers have been trained to do in first-person shooters for years, aiming down the sights requires a click of the right stick. It never feels quite right, and moving and aiming guns feels slow and floaty.
When it comes to those aforementioned zombie world tropes, Dying Light relies heavily on the whole "humans are more dangerous than the undead" theme. Unfortunately, it's a plot device that's overused (how many times can Crane be double-crossed before he smartens the heck up and stops trusting everyone with which he crosses paths?), and again, it's much more fun taking on zombies than it is taking on random gun-toting henchmen.
The reason for that is that there are zombies of all types in Dying Light. By day, you'll have groups of slow walkers trying to overwhelm you, as well as some recently-turned humans who are much faster and will even attack you with weapons.
Night time is a whole other story. When the sun sets, vicious enemies known as Volatiles come out of hiding and prowl around. Volatiles are extremely fast, and once they find you, they're relentless in their pursuit. For me, they offered some of the most effective scares I've experienced in a video game in years.
Like any good open-world game, Dying Light offers dozens upon dozens of side quests to keep you busy. A lot of them admittedly devolve into fetching an item (or several items) for NPCs, but despite how repetitive they can be, it was never enough to stop me from taking on yet another quest.
Dying Light also offers drop-in/drop-out co-op, which is all sorts of fun when white-knuckle stealth has taken its toll on your psyche. You can finish quests with up to three other players, or take each other on in random mini-competitions. It adds an entirely new layer to a game already brimming with content.
Dying Light isn't perfect, but that's often the case with games this ambitious. Just when it starts to feel bloated and overly-long, it offers something new for players. It's a beautiful game that features superb sound that will have you whipping your head around on the couch every time you hear a zombie scream from somewhere beyond.
Techland has managed to liven up (pun very much intended) the zombie genre in a hugely successful way. We've all seen zombies get killed in nearly every imaginable way, but Dying Light lets you dropkick them and then shoot a grappling hook through their face. That right there is reason enough to check out this game.
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