Review of Dying Light
A reanimation for the zombie genre.
I have a tendency to be reluctant to try new things. This feeling isn't helped when I have a 500 GB PS4 that makes me worry about how much space a game is going to fill instead of how much enjoyment I'm going to have with a game. When my brother recommended Dying Light to me, I reluctantly listened. I reluctantly researched the lowest prices on the game. I reluctantly went to GameStop to purchase my copy of Dying Light. I reluctantly inserted the disc into my console and let it update. I then exuberantly enjoyed every minute I invested into Dying Light.
Dying Light has players take control of Kyle Crane as he is dropped into the zombie-ridden city of Harran. Here, Crane will have to obtain a file that may just hold the cure to the virus that has infected millions for an organization called the GRE. At first, Crane's journey reeks of a cliché plot about a man who has to deal with espionage as he attempts to assimilate within multiple groups as he simultaneously works for a larger corporation. This feeling was frighteningly true within Dying Light's first few quests of turning on traps and fetching "important' items. Through these quests were openings to characters that were admittedly interesting, but again, felt like they were only going to end up bland and uninteresting. Letting Dying Light run its course for about two more hours, I was happily proven incorrect about the assumption of it containing these possible flaws.
The aforementioned groups Crane has to assimilate into hold arguably some of the best supporting characters seen in video games in recent years. The (main) supporting cast consists of Rahim, Jade, Brecken, and Dr. Zere. The character Jade is a strong female lead who has to overcome the past deaths of friends and family as well as the possibilty of present loved ones meeting their end. This makes the connection between characters such as Rahim and Jade even greater. Rahim is the brother of Jade who is always doing what he can to pull his own weight and simply prove himself to others. He's kind of like Takumi from Fire Emblem Fates, but MUCH less annoying. Brecken on the other hand is one who has proved himself to others. So much so that he became leader of the Tower, a safe haven where survivors of the Harran virus live. AKA, one of the areas you have to infiltrate and obtain information about in order to procure the file that could lead to a cure. Lastly, Dr. Zere is a character that appears the least out of the other three listed, but still manages to touch your heart none the less with his unparalleled kindness as he attempts to discover a cure to the virus.
The main villain of the game, Rais, is less appealing to the player than the rest of the cast. While he does cause the usual villainy mayhem bad-guys are known for, he still comes off as meh. This mehy (100 percent real word) villain constantly drives Crane to make his own decisions and create his own path through situations that only his messed up mind could concoct, yet he still falls short of leaving a lasting impact on the player. I guess every villain can't be Vaas Montenegro from Far Cry 3.
After the overly extensive prologue that introduces these amazing characters (except Rais) players are finally let loose to explore the city of Harran as they see fit. Blowing my expectations away, developer Techland added a colossal amount of side content for players to dig into. This includes a wealth of fantastic side quests that can be found in many safe zones (places like the Tower where players can go to to evade the more aggressive zombies that come out at night). Safe zones can also be secured, similar to how Far Cry allows players to raid various bases. Since these side activities are ones players are actually introduced to, they are the ones I am willing to mention. But, I don't want to spoil anymore about this area of the game as there is so much to do that will feel a lot more enjoyable if they are discovered by player's themselves. Wait, I will mention one other thing... you can play as a zombie.
In Be the Zombie mode, players can either take up arms with three other survivors or play as a zombie that has to kill said survivors. The survivors have to locate and destroy multiple nests that are weak points to the Zombie. The Zombie has to kill the survivors ten times before they are able to take out its nests. When being the Zombie, players will be able to level up certain skills that will help them rip apart their victims more easily! I know this because @Supersonicmike02 has mastered the craft so well that he invades my game right after I've stocked up on medkits to go on a most likely fantastic side quest where he makes me waste my curatives to no avail as he beats me before I take out one nest. Thank you Mike.
Speaking of skill trees, players who take control of Crane have access to them as well. The skill tree is split into three different categories: Power, Agility, and Survival. The Power tree allows players to increase and learn new skills that enable them to become more adept with melee weapons. The Agility tree increases player's ability to excell in parkour skills and learn techniques that involve dodging and escaping from attacks. Lastly, the survival tree is one you can use to become more advanced at crafting new items such as a grappling hook! Fly around like Spider-Man now can in the Marvel Universe without Sony's horrid meddling! Oh, but don't forget that you lose survivor points (which is what gains you points for the survival area of the skill tree) if you die. That is why you'll need to learn to craft!
Crafting in Dying Light is actually pretty simple. It tells you everything you need to make a specific object whether it be upgrades to an electrified sword or lesser necessities such as medkits. The hard part is finding what you need to make them. While attempting to locate these materials, be weary of both zombies and Rais's goons (which of whom I believe are a nice change of pace enemy wise). Throughout Harran there are a plethora of zombies willing to rip your guts out. Though, don't think they're all mindless corpses that shamble around. Oh no. Dying Light has zombies that spew acid, zombies that are the size of skyscrapers that will chuck huge pieces of GROUND at you, and definitely not the last type, zombies that wield sledgehammers. And just think, these zombies are literally two times more aggressive and powerful at night. Good night, good luck they say.
However, whether it be night or day, Harran remains desolately beautiful none the less. With highly polished areas that make players forget about the slightly stiff characters, Dying Light takes advantage of the graphical overhaul of current-gen consoles. Additionally, the soundtrack ranges from spine-chilling when missions call for surviving a multitude of zombies to intense, fast-paced scores that makes your heart race. All of these songs are expertly accompanied with perfectly placed background chants that match the African-like setting of Harran.
Dying Light is a reanimation of the zombie genre. With Resident Evil leaving the area of full-fledged survival horror, its incredible that Dying Light come out of nowhere to bring life to a dying genre with incredible ideas when it did. Not only does it seamlessly mix survival horror with an FPS type of gameplay, but it also manages to one-up Mirror's Edge in the parkour department. Everything about Dying Light is great except for a somewhat poor villain and an internet connection that Super Smash Bros can laugh it. Don't let Dying Light shamble past you if you have the opportunity to pick it up.