‘Dying Light’ puts refreshing twist on zombie gaming

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Laudy Issa
Staff Writer

The only way to survive in Harran, a quarantined city infected by a virus that turns those who comes across it into zombie-like creatures, is through killing the hordes of infected humans or outrunning them.

Neither of those sounds easy, but Techland’s “Dying Light” is not your classic zombie game, and Kyle Crane is not your average protagonist; he’s an undercover operative sent into the city to track down a rogue agent and retrieve government intel. Also, he just so happens to be a parkour ninja.
This first-person action-survival game is definitely a breath of fresh air for anyone looking for a bit of fun.

Perhaps my favorite element of this unique game is the intriguing day/night cycle, and how everything differs depending on the time. Gamers have to make use of every bit of daytime they can get as they leap across rooftops and balance along edges in search for supplies and tools to craft weapons with.
“Dying Light” gives players a sense of ultimate control, and lets them get around the open world metropolis quickly and quietly. You can’t just hold down the controller and assume Crane will make the jump though; a sense of spatial awareness is definitely needed, as one wrong move will get the player killed.

When the sun goes down and darkness covers Haran, the creatures that lurk in the shadows are suddenly stronger and more violent, and tensions rise as players try to evade them and get to a zombie-free safe house, though staying out at night is equally an opportunity to gain massive experience points and a danger unlike any other.

From dramatic slow-motion kills that call for a self-high-five to vaulting across their shoulders, Crane develops skills that allow him to handle the infected with ease, all the while gaining experience points. “Dying Light” plays nicely, and racing across the city is smooth and fluid, especially later on in the game when players become familiar with the controls, despite being a bit counter intuitively mapped.
Combat, with options like grappling, ramming, and even kicking your opponent, has to be played smart, as jumping face-first into a mass of zombies is a sure way of getting yourself killed. When facing multiple enemies, it is best to retreat, even after unlocking all the equipment and upgrading all weapons with elements like fire or electricity. Basically, you have to fight wisely or die.

The game has to be entertaining, especially with how large and immersive the open world is. I found myself enjoying the strange side objectives more than the actual storyline because all mission structures are repetitive. Though fun, they remain unimpressive, especially with the lack of surprise twists and turns in the storyline.

Everything is pretty straightforward, leaving the characters of “Dying Light” underdeveloped and its villains cliché. Crane ends up an errand boy for survivors and factions in the city, whether he’s after food supply air drops or fighting his way through the hordes of zombies to find Antizen, which is the medication that holds back the inevitable transformation once bitten. He even jokes about it to himself in the story, highlighting the game’s biggest flaw: how monotonous and beneath him these missions are.

Particularly noteworthy is the level of detail in the environment. Players might spend half their time looking at the beauty of Harran from every angle and vantage point. While single-player is a blast, “Dying Light” is even more enjoyable with friends helping you carve through the infected or when a random player invades your world through the “Be the Zombie” mode as a super-powered monster.

I took up Techland’s “Dying Light” to see if a zombie game could ever match the masterpiece that is “The Last of Us.” And while it does not trump it, the sheer amount of freedom that it offers is gratifying. “Dying Light” is a very different shade of fun than your classic zombie game, mixing parkour with zombie destruction fantastically and succeeding at providing a memorable gaming experience.

Photo source: alphacoders.com

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