Review – Dying Light
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Survival Horror
Director: Pawel Marchewka & Adrian Ciszewski
Release Date: January 27th 2015
I was extremely excited for Dying Light when it was first announced. I was already a fan of the Dead Island games, so the concept of a zombie game in the same vein with a parkour mechanic, (along with the glowing critical reception the game received pre-release,) sounded incredible to me. Unfortunately, while I wanted to like this game more than anyone, I was very let down when I first played it upon release. So, recently I decided to go back and replay Dying Light for review to see if my thoughts would change.
This game came out in January 2015, so it’s now more than half a decade old, but honestly it feels much older than that. The graphics have not aged well at all and the player character honestly feels so heavy and clunky and there is no coherent flow to the free running at all.
To be honest, I am just as disappointed as I was when I first played the game back in 2015. I feel like I am still waiting to play the game that reviewers described around the game’s release. I actually think I may prefer the original Dead Island to Dying Light, although there is always the chance that I may be looking at Dead Island through rose tinted glasses.
The major game-play gimmick in Dying Light is obviously the free running, but instead of getting the feeling of Dead Island meets Mirror’s Edge that I expected going in, I instead got something more akin to the janky free running of the Far Cry games.
The other game-play gimmick is the idea of ‘drops,’ which are basically supply drops that are dropped in various locations throughout the map. The controller will vibrate, the blue icon will appear on the map and you haul ass across the environment towards it, using the awkward parkour mechanic that you are forced to endure throughout the game. The first couple of drops are difficult when you don’t yet really know what you are doing yet. However, after a while you know what to expect and as soon as you feel the controller rumble and the icon appear on the mini map you know to just run as fast as possible towards the icon and everything will be straightforward.
While I am aware that telling an immersive story isn’t a huge priority for this game, what story they do attempt to tell is done so via garbage writing delivered by extremely poor voice acting. In addition, it makes absolutely no sense that you play as some random guy that the people from The Tower find out on the street and within spending a day or two with them, they declare you to be the best free runner in the whole tower. It is all just far too convenient to the plot to stomach.
The game also attempts to force you to change your play style at night. Some of the zombies transform into hulking, hard to kill beasts with super speed. However, their field of vision also appears on the map, so as long as you can avoid that then everything will be hunky dory. Even if you do get seen you can just run away for a bit and climb onto a ledge and they will soon forget about you. I actually think that the virals that attack you during the day are more dangerous as they don’t have a specific field of view and are faster than the night time virals.
Although all of these minor gripes do add up to my overall dislike of Dying Light, the biggest let down in this game is its loot system. The loot in Dead Island was so good, as when you had a great weapon, you really felt like it was great because it was so effective and felt so good to use in combat. There was a real charm to the weapons you could find in that game that is sorely missing here. The loot in Dying Light is much more generic and the effectiveness of the melee weapons has been significantly neutered.
The game starts you off with flimsy blunt melee weapons, which is expected. Then you either find a decent weapon or save up your money and buy a sweet new axe or machete that you think that this is going to help you take out everything so much easier. Then, it turns out that the thing you just put a good chuck of time into acquiring actually isn’t that much more effective than the generic machete that you’ve had since the start of the game. Your shiny new one might kill a zombie in 15 hits rather than 18, but frankly it never felt worth making the upgrade to me.
Also the melee weapons degrade quickly, but that doesn’t matter because there is a good amount of weapons to buy and find as replacements. However, because it feels like they have all been nerfed in comparison to the Dead Island melee weapons anyway, it renders the whole process totally pointless. This means that the loot system in this game is pretty much entirely redundant, as it doesn’t have any sort of significant impact on the player’s game-play experience in the end.
Also the guns in the game are overpowered as all hell. The big guys with the heavy weapons will take you around fifty smacks with a hammer to bring down. However, if you have a pistol and jump over a three foot wall, they can’t follow you and so they just stand still. This means that you just pop two or three caps into their skull and they will go down in a couple of seconds. I also dislike how the damage you inflict on an enemy is the same no matter where on the body that you hit them. You can whack a guy repeatedly in the head or the legs and he will fall down in the same amount of hits either way.
This game tries to be the next gen version of Dead Island, but what it delivers is a game that looks and feels like it came out at the same time as its predecessor and in a lot of ways it is even less intuitive than the first game. I know that I keep comparing this game to Dead Island, but I honestly believe that if you are looking for a first person zombie survival game then you should pick up Dead Island as it plays better than this Dying Light and is graphically on par.
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