Game Review: Dying Light

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Dying Light, from the developers of Dead Island, is yet another zombie-ridden survival horror game which pits you against the undead as you fight to find the truth behind the recent infection that has plagued one unfortunate part of the world. Thing is, unlike Dead Island and its sequels, Dying Light isn’t bad. In fact, I’d say it’s what Dead Island should have been from the beginning.

You play as Kyle Crane, an undercover operative sent to infiltrate the quarantine zone in the city of Harran. After being dropped into the city, things go south quickly and you’re thrown headfirst into a world where survival is the name of the game. The only way to reach the finale is by smashing a couple of skulls. The story is intriguing and not repetitive, thankfully. Missions range in difficulty and complement the story line. However, some require exploration of the large map, and this can be tedious.

The menus, combat system and upgrade-tree feel refined compared to previous Techland titles and that’s a god-send. The menus are smooth and easy to navigate. Upgrades provide character enhancements you look forward to levelling as you play.

Racking up points is easy. Double XP during the night means the occasional midnight rampage rewards you with not only frights, but BIG rewards. The developers could have left out the stamina bar and the more than annoying weapon degradation. Levelling up occurs on a regular basis, with three skills available for upgrade from the start. Beating the undead as well as jumping and running over obstacles provides XP, so there’s never a shortage of points to be collected.

The parkour style gameplay is a perk. Travelling around the vast city over rooftops is a major bonus and gives the game an advantage over other similar games in the genre. Escaping from the horde is easy using the parkour mechanic, but can be a challenge if you take a wrong turn or miss that all important leap to safety.

AI zombies have a good range of sight and respond quickly to any loud noises such as explosions and traps. It’s during the night that you need to be on higher alert, with zombies mutating and becoming stronger. Special zombie types appear often across the map and these prove both challenging and fun to take down, but fumbling around will cause nearby strays to take advantage of the situation.

As with all zombie related titles created by Techland, weapons are customisable through the use of blueprints and collected items. You can get your hands on a wide variety of flesh-ripping weapons. Guns aren’t scarce and there are plenty to go around once you encounter human AI.

Due to the prevalence of shops, you’ll never find yourself short of important supplies or cash. Getting rid of your unwanted goods is a breeze. The main trader in The Tower – your headquarters –also offers free goods once special packages are retrieved from the outside world: a bonus for anyone who may find themselves low on supplies for whatever reason.

Dying Light features a co-operative mode which utilizes drop-in and drop-out gameplay, meaning you can continue kicking ass without having to wait for hosts to switch or loading screens to disappear. The only disappointment regarding the co-operative play is the fact that Techland have decided to stick with one character, Kyle, for each of the four players.

Overall Dying Light is what many will expect it to be: a zombie fest where jumping on the heads of the undead like Mario and scaling rooftops like Ezio are standard procedure. Combat is good, the storyline will keep you both interested and invested whilst the co-operative fun brings extra longevity to the game as a whole. Techland, you did good.

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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