Return of the Living Dead
I would classify myself as a bonified zombie nerd. Lust for brains, torn off limbs and noises that will make the hairs on your arm raise like little soldiers is what gets my attention. Often times, you’ll find me filling up my late evenings searching the annals of Netflix for the slightest hint of flesh eating goodness. I read zombie novels, I watch zombie movies, hell I even have a zombie outbreak survival strategy (get to highest point, with machetes of course, and pray zombie doesn’t get in your mouth or eyes) but it’s been a long time since I’ve played a zombie game. More specifically a good zombie game. Video games have evolved over the years, allowing for people to live out their craziest ideas but this particular genre has done a horrid job at entertaining the undead enthusiast.
In recent memory, I’ve seen games such as Resident Evil, Dead Rising and Dead Island try to capture the fear and chaos that comes with a viral outbreak. However, few have had the mechanics and characters to sustain a full length game about zombies and make it playable. Resident Evil has been the go to for survival horror and the zombie genre since 1997 but in recent years, Capcom has steered away from the T-virus and mutated into a whole new kind of monster. No longer can you be surrounded by a hoard of slow moving cold bodies. Now Resident Evil is a shell of the former franchise it used to be and is filled with secret agents and parasites. Sadly, that is not what most people want, myself included. The zombies I like are the slow, dumb, sludge-like creatures that George A. Romero would be proud to call his own. Rick Grimes would call them “Walkers” but I would call them the living dead. It wasn’t until I bought the new Techland/WB zombie hit, Dying Light, that my faith was restored in the zombie genre.
Triple agent, Kyle Crane, finds himself air dropped into the fictional city of Harran in the midst of a global crisis. He‘s immediately immersed into conflict, fighting bandits and zombies alike. While the conflict goes on, Crane is ambushed and bitten by one of the undead, and if you know anything about zombie law, you know you can’t get bit. Crane receives help from a male and female duo who lead you through the city, fighting off waves of zombies and climbing buildings like a squirrel on crack.
With that said, the beginning mechanics of this game seem clunky and unpolished but that’s only because the developers want it to be that way. As time progresses and you divulge deeper into the game, your skills increase and eventually you’re climbing over the top of zombies and grappling to the nearest rooftop. Jumping across rooftops can be a challenge at first and even frustrating as you book it away from hoards but it gets better as time goes on. Parkour skills are not the only thing that starts off clunky and gets dramatically better, fighting in this game is fun and almost addicting.
Beginning with weapons such as hammers and two by fours, Crane seems almost helpless and terrified of the hoards in the streets. However, as you level up, weapons appear that would make MacGyver proud. The ability to add perks to your weapon becomes essential as the game progresses, perks like fire, electricity and acid help you smash and slice through the undead like Ash from Evil Dead. However, using your favorite weapon can easily come to an end as weapons can quickly break down and most weapons only have a few fixes. With that said, using weapons isn’t the only aspect to the combat that is enjoyable; introducing “the dropkick”. My personal favorite, the dropkick, is eventually added to your arsenal of moves and my god is it a thing of glory. Running up to an infected, jumping in the air and laying out like Jean Claude Van Dam only to see a zombie fly off a building as a result is something I’ve wanted to do forever. Now I can.
Without giving too much away, this game does a fantastic job at bringing you into the story with the main quest and side missions. With enough content to fill up 40+ hours, it’s never a dull moment in Harran. Battling clear bad guys and not so clear allies, you find yourself in a three-way of choices and slowly you begin to see who you want Crane to become, on top of fighting off hundreds of the undead. Missions vary throughout and depend on the characters who give you the mission (See Ghazi) but most missions are different enough to not feel repetitive or boring. The environments are huge, as this is an open world game, and it expands as you play through the game. Graphically, the game is impressive. From the blood that shoots out after a solid head smashing to the shadows that are casted from flashlights, Techland did a great job polishing this game to the AAA title that was expected.
So now the question is; should you buy Dying Light? I can whole heartedly say that as a zombie fanatic and an avid gamer that this game is for everyone who enjoys a fast paced, frightening experience as well as a great storyline and amazing gameplay. With a rise in interest in the zombie universe, this is a game that delivers the whole package. I mean come on, at this point I would say that it is a no brainer.
- Great Gameplay and Storyline
- Amazing graphics
- High replay ability
- Addicting combat system
- Parkour system can be clunky and difficult at times
- A.I. isn’t as smart as you might want
Publisher(s) Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: January 27th, 2015
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC