A little over a quarter of the way through the year, game of the year is far from my mind, but one of the better games to come out this early was Dying light. Games coming out in Q1 (Quarter 1) are rarely all that exciting, everything is usually saved until November on. But more and more recently, (mostly because of delays,) games are being spread around the calendar. This works out the best for everyone involved a game like Dying light certainly would’ve been buried by FarCry, Call of Duty and Dragon age. Not necessarily because those games are better but simply because there is too much to play and then it would’ve been sitting in my backlog for a while.
I had absolutely zero expectation when it came to Dying light, every time I saw it I figured it was a brown version of dead island, and I was not a big fan of dead island, my play through of that ended with a game breaking bug. But the studio Techland seems to have learned from a lot of its mistakes, the moment you pick up the controller you’re jumping out of a airplane and attacked by zombies, pretty great start to a game, and once you get into the open world game play its a bit jarring because the controls aren’t necessarily what you’d expect R1 (PS4) to jump is weird at first but you eventually get used to its oddness. The crafting is simple but well done and the stamina bar adds some tension so you cant just jump into the middle of a hoard of zombies and chop them to bits. Another awesome tactic is the fact that when you first start the game you should or at least I did stay away from zombies because your weapons suck and you suck at hitting them. It takes six or seven hits to take basic zombies down.
That’s also why being out at night is freaking terrifying early on. Yeah eventually I got to the point where my electrified machete would slice and dice anybody that came near me, but early on I was left outside far away from a safe house with my simple crowbar to protect me, suffice it to say that night did not end well for me. The open world is absolutely beautiful for being a slum. In fact both areas of the map, the slum and the richy rich area are very well done, personally I preferred the slums to jump around in.
the characters and story are a bit of a mixed bag, I enjoy all of the characters put to you but they don’t stick around long if you know what I mean, and some of them have better endings than others. The side missions are fun little one shots that extraneously tie into an overall plot but one thing I was surprised about was how much my main character ‘Crane’ actually cared bout what was going on around him, he seemed to really be bothered b the big brother government corporation and truly feel sad when a friend died, its wonderfully voice acted by Roger Craig Smith. Most first person action open world games have a hard time nailing a tone and a structure for a main character to live in and Dying light does a surprisingly good job at shaping Crane in a zombie filled wasteland.
Among all this praise are the obvious video game gripes, the bad guy is formulaic crazy, and his goons are blindly following him for some reason, I’m not sure why because he seems awful. The types of zombies at some point became a bit annoying, I love the shambling ones, and the really fast ones, the night zombies are terrifying, but every other one felt extraneous and only there to pad the gameplay, The last of us (Drink, another Naughty dog reference) had a sweet spot because they didn’t introduce to many different kinds of zombies, their were three and that was it. And it worked, in this game you have fast zombies, spitting zombies, two different tank zombies, slow zombies, fast zombies, and blister zombies. I’m all for diverse villains, but at some point your open world is filled to the brim with an ecosystem of different kinds of zombies.
A beautiful open world, a simple an awesome crafting system, and some great voice acting, lift this game up to be more than I thought it would be. The parkour, which I didn’t talk about much even though its a big part of the game, works pretty well. There were a few times I would get stuck in the middle of a hungry mob and couldn’t jump out but such is the life of a parkour instructor in the zombie apocalypse. Early in the year when the order disappointed and I’m probably not a fan of constantly dying in Bloodborne (but who knows I my love that game when I play it.) Dying light fills this hole that soon the Witcher and Batman will fill months from now.