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Interesting characters, a fun crafting system, and an engaging open world make Dying Light the equivalent of a Far Cry game with zombies.
Dying Light’s gameplay is reminiscent of developer Techland’s previous work, the Dead Island games. The player primarily wields a series of ridiculous and lethal melee weapons to take down swarms of the undead. What’s new is the introduction of a free running mechanic. It feels great to move swiftly through the environment, and you’re going to need to, as the world’s size is absolutely massive!
This zombie apocalypse is set in Harran, an eastern-feeling city with a resemblance to ancient Turkey. There are two regions: The Slums and Ember City. Both offer a unique gorgeous look and exhilarating different ways to traverse the land.
Surprisingly, the personalities and plot of Dying Light surpass much of the action genre. You’ll find yourself caring about specific people, and the surviving population of Harran. This can be a real bitch because Techland is rather overzealous in its killing off of the supporting cast.
Of course, in any game featuring the living dead, combat is key. You’ll start by bludgeoning zombies until they drop. With time there will be a progression to more devastating melee weapons, requiring only one or two precision hits to the skull. A set of well thought out combat perks also keeps the game fresh well into its tenth hour.
Unfortunately Dying Light suffers from the same issue as most survival horror games: how does the developer keep enemies a threat whilst empowering the player? The first time I met a human with a gun, I only just killed him. He left me with an assault rifle, and ten bullets. Two hours later I had used three of those bullets, only in desperate circumstances. I did not want to attract the dead with the sound of my rifle. Experiences like these are truly memorable and make Dying Light stand out—that is, until about halfway through the campaign when firearms become easily accessible. Gunplay is solid, but I wish Techland had stuck with the survival elements so rarely done well in open-world games.
I would be surprised if Dying Light did not prove to be one of 2015’s most impressive games. Minor issues aside, a well-realised world, terrific combat and an original narrative means you should be playing this game. I know I will be.