When Dying Light first came out, it was all too easy to compare it to the other try-to-survive-while-scavenging zombie games out there (particularly, DayZ). And that actually feels true for the first few time you try the game. Harran is a large city full of salvageable crap and dangerous zombies, and you can find yourself wasting plenty of time in the first few runs. This however, changes with a bit of familiarity and growth within the game, and once you finally understand the true gameplay that this title delivers, you will know what makes it different from all the other games out there.
What is Dying Light?
Dying Light is an open world, action-adventure game with zombies. Players take control of man named Kyle Crane, an agent who is sent on a mission the quarantined city of Harran in Turkey. The missions requires Crane to find a man named Rais Suleiman who is hiding somewhere in Harran.
While the narrative does push players towards fulfilling his character’s mission, you will also encounter a lot of other survivors in the city, and it is up to you whether you will help them or not. If you do decide to pursue the storyline, it sends Crane on massive citywide hunt where he ends up uncovering a lot more than just a crazy politican with secrets. He also learns more about the zombie virus itself. The player’s main goal is to successfully complete Crane’s mission while finding a way to survive against the zombies.
At first appears, it will appear that the game focuses mostly on survival – escaping zombie attacks, hiding, scavenging. But as you slowly learn to adapt to the game’s combat system and control, you will earn experience points and skill points that will help your character grow. This system, combine with the player’s own growing familiarity with the game, allows Dying Light to finally shine after a few hours have been put into it. It may seem like a sluggish way to start, but it also makes exploring the big open world more satisfying.
Once you get the hang of the controls (which are pretty awkward at first, especially with jumping mapped to the shoulder buttons), huge buildings stop becoming things you have to get around of, they become things you can climb. Random zombies no longer become dangerous things to avoid on the streets, but potential targets for gaining combat experience points. Night-time no longer turns into an un-fun part of the game, it becomes the part where you get double experience points for anything you can do in the daytime.
This change in gameplay is pretty effective –as opposed to giving you all the powerups at the start. Learning to adapt to the world of Harran makes the experience of being part of the game world more palpable and more real. Plus, the actual skill you gain in mastering the controls is also important so it makes logical sense that the learning curve is there.
Bright and Beautiful
It is easy to feel like the closed off Harran is dark and oppressive when you first venture into it, but as the gameplay changes, so will your view of the world in it. The city is more than just huge, it is full of amazing detail and surprisingly, life. The details of the taller buildings paint a very distinct contrast to the various busy clusters of makeshift structures on the street level. Your ability to climb and scale obstacles will allow you to access and find amazing hiding spots and cozy locales.
Combat is also very dynamic and lively. There is a lot of focus on melee here and watching Crane make use of various makeshift weapons on zombies is a blast. And speaking of character animations, encountering other characters, watching the narrative unfold, and just watching your character skillfully scale their way up a wall is done in very lifelike manner.
Be Patient With It
With so many zombie survival games out there, it is so easy to try Dying Light for a couple of minutes and think that it is too slow or tedious to play. That would be a waste, because Dying Light is a well designed game that is actually worth the time to invest in. The storyline is compelling enough to follow and the characters you encounter are a good mix of entertaining and intriguing. The combat takes a while to master but it feels satisfying to successfully put down an entire horde of zombies with nothing more than items you pick up from the ground. And of course, the game world is huge and is fun to explore with all of its cleverly made urban-maze style routes and passages. If that was not enough, the game also has a multiplayer mode with both competitive and cooperative gameplay (the main story can also be played in multiplayer which is certainly a big draw for a lot of players).