Dying Light Review

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By James Leer

 

What happens when you fuse ‘Mirrors Edge’, ‘Dead Island’ and ‘Farcry’ together? We get a contrived yet pleasant game by the name of ‘Dying Light’ – a first person open world zombie survival game full of free-running and head stomping.dying-light-2

You play a faceless protagonist. A covert operative sent in to an infected city to retrieve an important document. The story in ‘Dying Light’ is flat, boring, and hits all the dull marks you expect it to. The characters are horribly plain, and go through the motions, the protagonist is even worse, responding to most situations with a kind of smarmy stupidity that left me feeling like I was the biggest asshole in the zombie apocalypse, until I met the human enemy, Rais. He chops off civilians’ arms.

Then you are released into the city and that’s where the fun starts. Now, free from the constraints of the story and terrible characters, you can run wild, leaping across rooftops, breaking down doors and violently bludgeoning zombie faces with steel pipes duck-taped with electrodes and nails sending them into smoky seizures and decapitated heaps before your nimble feet.

The two cities you are free to roam are large packed, giant skyscrapers, intimate shacks and long highways blue of ocean inlets. Broken down vehicles and flaming wreckages line the streets and alleys that bustle with infected playthings that both run and shamble.

There are other enemies too, with guns and knives that come at you in groups. You can kick their asses too.

The violence was almost shocking at first from the wet blood sounds as you carve into the digital flesh to the way your kick pops enemy heads like watermelons.

But thankfully there is a comedy to the violence that leaves you with a certain satisfaction as you push your way through crowds, impaling corpses on spike traps or just plain kicking dudes off ledges and watching them fall to their fate, plastered on the pavement several floors below.

The weapons, although I wish there were more variants, are fun and useful, playing off the ‘Dead Island’ system of crafting. You search your surroundings for useful items and mold them into whatever you can, an electrified knife, or a flaming bat with barbs. These weapons break after a certain amount of damage so you never get too attached to a particular killing tool, making scavenging and crafting fun and useful.

You can further upgrade your weapons making them faster, cause more damage or have more repairs. Fun for the whole family.

All your passive skills can be upgraded too with three separate skill trees to build up, from drop kicking enemies to traps, grenades, Molotov’s, shields, bombs, fireworks and more.

The more you parkour, the faster your free-running skills go up, the more you slash and cut the more your melee skills go vis-à-vis ‘Skyrim’.

During the day everything is fairly slow and shambles along, but when night falls everything changes – you have to sneak, jump bash and run for your life. At night there is a genuine sense of fear, the enemies are fiercer, stronger, and faster, not to mention the volatiles – they will cause you pain… lots of pain.

Once you get past the poor story and boring vanilla characters and are set loose on the city, ‘Dying Light’ is a fun silly, free-running romp, full of violence and weapons that will have you coming back just so you can kick another zombie in the watermelon or watch a group of them burn with a Molotov.

Perhaps it will be a sleeper hit. A hidden gem of 2015.

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