Dying Light (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 07.02.2015

Review for Dying Light on PlayStation 4

Techland found success with its formula when it delivered the flawed yet enjoyable Dead Island. Back in 2011, Techland took open-ended first-person action-RPG elements and infused them into a survival-horror zombie game with a huge tropical setting with drivable vehicles, four-player co-op, looting and lots of side-quests. Despite its bugs and technical issues, many players gravitated towards this game and loved the concept so much that the publisher Deep Silver made it into a multi-media franchise spanning sequels, spin-offs, MOBAs and even a recently announced free-to-play game. Now that Techland is no longer developing for Deep Silver, it still aims to pursue its original concept of a wide open sandbox zombie game with co-operative gameplay, in the form of Dying Light. Has Techland mastered the formula and expanded on initial ideas? Cubed3 has the guts to try out Dying Light.

Dying Light is a major improvement over Dead Island in many ways. Most importantly, Dying Light is a much smoother game that is not prone to crashing or bugging out. It is a very stable game that maintains a meagre 30 frames per second instead of Techland's earlier claims of aiming for 60fps for Dying Light. It is unfortunate considering that this was originally designed to run on PS3 and Xbox 360 hardware (which got cancelled) and despite it being a relatively low spec game, it still cannot achieve the fluid and tight responsiveness of 60fps that players demand. Even though only at 30fps, though, it manages to look nice regardless and display some pretty believable effects. Palm trees sway in the wind realistically and wafting embers from burning wreckages make the atmosphere feel natural. Film grain and real-time weather effects can make it have an almost a documentary-like feel. Character models are detailed well enough but are not terribly expressive, however, and the game also recycles a lot of character faces and uses some pretty obvious corner cutting techniques to hide the fact there are maybe less than 10 generic character types who are not story related, something that is even more noticeable with the generic zombie types. When a large horde of zombies group up it becomes pretty comical when five or seven of the same zombies with their bra strap exposed and dangling in the same exact way are all standing together in a cluster.

Screenshot for Dying Light on PlayStation 4

There just isn't enough visual variety and it isn't simply limited to enemy skins either. The environment is pretty obviously built with all kinds of copy-pasted assets, including nearly every interior being furnished with the same exact objects. In Dead Island this sort of thing was understandable because it took place in a resort, but in Dying Light where it takes place in what seems like a fusion of Turkey and Brazil, almost every location is a filthy slum or shanty. Even the enemy design isn't all that inspiring - all cribbing from the Left 4 Dead playbook. The game maintains the same colour scheme for most part, only really changing when the sun goes down, and it becomes visually exhausting after staring at the same colors for hours. Saying that, Dying Light does make a very strong initial first impression with its graphics in spite of the repetitive assets being recycled and is a much better looking game compared to Dead Island.

Screenshot for Dying Light on PlayStation 4

The main character, Kyle Crane, is basically Chris Redfield from Resident Evil 5. He is a generic goody two-shoes action hero who can be very self-righteous and even has the same voice actor as Chris Redfield. There are many moments where it is almost jarring the little effort the voice actor, Roger Craig Smith, gives to differentiate Kyle Crane from Chris Redfield. In fact, much of the cast is pretty flat and no real character sticks out as memorable or even all that likable, to be honest. It is all such familiar territory from other zombie games and it never really does anything unique. Thankfully, Dying Light's story does do some interesting things that impact the gameplay in some meaningful ways. For example, air drops that come in randomly, which can get stolen by raiders. Other times there can be a random NPC to rescue from attacks in various set-ups.

The greatest selling points have to be the parkour gameplay and dynamic day cycle that increases the risk factor when the sun goes down. The parkour is far simpler and efficient in Dying Light than it ever was in Mirror's Edge, for instance. It's pretty responsive and accurate but sadly is not fully effective at first because the designers decided to lock out much of its best qualities behind a leveling-up system. Features like 'faster general movement' seem like a cop-out to have behind high-level thresholds and serve only to slow the game's pacing.

Screenshot for Dying Light on PlayStation 4

The first-person combat is very simple and mostly efficient, but because of the scaling, it never feels the weapons matter much. Even when players craft a powerful cricket bat with an electrical current, they never feel like they are anymore effective in combat than if it was a plain old table leg found in a dumpster. As for the day and night cycle, it works, but curiously the night lasts only like seven or eight minutes, but the day lasts about 40 minutes. Perhaps it is because the night-time sequences are pure hell. The most dangerous and threatening monsters come out during the night and the game implements a semi-stealth element during these moments. The risk when running about during these times is pretty exhilarating and players are rewarded for being so bold with double experience points.

Dying Light has a lot of content within it. The co-operative feature works well enough and the asynchronous 'Be the Zombie' option keeps things interesting. Between about 30-40 hours of content, Dying Light will satisfy people looking for a long game, even if many of those hours are filler and looting through identical looking locations for scraps. This is a game best played in shorter bursts because the tedium of its structure tends to overstay its welcome. As a zombie game, it succeeds on multiple levels - it has the survival elements down as well, since it makes the player feel like a zombie as their brain rots as they endure monotonous tedium over and over.

Screenshot for Dying Light on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Dying Light is an easily digestible game during the post holiday drought that lasts until something better comes along. It may not stick in the memory for long, but there are some legitimately enjoyable moments to be had. Uninteresting story and characters aside, the core gameplay mechanics are solid and easy to use but sadly lack alternate control schemes to use in option menus. When the sun goes down is when Dying Light shines the brightest and stops holding back. The pacing jumps up 10 notches and things become interesting due to the powerful super zombies and the urgency to not stay in a single place kicks in. It breaks up the monotony and it is these moments of originality that make Dying Light stand out from other games of this ilk, and is why it comes thoroughly recommended.

Developer

Techland

Publisher

Warner Bros

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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