Initial Reaction: Dying Light - Parkour Simulator 2015

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of snagging myself a copy of the new zombie-infested action game Dying Light.  I know what you’re thinking, “Another zombie game by Techland?” Yes, yes it is. The last time we got this was Dead Island: Riptide, which was am unpolished mess. This game feels very different, though, from the very start.

Dying Light takes place in Harran, Turkey, as you’re trying to find a man who has some “trade secrets” from the government organization that you work for. It’s a more interesting take than the trope of “Hey, there’s a zombie outbreak….survive!” That’s still there, but Dying Light takes it into a different direction. There are a lot of cool scenes of you working for both the people who save your life in the opening moments of the game and the government that gave you your mission. This leads to a lot of decisions being made by your organization that you don’t think are right but, like any soldier, you do them anyway. In this, I wish I had a choice. I wish I could defy those who employ me and I could make some decisions to help the people stuck in Harran. In the first few hours, there are no real choices. I hope that changes later on, but not sure that it will.

The first think I noticed about the game is just how damn good it look. It’s a pretty game and looks amazing on PlayStation 4. I caught myself looking out of the window in the Tower (where you start the game) and just being amazed by how real it looks. Playing more of the game, it’s not just about how real it looks but also how real it feels. This world feels like it’s a living world, a world that has gone to hell. You’ll meet random people in the city who just sit there and talk to you. They’ll just have something to say and sometimes you’ll feel bad for them based on their experiences. When you return to the Tower, you’ll have several people you can chat with that have new conversations based on what you just did. It’s nothing important, but very immersive. I really liked that a lot. Sometimes, it’s the little things that make the difference.

So let’s get to the meat and potatoes. Dying Light is more of a survival game than a “mow over zombies” game. If you see more than a couple zombies, you’re going to want to run. Actually, if you see only two zombies you might also want to run. These zombies are tough and they’re unforgiving. You’ll find out why the tutorial shows you more about how to parkour through the environment than about combat. A lot of times you just need to run like hell. The parkour aspect is well done and a lot of fun. You can climb up almost anything, and completely immerses you in the world. The danger feels real and that can’t be said about a lot of games. There is this one moment early on where you open a gate so you can turn on power to one of the safe zones (areas where you can sleep and rest throughout the city.) Once you open the gate, a hulking monster has a huge sledgehammer type of weapon and it’s “game on.” Traditionally, you would try to destroy this dude but I quickly realized that was NOT happening. I got to the point where I ran into the building for the mission and completed it and then got out of Dodge. The tension is constantly there in this game, because you KNOW that you can’t fight your way out of most situations. You have to be fast and use your brain.  

I’m really enjoying the game so far, despite it making me nervous as hell when I play it. Some of the best games can tap into your emotions though, right? It also seems like a polished experience compared to the Dead Island series. We’ll see where it goes from here but you can expect some sort of review in the next few weeks.