Dying Light is the latest zombie-plagued open-world by Techland.
ying Light is what Dead Island should have been; an highly polished sandbox , combined with fluid mechanics. Dead Island was by no means tragic, but it's lack of polish let it down. Dying Light, on the other hand, is Techland's most beautifully crafted zombie outing to date. There's certainly a lot of similarities to Dead Island here. For instance, the crafting mechanic and stamina bar are pretty much a copy and paste job. Yet, none of Dying Light's aspects seem half-baked. It seems to take everything that worked well in Dead Island, polishes them up, as well as introducing some new additions.
The Parkour mechanic is one of Dying Light's most appealing aspects. The ability to free-run across building tops is a refreshing change to the zombie formula. It's incredibly responsive and fluid too, which makes traversing a pure joy. I was always enticed to head to higher grounds, as the infected can be extremely fast and deadly. If caught by one, or surrounded by a horde, you can die within seconds. I found some of Dying Light's most joyful moments happening above ground. Kicking infected off a high building, for example, never looses amusement. I would knock them off the edge, then simply watch as they plummet to the ground.
It's the close encounters with the undead were Dying Light's most thrilling and intense moments occur. Same as Dead Island, Dying Light's combat is primarily tailored around melee. To defend yourself, you must equip various weapons, such as wooden planks, crowbars, metal pipes, and so forth. Over time, weapons will break with excessive use, requiring you to repair them. Not only does it add some challenge to the mix, it gives you a great incentive to scavenge the world for resources. Whether it's pick-locking safes, opening cupboards, or searching through litter bins.
You can also craft weapon upgrades with various resources, providing greater damage to your foes. For example, you may attach electricity to an sword, or nails to a wooden bat. It's fun to discover new ways of killing, and it makes scouting the environments seem worth while. Every kill and completed mission earns you experience points. These can then be spent from a skill-tree in three set areas; Survivor, Agility and power. There's a nice array of upgrades. Whether it's increasing stamina, been able to drop kick foes, or the ability to leap over their heads. It's a well-implemented system, and one that offers a sense of progression as you progress the story.
Talking of story, Dying Light narrative isn't that bad. It's not going to win any awards, but it's more than just cleaning up the infected. You take the role of Crane, a man trapped in the middle of an academic - a viral infection that has spread across Harran. Whilst fighting for your own survival, you'll be introduced to a variety of characters along the way. You'll help various survivors, as well as working for a Shadow organization. I found it enjoyable to follow, but the cast is rather forgettable. You never come attached to them enough to make you care for them. It's not get the emotional impact of say, Telltale's Walking Dead. Still, it does the job and keeps you entertained throughout.
The addition of a day-and-night cycle can dramatically change how you play. In the day, you'll be enticed to keep above ground, running across rooftops and examining your surroundings. When the sun goes down, however, everything turns more stealth oriented. Equipped with a torch and UAV light, you'll be sneaking past infected hordes, trying not to attract them. Some of the most dangerous infected comes out of night, too. One, in particular, can leap and climb buildings, which can lead into an intense sprint for survival. You'll be enticed to avoid all infected at night, mostly due to how much damage they can absorb. Unlike Dead Island, it takes far more hits to kill them. Going out in the dark may sound stupid, but killing infected at night earns you double the reward for day. It's a smart decision, which encourages you to spend time in darkness.
The missions tend to follow a familiar suite. You'll go talk to someone, then go off and complete their needs. Whether it's finding an item, saving someone, or clearing out an area. They become repetitive after a while, and it's probably Dying Light's weakest aspect. Still, there's plenty to do, with the addition of four-player co-op.
Visually, Dying Light looks beautiful most of the time. There's some incredibly sharp terrain, lighting and particles effects. The zombies are modeled extremely well too, but less so on the humans. It's a great leap from Dead Island's visuals, as you'd expect with the new console hardware. I was pleased with how good it looked, but the Xbox One version does contain slight frame rate drops and screen-tearing from time to time.
Overall, Dying Light is a far more polished experience than the Dead Island series. The parkour mechanic is a refreshing change, offering something new and invigorating to the open-world zombie formula.