sun 27/09/2020

Dying Light | reviews, news & interviews

Dying Light

Dying Light

Zombies and parkour fails to add up to adrenaline

'Dying Light': The zombies are too slow to catch you...

Techland's previous first-person zombie game was Dead Island. This swaps its beach resort location for a nondescript south American city, and its supercharged, cobbled-together weaponry for parkour-style run-jump-climb agility. One of these swaps is good news, the other not so much.

Techland's previous first-person zombie game was Dead Island. This swaps its beach resort location for a nondescript south American city, and its supercharged, cobbled-together weaponry for parkour-style run-jump-climb agility. One of these swaps is good news, the other not so much.

Crash-landing in the zombie-infested city of Harran, your undercover government operative has to ingratiate himself with the locals, trying to survive holed up in a tower block. How he does that is largely by going and fetching things for them from all over.

On the way, you also get to open up "safe houses" and scavenge for collectible items, used to patch up your stash of melee weapons and craft new items. So far, so bog-standard – your average zombie apocalypse survival, first-person action game.

Dying Light - from makers of Dead Island, post apocalypse zombie first-person shooterWhat sets Dying Light apart, particularly compared to Techland's previous zombie title, is not its generic setting, plot or mission construction. It is the day/night cycle and inclusion of parkour-style climbing and jumping acrobatics. Together these should have resulted in a stealthier, grimmer and tenser feeling game.

Unfortunately, the parkour is rubbish – you feel less like the sliding, sprinting courier in the brilliant Mirror's Edge and more like a zombie flailing round a playground. It's hardly balletic. The one-button jump/grab system, combined with having to look at the ledge you want to grab onto, is fiddly. The result is often damaging tumbles out of mistake, rather than lack of skill.

Perhaps the slow pacing is intentional. During the daytime, the zombies are so dumb there's little need to engage them. Sprint through a shambling crowd and you'll be up onto the next roof before many even notice you passing, much less make a grab for you.

Dying Light - from makers of Dead Island, post apocalypse zombie first-person shooterJacking up the difficulty level helps, but only serves to highlight the fact that it's your parkour skills, or lack thereof, that are the main enemy in this game. The alternative, going out at night, is better.

At night, you can hole up in a safe house or take to the streets – when there are more zombies, including the odd "viral", who can climb, run and appear if you make noise. These make for a far more thrilling cat-and-mouse game – although, admittedly, it's still too easy to climb away from a pack, wait for a viral to come up after you and then deal with just them.

Ditching the penalties if you die in the dark also removes consequence and tension from going out after dark, but at least it can be genuinely creepy to round a corner and face a pack looming out of the darkness in your torchlight.

Ultimately, Dying Light looks nice – its city setting is competently, if not imaginatively done, and your enemies are suitably gruesome. But a lack of challenge or innovation lets it down badly.

Round a corner and face a pack looming out of the darkness in your torchlight

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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