Humdrum zom- yomp
Release Date: OUT NOW! Format: Xbox One ( also available on PC, PS4) Publisher: Warner Interactive
Dying Light is a game about zombies. The core parts of Dead Island, developer Techland’s other undead franchise, are apparent in its attempt at survival horror, its XP- fuelled skill trees and all them zombies. But there’s more: it’s got Assassin’s Creed’s rooftop- clambering and Eagle Vision, Skyrim’s weedharvesting and lockpicking, Sniper Elite’s slow- motion damage porn and Far Cry’s… well, Far Cry’s everything else.
The first- person parkour, which is the central hook – other than zombies – sees Techland bite off more than it can chew. It works on a technical level, but it’s slow and the lack of obvious racing lines means you rarely hit full flow. It’s quite handy that the protagonist, Kyle Crane, perfects the art of parkour not 20 minutes after his first go, but this is typical of Dying Light’s lazy reliance on tropes. Almost every character in the game falls into the category of “gruff man who has a dark secret”, “lady who doesn’t want to deal with your BS” or “guy who desperately needs supplies that can be found in the bin outside his house”. Even Crane’s boss is totally, obviously evil, forcing him to enable some grim human trafficking just a scant few hours into the story.
Then there’s the inconsistency. The survivors – people with military gear, training and guns – ought to be as willing to help out as the T- shirt- wearing “noob” ( that’s you), but no. They sit inside, static except for occasionally asking you to go and rescue things they left behind. Small glimpses of fun – such as signs for “Left 4 Bread” and “Bites Motel” – are enough to make you wish that the game had more of a sense of humour about itself, rather than buildings full of AIs that only differ from zombies in their propensity to dole out fetch quests and a protagonist whose primary weakness is that he “cares too much about people”. Apparently not enough to stop murdering people for their flares, though.
Dying Light is a vast improvement on the broken Dead Island – indeed, if you managed to eke fun from that technical shambles, you’ll be in heaven here. But with no real ideas of its own, it borrows heavily from other titles without ever realising that a successful game is not the sum of its mechanics. You’ll be able to fill many mindless hours, sure, but it certainly doesn’t have the brains to be a great zombie FPS. Kate Gray Dying Light’s night lasts just seven minutes. Why? “I’ve seen a grown man cry during the night,” says lead designer Maciej Binkovski…
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