Dying Light is yet another game I can add to the ever growing pile of games I really wanted to like. The demo on PSN was fantastic, and I was drawn into this beautiful hell that Techland had created. The demo was an hour long excursion into Harran, a city decimated by the zombie virus that has broken out. Techland wisely didn’t include much side missions, and for good reason; but i’ll get into that later. There is so much this game did right, but for everything it nails, there are 2 or more that were a letdown.
You are Kyle Crane, an employee of the GRE, or Global Relief Effort. This company is pretty self-explanatory, and goes around the world helping others who are trapped by volatile circumstances. What follows is at first engaging, but eventually becomes a cliched, forgettable story of mediocre relationships and passion fueled redemption. The main story is just good enough to keep you going, but completely falls apart in the last 1/3 of the game.
To add insult to injury, the final boss fight was one of the worst I have played in recent memory. It was frustrating, and threw in horribly timed QTE’s that not only felt out of place, but it felt like a lazy decision to make things seem more dramatic. The story just gets silly near the end, and I could not wait for this game to finish. The side missions that the game throws in are one of the worst I have ever seen, and the laziness of the developers really starts to show here. They are not only numerous, but involve the typical side mission tropes. Go here, retrieve/kill that, rinse wash repeat. You’ve done it all before, and not even playing these in online co-op could remedy this.
Dying Light nailed the visuals here. Everything besides the character models are top notch, and the game is drop dead gorgeous, and ran with no hitches whatsoever. This game was very stable throughout, and had no bugs at all. The gameplay felt very smooth, and doing parkour around the city had a great feel to it. The zombies all looked amazing, and each location comes to life.
I would’ve liked a bit more variety in the environments, as they do get old after a while. Eventually you get tired of going through tunnels, slums and whatnot. I don’t know why the character models look so bad, they are just kind of…..off. They just aren’t on the same level that the rest of the game is, and they stand out because of that. They needed a lot more work and it shows. The weapons and the executions all were very nice looking, but once again a bit more variety here would’ve been nice. Techland’s last game, Dead Island, had a bit more variety in the weapon crafting, and that is missed here.
I’ve found some nails, I got a blueprint, and a mean looking sicle. Time to make a death machine am I right? Well…you can. But only for a limited time. This mechanic makes the game feel extremely tedious after a while, as you can’t really get attached to any one weapon. Everything breaks eventually, and has only a certain amount of repairs. While this may sound realistic, it doesn’t make for an interesting game mechanic. A lot of the fun I had from the first Dead Island was doing some quests until I found a blueprint for an awesome sounding weapon, and then I would get to stick with it for a while. That is sorely missed here, and while it does add a degree of difficulty to the game, it gets pretty freaking annoying after a while.
Another big selling point of the game that I was looking forward to was online co-op. It ended up being a minor diversion more than anything else, and I didn’t really care much for it. Sure, it’s nice to have some people around, but if I want to complete my mission instead of getting distracted fighting random zombies and attracting a horde then it just feels sort of weird. Most of the time you can only fight a small amount of zombies, because once more than a few start coming, you are pretty much screwed.
Also fighting at night was a joke. The “volatile” or buffed up zombies were so insanely hard to kill, that it just stopped being fun after a bit. You combine that with the fact that you can’t see much, there are many patrols, and everything is stronger, and It just wasn’t very fun. I usually skipped doing missions at night if I could, it wasn’t worth e extra xp I got from it.
The weapons and combat are fine, but they never get beyond that. Sure, there are some nice slo-mo moments where you get a breath of fresh air as you whack a helpless walker in the face, but those moments get old pretty fast. Once you get past that initial rush, there just isn’t much here. The guns are ok, but make so much noise that they aren’t worth the trouble unless you are fighting humans.
This is a difficult game, but if you stick with it, Dying Light becomes a bit easier, but not any more satisfying. There is an overwhelming sense of laziness that permeates the whole game and not only led me to skip most of the side missions, but led me to want to speed through the main story and get done with it already.
Overall, this game is a huge disappointment. Many would say it’s what Dead Island should have been, but it’s too little too late. I wanted to like this game so much, but it ended up being an exercise in tedium. Skip it if you can, and maybe find some other outlet to fuel your zombie desires. This isn’t it.