Dying Light – First Impressions

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TLDR;

Dying Light came out yesterday after much anticipation and I was not disappointed. After making it through the first few missions I can report that the game is very fun and looks great with a good story to boot.

PROs

Great Graphics

Immersive Environment

Parkour is very Fluid

Story is engaging

CONs

Game takes over too much in the beginning

2 months doesn’t seem long enough to have built everything

The accents get a little hokey after a while

The Story

You play an agent named Kyle Crane who is tasked with finding Kadir Suleiman, a politician who was killed after stealing information about a failed vaccine. When you land you are jumped by bandits then bitten by a zombie and then wake up in the Tower, a last bastion for some survivors with a lot of structure and plenty of people to help. There is a hidden agenda on your part, but it also looks like there will be some conflict and choices as to whom you can trust.

Overall the story is engaging with a few gamey things at the beginning to get you trained on parkour and to explain why there are missions and people in charge, etc. The characters are engaging and don’t feel like quest givers. Even when they are just standing around at quest points, they have believable business and look like they belong there. The lore is dispensed in small bites so you are no digesting a whole history at the beginning. My only gripe is that sometimes the game takes over control when it has important story points to tell you. IMHO this breaks immersion.

The Zombies

The main zombies in the game are shufflers. They don’t seem to be very dangerous by themselves, but there are a lot of them. There are also some special zombies. I have so far run up against what looks like the equivalent of a Thug in Dead Island, except he has a giant sledgehammer. I have so far tried to avoid those as I am not powerful and my main weapon just broke. Noise definitely attracts them so it is important to be quiet. You can run through groups of them and they do not seem to grab your legs when you are jumping on ledges and walls. Their overall appearance is creepy; and there seems to be a good variety of them, although I have seen the nurse a few too many times.

Graphics and Environment

The overall world is very well crafted and seems like a real place. One has to employ a healthy suspension of disbelief, though, to go along with the fact that all of the added scaffolds and traps, survivor culture, and hierarchy was all crafted and maintained in 2 months. It seems more like two years would necessary for all of that to be created. The exteriors are dynamic and have moving objects and look very weathered in some areas. The parkour elements are blended in nicely and do no look like a platforming add on to a Zombie game. Interior rooms look lived in or died in as the case may be. The lighting is simply gorgeous and the faces to not seem to exist in the Uncanny Valley. Also, the general background business by all of the characters looks believable and natural. The kids area of the Tower is especially creepy.

Gameplay

The overall gameplay is very fluid and the parkour elements are seamless. If you have played Assassins Creed then you already have the general sensibility in place to navigate the world by climbing anything an everything. The difference here is that first person mode takes a little getting used to since it is a little hard to see where you are in relation to other things. Once you have that down it is just a matter of finding the varying paths to your goal while avoiding the Zombies that litter the street.

After the prologue there are a lot of missions available right away and they fit into the story very well. There are a bunch of standard zombie game missions like turn on switches, set traps, rescue so and so (unless they turned), and various story moving events. I generally try to get all missions available when I am in an area so I don’t miss anything.

The crafting system is a relief from the Dead Island series. No longer are you wondering why there are so many workbenches around since you can craft anything once you have a blueprint and available parts. The game also tells you when you can craft a new item. The loot also seems to be in more natural places. The only unrealistic thing is that the Zombies are all carrying cash. No one carries cash anymore.

The skill system carries on from Dead Island : Riptide in that you have a lot of skills to choose from. In this game they are broken down into three categories ; Survival, Agility, and Power. You gain points separately  as you perform tasks and then spend them separately. There are clear choices to be made such as carrying capacity vs. crafting ability.

Nighttime is very scary and challenging. It is dark and confusing and even your survival sense doesn’t help much when you are spastically running for safety. In the video below I ended up in the back of a bus and got killed my a few volatiles. I was actually scared and confused when I was getting chased, it was very compelling gameplay.

 

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