Techland have a history of courting controversy. First the initial viral Dead Island trailer which caused a media frenzy at time of release, then the zombie Bait Torso special edition which had the mainstream media decrying the “tasteless” statue, and now the Be The Zombie Preorder exclusive and subsequent 11th hour delays on physical release.
Many of our community despite the negative press have delved into their latest outing, Dying Light, and as I too have played the game I thought not only would I review the game but we would sit down, and have a chat to give those of you not yet up to date, the opportunity to find out more and see the opinion of the guys on the ground.
Dying Light casts you in the role of Kyle Crane, an operative for the GRE (Global Relief Effort) sent in to the quarantined city of Harran to retrieve a vital file following a viral outbreak which saw the vast majority of the populace transformed into mindlessly aggressive Zombies.
Winding up on the wrong side of a group of thugs under the command of a local opportunistic warlord, Rais, and falling foul of the zombie horde; Krane is saved by the timely intervention of Jade Aldimar who brings him back to “The Tower”, a stronghold of one of the many groups of survivors still resisting the rising tide of undead. Trained in the basics of Parkour and provided with Antizen, a suppresant for the Harran virus, allow Krane to make his way out on the streets and rooftops of Harran as a runner tasked with retrieving essential supplies for The Tower. This provides perfect cover to continue his mission on behalf of the GRE.
Joining me this time to talk all things Dying Light, are regulars Matt Jones (munkimatt) and Neale Jarret (BaronVonPleb), and for his first round table: Phil Bonner (aka PainJunkie).
- A lot of focus has been placed on the parkour movement from dying light, and even in early builds it appeared impressive. How does it live up to the spin?
Matt – It’s generally good fun, once you have a couple of upgrades under your belt you can jump and run around the map with relative ease. I would have quite liked to see some sort of bonus XP system for stringing moves together within a short period, but nevermind. The parkour system is sometimes a bit glitchy though. For example, there’s occasionally broken animations when leaping from a platform you’re holding onto to another which can throw you off, and one more than one occasion my character has just sort of flown ‘through’ scaffolding I should have been jumping to, leading to a plummet to my death. It’s a complex system though, so I’m quite forgiving of it.
Phil – Awesome. And it only gets better. As Krane levels up he gets better at moving around the environment.
Neale – It did take me a while to get used to it. Coming from playing a third person game like Assassin’s Creed Unity, where it’s a simple “look in that direction and press two buttons”, Dying Light for me wasn’t that easy ‘off the bat’. But, having put some time into it, and advancing that part of the skills tree, its actual really fun and challenging.
- Early impressions gave us a glimpse of what appeared to be a graphically impressive environment. How have you found the visual aspect of the game so far?
Matt – Overall it’s impressive, although it’s not hard to spot the imperfections. Oddly low res textures are dotted throughout the game, plus the water texture is one of the worst I’ve seen in some time. The zombie characters are superbly put together though, and lopping a few limbs off them before slicing them through the waist or decapitating them will probably never get old.
Phil – The game looks really good. But to be honest stuff happens so fast most of the time I hardly noticed any flaws. But I’ve never been one to be over analyse graphics.
Neale – I agree with Phil. I think it looks good in my opinion. Strangely I think the low resolution textures add to the ‘grime’ of the apocalyptic city of Harran. Everything’s gone to shit. There no road cleaners out there, and if there are, they’ve been stripped of all possible weapon parts. Imagine trying to kill a zombie with those large circular brushes. I’m sure it wouldn’t harm the zombie at all, just give them a polish.
- Dying light’s main hook is the day/night cycle that changes your role from Hunter to Hunted as night falls, and the more active Volatile zombie type emerges. whats your impression of the gameplay switch?
Matt – As Phil and Derek can attest to, it’d be fair to say that I don’t handle the night sections well. The Volatiles, superfast and deadly zombies, come out to play when the sun sets, and their arrival marks me turning into a panicky mess. During our first cooperative foray out during night time, I became so nervous I shouted, (and I mean actually shouted), at the other three to ‘stop dicking around’. Further proof, if any was needed, that me and scary games don’t mix.
Phil – Holy crap! Best thing about the game. The first time it happened I almost felt the shit run down my leg. Absolutely terrifying.
Neale – Its nerve shredding stuff. The game forces you into the night time scenario quite early on, and it feels intense. It’s quite a feat for the game developers to change the game mechanic and style of the game with something so natural and normal as the passing of time. By that I mean, it’s an open world, fetch quest, zombie bashing game that turns into a creepy, hiding in bushes, jump scare game. Personally I’m always looking at Krane’s in-game watch. Night time starts about 8 or 9 at night. And unlike my real self; as Krane I’m in bed by 6 with my teeth brushed and my jim-jammies on.
- I personally set my game options to allow Be The Zombie invasions to occur at Night only. Have you experienced invasion and what are your thoughts?
Matt – I only turn on the invasion mode when I’m in a party, if I’m playing solo I don’t want to be distracted as I go through the campaign. On the few invasions I’ve experienced, they’re a fun addition to the game but I wouldn’t call it a selling point.
Phil - This only adds to the suspense. It is amazing fun and very intense, especially 1v1. On a negative though it feels a little disjointed as it rips you out of whatever you were doing at the time. Would be nice if you just had a sort of deathmatch as the game continued rather than destroying the nests.
Neale – Its a clever add-on in my opinion. It has a feel of Evolves’ Four versus One. I’ve only had one experience so far. I was with a few of the community playing normal four player coop (which is great fun by the way), and then suddenly Phil is there. Jumping out from around a corner and shitting me up massively. Great fun and terrifying to boot.
- Like its predecessor, The co-op is based on a drop in, drop out system which worked really well with Dead Island once it got its feet. How do you feel Dying light compares?
Matt – I can’t really remember Dead Island so I can’t compare directly, but coop is my preferred way to play games these days, so I’m glad the system is in place and I’ve played most of the story line in a party with others. One disappointment is the lack of character customization, as every multiplayer character will have the same facial features. I would have quite liked a ‘create a character’ system added to combat this.
Phil – It’s great fun to go zombie bashing with your friends, but it’s only based on the main storyline so you all play as crane. Annoyingly, you all have to be next to each other to progress in the story when interacting with people and objects, though there is a teleport to friends option available.
Neale – I agree with Phil; how can kicking ten bales of shit of the Undead with your mates not be fun?! Dead Island was good, but for me it never quite got it right. The learning curve was so intense that after one session with friends completing normal quests, it left me completely out in the cold when I start that same save game on my own later. From my experiences with Dying Light so far this isn’t the case.
- Dying light seems to take a lot of cues from open world games. (random events, collectables, base captures, lockpicking mini games). How do you feel these contribute to the game overall?
Matt – ‘Taking cues’ is a bit of an understatement, that lockpicking is wholesale lifted right out of Skyrim! Joking aside, I think they help to flesh out the game and the base captures are actually genuinely useful. Having a safe area to dart into during the night sections can be the difference between life and having your face eaten off by a peckish zombie. I’m a bit more ambivalent towards the random events, they feel like a bit of a “Should I or shouldn’t I?” distraction to me.
Phil - it’s kinda to be expected in open world games, but I like it. It makes the feeling of being a survivor/scavenger all that more realistic as it just adds a little more to the experience, giving you the feeling that your character is actually making a difference.
Neale – I’m not a fan of comparing new games to other successful games. I like what Techland have done with this game. They came close to the mark with Dead Island and they’ve almost hit the bullseye with Dying Light. All the random events pay out either a decent amount of money, XP or weapon mods. Collecting weapon mods is awesome – I spent 30 minutes and seven attempts to climb the large bridges cable wires to reach the top. All that to collect a mod called Surprise MFs!! This is great! But after all that I’ve since seen a video that show how you climb up the concrete section rather than balancing like a tightrope walker on those chuffing cables.
Lock picking takes me back to Fallout 3 and Skyrim – those heady days! I have to admit I’m also a fan of the companion app in which you recruit and send your scouts out around the city on mini-missions, collecting items that you can send through magic of the internet, to your Quartermaster in game! I tell you, there is a gratifying feeling being sat on the toilet at work, whilst being paid, and sending you mini scouts to collect medi-packs etc. Awesome stuff.
- If you had to sum up Dying light in 3 words, what would they be?
Matt – just keep running
Phil – Play this game.
Neale – “Street Cleaner Zombie”.. No no, I mean: “Addictive Zombie Romp”.
- Last but not least, Buy/Rent/Avoid
Matt – Buy
Phil - Buy
Neale – Buy ( in fact double dip).
For the community’s part, its a unanimous decision of buy it now.
In my own opinion, Techland have competently weaved gameplay elements from influential titles around the core levelling, crafting and combat systems they established in Dead Island in an attempt to make it greater than the sum of its parts, and to that end they have come extremely close to succeeding. Movement feels as fluid and, if you are that way inclined, Nausea-inducing as the superlative Mirrors edge, without the linearity of the afore mentioned title.
At the end of the day what gets me is the little touches that add the tension to this game. The way that if biters are nearby your hands shake as you attempt to gain access to a valuable lock-box or police van. The fact they can still attack you even when you attempt this made my heart race as pick after pick broke when my nerves got the better of me. The simple mechanic of slowing down time when you look over your shoulder seems to give the chase added impact at night as you are given ample time to assess how many volatiles currently have your scent.
Techland have crafted a zombie game that balances the right amount of tension and fear against a movement and combat system to create an experience that simultaneously makes you feel vulnerable and powerful.
|The Good||The Bad|
| Fluid, competent movement
Plenty of atmosphere
Varied crafting system
Fantastic Day/Night cycle
Drop In/Drop out co-op
Some texture inconsistencies
MLG Rating: 7.5/10 Format: PS4/XboxOne/PC Release Date: 28/01/2015
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Dying Light by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 1 week on a PS4. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.