Dying Light Review (PS4)
Oh no, the zombies are learning how to dodge!
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
It seems that lately I’ve been wanting to play old games that I loved as a kid (which may or may not be because I know I have a whole game backlog to deal with) and games that I remember seeing in stores and wanting, but couldn’t afford it at that time. And of course, you think “surely next time” and before you know it, it’s gone. One of the games I had a passing fancy to play was Dead Island, which I didn’t really end up playing, or at least only goofed off in the beginning section after renting it for a day. I also wanted to play Dying Light when it came out, but never got it either. Well, guess which of the two I recently picked up?
Granted, Dying Light was not constantly in my mind as I forgot all about it. That is, until I heard about the sequel. It reminded me about Dying Light, making me wonder if it actually was a good game and enjoyable. It came at the perfect time when only the Platinum Edition was on sale (and it was so weird that the Platinum Edition wasn’t as well). After a watching a video it looked fun, plus I’m sure it also helped the video was praising the game too, so I picked it up before the sale ended. And set out to finish it before the sequel came out. While I didn’t quite finish it to get this review out last week like I originally wanted, it’s ready to share my feelings on Dying Light now.
An aspect that I saw talking about that was Dying Light’s only weakness was its story. Honestly, I thought it was pretty okay. It could have been better, but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be based on what I heard. Anyway, so what is the story in Dying Light? You play as Kyle Crane who is a part of the GRE (or Global Relief Effort). Sometime before the game started, the city Harran has gotten a nasty outbreak, dubbed as the Harran Virus, that causes those infected to effectively become zombies. Crane is sent to Harran as an undercover GRE operative to find someone named Suleiman and retrieve a file that he stole. You’re told that it contains an incomplete cure for the Harran Virus and if Suleiman publicizes it, it will prove to be deadly due to it not being, well, complete. So Crane parachutes into the quarantined Harran and… has a not so ideal landing. Having three people from Rais’ gang beat the hell out of him before he draws zombies (which come on, a one of them should have tried kicking the gun out of his hand), which then leads to Crane himself getting bit and infected. Luckily, he isn’t killed as those from the other faction comes to his rescue, the Runners who mainly reside in The Tower, but that also causes one of them to die to save his life.
Okay, there’s good news and bad news. Bad news, you’re now infected, indebted to The Runners, and what the GRE will call for Crane to do (and the ensuing revelation he will have as well) later on is not going to be pretty. Good news, there is a lot of good news. It takes you a while to actually turn into a zombie, with clear and obvious symptoms, and the Antizin that regularly gets dropped are to suppress those symptoms. You also won’t immediately get kicked out of The Tower and you’ll learn how to parkour from Rahim (aka my favorite character). So you’ll help out and make connections with the survivors in The Tower, try to not get overwhelmed (and killed) by zombies, navigate around Rais, and do some sick parkour moves.
Alongside the story, there are also side quests that you can (and should) do. There is a good amount of side quests here and they are unlocked based on where you’re at in the story. Side quests in open worlds have a bad reputation as now, but it’s a different story for Dying Light. While you can just boil it down to you just gathering items or killing zombies (and there are certainly quests where you just do that), I absolutely loved them and they are definitely one of the highlights. You’ll be meeting and talking with these (mostly) one-off characters and the small story tied to their quest(s) are genuinely so interesting. So much so that I ended up not doing side quests for the XP, but for the interesting characters and story. They did a really good job with the side quests.
I would also recommend doing side quests as they appear. Not only will this lessen how many you’ll be doing in a row later on, but they do give a lot of Survivor XP (and other rewards) which can be a huge help (not to mention the XP you get just by playing). While you do stay in The Slums for half the game, the zombies in Old Town are another beast.
Now for the reason you’re really playing Dying Light, the gameplay. Let’s be honest, the vast majority of those that played Dying Light, or considering playing it, isn’t because of the story. It’s 99% because of the parkour (and like 1% zombies). You soon get taught the basics by Rahim after you first wake up and you’ll be using it a lot here. You see, zombies are everywhere (obvious, I know) and while the majority of them are the basic zombies, you can easily get overwhelmed as just fighting them can draw more in due to the noise you’re making. Not to mention the other deadly zombie types that you’ll have to deal with like the fast Virals or the acid spitting Toads. SO you’ll be using your newly learned parkour skills to keep yourself out of their reach (hopefully) and a way to travel through Harran. Parkouring through The Slums and Old Town is so fun as you can climb and jump and damn near everything while moving fast most of the time (as there will be times where you’ll be going slow in particular tricky climbs or when learning a new area). Dying Light really nails the feeling of moving fast, feeling the panic as you’re running away from zombies you can’t deal with right now, the fear of not making a platform or handhold but you took the chance anyway, the elation of when you make those jumps, that exhilarating feeling of jumping into garbage bags or diving into bodies of water, the excitement of using grappling hooks or going down ziplines, and the pain of failing your safe landing or dying.
I also like how the skill trees were handled as a lot of them will be useful to you (and well, all of them are but we won’t end up using all of them anyway). You have the three main skill trees: Survivor, Agility, and Power. You really just get EXP in each skill tree by just playing the game. You can get Agility EXP as you’re traveling around Harran or doing parkour challenges; Power EXP by fighting and doing strength challenges; and Survivor EXP by surviving, completing quests, delivering D.R.O.P.S, and helping other survivors. Although, you can lose Survivor EXP by dying (which… yah makes sense). All of these are things that you’ll be doing anyway, so when you get a level up, it does really feel that Crane is getting better at these things. On level ups you’ll get a point to spend on various skills that will be useful. Like getting a grappling hook, unlocking blueprints, getting more effective at crafting and bartering, getting more health and stamina, and learning moves like the drop kick. These will especially be good when going out during the night since Harran becomes more dangerous with Volatiles coming out, more zombies, and special night-only zombies crawl out; though you do get an EXP boost and you won’t lose Survivor EXP when you die.
Oh, and it also has to mention that this does have co-op, where you can play the vast majority of the game with a friend if you want to or simply have someone random join. I can’t really talk about this since I have no friends on Playstation (*sobs*), but this would definitely be a fun game to play through with a friend.
I’d say the only negative aspect of Dying Light is the final confrontation. I actually do like the lead up to it (and how you start and end your journey by parkouring on a crane), but the actual fight is disappointing. It’s a shame, but Dying Light is amazing otherwise.
Before going in, I thought I would enjoy it but I was still hesitant as I did recently have games I thought I would enjoy, but then didn’t. Dying Light can be rough in the beginning with Crane being a parkour baby with baby lungs, but once you and Crane gets more experience, it gets so fun. It’s so fun running around Harran, using parkour to travel around, and looking forward to specific skills (grappling hook in particular). Not to mention the side quests being superb, making it up for the story just being fine. If you haven’t played Dying Light yet, I will confirm it is as amazing as others make it out to be. Just make sure you at least pick up The Following DLC (PS4 owners have no choice in the matter, but still) as it’s not only the best DLC, but also story related.
I really loved Dying Light and I’m glad I finally played it.
With how much I ended up loving Dying Light combined with the footage I saw from Dying Light 2 looking like they improved on certain aspects and it looks just as (if not more) fun, I can’t wait until I can. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to just yet, but I do want to pick it up and play it before the year ends.