Now that I've pumped many, many hours into Dying Light, it’s time to give my real thoughts on it.
Warning: This might spoil a little/a lot. You have been duly warned!
About the game (Official)
Dying Light is an action survival game presented in first-person perspective. The game is set in a vast and dangerous open world. During the day, you roam an urban environment devastated by a mysterious epidemic, scavenging for supplies and crafting weapons to help you defeat the hordes of mindless, flesh-hungry enemies the plague has created. At night, the hunter becomes the prey as the infected grow in strength and aggression - but even more lethal are the nocturnal, inhuman predators that leave their hives to feed. You will need to make use of all your skills and any available means to survive till dawn.
While the launch wasn’t exactly amazing, and the performance on Linux right now is still sub-par, the main campaign is really worth playing -- at least until you reach the end game that is. They have increased the FPS for me to make it actually playable, but in doing so they removed the AA option, so it’s not the perfect experience just yet.
A most recent patch (1.5.1) also seemed to sadly reduce the performance a little, but Techland have assured me a big performance patch is in the works. The drop isn't by too much, but it is there by 5-10FPS for me.
I’m looking forward to the developers really coming through for the Linux crowd and giving us a better experience. There’s far more performance they could unlock, and we do rather badly need the AA setting to return.
Dying Light is actually one of the few games that steadily gets more interesting as time goes on, and it really had me hooked. It’s also one of the few games I hope gets a good full story DLC, as I would like to play more.
In Dying Light you play as a GRE agent named Kyle Crane, and it’s your job to retrieve information on a cure for the virus that has turned your regular humans into hungry flesh eating simpletons. There isn’t really much in the way of explanation on what the GRE is, but it seems to be some sort of private aid organisation.
The story was actually quite satisfying for the most part, and that’s probably what surprised me the most about Dying Light. It has enough little twists and turns to keep you wanting to know what’s going to happen next.
The game does throw a few little interesting random events your way, with things like Zombies bursting out of a random door, or later in the game smashing through a covered drain in the floor. It’s little things that help keep it interesting.
The parkour is surprisingly great. There’s nothing like bouncing around on rooftops, and climbing up the side of a massive building to make you feel awesome. Without the parkour the game wouldn’t have been nearly as good as it was for me. Although that’s a bit of a moot point, since parkour is one of the main features.
As you progress you steadily unlock access to more abilities, new weapons, new traps and tons of fun things you can use to save Harran from the Zombie threat. One particular ability did amuse me to no end, and that’s the ability to punch Zombies as you run at them. It’s incredibly satisfying to punch a Zombie off a tall building.
Another extremely useful ability is being able to vault over Zombies, and this can be improved further with a stun effect which is very useful for getting away from bigger hordes.
The repair function is something that genuinely frustrated me with Dying Light. You only get a limited amount of repairs per weapon, and once they are used up you need to scrap it and use a different weapon. It gets even more frustrating when you upgrade weapons to be something awesome, only to have it break eventually to never be used again.
Eventually you will gain access to the Grappling Hook, and this makes the parkour even more fun. As you are more easily able to access certain areas, and who doesn’t want to be like Spiderman a little inside.
Night time is when the game gets even more interesting, as it turns into some sort of stealth game trying to avoid the real Zombie threat. I genuinely get a little pumped when my character is out at night, and it's a fun feeling.
The first time it turns to night and you hear the special Zombies howling, it can really get you going. It gets a little intense any time they spot you, but if you manage to evade them, or lose them after they spot you, then you get extra points.
The Zombies, mmmm brains!
The normal Zombies are a little lacking in this game, as they are incredibly weak even in big groups, so I look forward to going through the game again on the new Hard Mode. Honestly, I would go for the harder modes to begin with to make sure you get the most out of the game.
I feel they could have done far more with the variations of the Zombies though, as even with the special infected it does become quite easy as you unlock more abilities and higher powered weapons. At the start the special infected that are a bit faster than normal Zombies can be a real nightmare, but after only a few hours you can dispatch entire groups of them with a few simple slashes. This again strengthens my thoughts on playing it on Hard Mode to get the best of the game.
Be the Zombie
The main online mode for Dying Light (apart from Co-op) is the Be the Zombie mode, and I actually rather enjoyed someone invading my game at night.
I've only successfully played the Be The Zombie online mode once, and luckily the other player stuck around for the entire duration of it (they even spoke to me!). This mode is actually incredibly fun, and only amplifies my enjoyment of the game, but connection issues with multiple failed attempts does frustrate me a lot with it.
The other player joins your game as a special zombie that can be beaten back with a UV Torch and/or your flares. It’s intense, scary, and gave me some further enjoyment out of the game. It made me jump every time the other player grabbed me and I wasn’t expecting it.
The ending, because what’s one of my longer posts without a rant!
My thoughts through the entire finale were basically “when will it bloody end”. That sums up the finale rather well I think.
The convenience of the unlocked grappling hook is also conveniently taken away during the entire ending sequence, as your character slowly succumbs more and more to the virus. Honestly I felt like this was a bit of a cop-out to force you into their poorly executed ending.
There’s a specific part involving a crane that really stumped me for a while. You need to reach the end of a crane to jump onto the side of a building before Rais blows the damn thing up with an RPG. It sounds simple enough, but if you just try to run along it normally it falls too quickly, or so I thought.
After 20 minutes of failures I found a bug that allowed you to climb to the very top of the crane, and do a sort of tight rope act walking down a support wire. For some reason that makes zero sense, Rais decides not to fire if you do that. This results in a bug as it seems Rais is then not rendered if he doesn’t fire at the crane, and you cannot climb up the ladder on top of the building that leads to the final encounter with him.
Honestly, the ending feels like the developers utterly ran out of ideas, and made it the most annoying thing they could possibly create.
Once you finally reach the end, it’s a series of frustratingly timed QTE’s (events that make you quickly press A,S,D,W), and that’s it. No big boss fight you do yourself, just a timed key press event. I don’t know what goes through a developers mind when they think “we have all this cool stuff, he has all these awesome weapons and abilities, I KNOW, let’s make them use NONE of it and press a few buttons quickly!”.
The end utterly ruined the experience for me. It’s a shame, as the main campaign of the game was brilliant. I was not immersed in the end, i was not having fun, I was frustrated and bewildered at what a mess the ending was. I am more than a little bitter about the ending, but the rest of the game does somewhat make up for it.
The ending did at least feel slightly open for more story DLC, and as long as the finale isn’t as poor in any story DLC, it has me cautiously excited.
They did tease some upcoming content in a video, and it seems to imply we will be able to drive vehicles in future, so I look forward to whatever they come up with.
Final Verdict: If you don’t mind lower performance, crashes to the desktop, and a terribly poor ending, go for it. The main campaign is actually extremely fun, and decapitating zombies and setting off traps is truly satisfying. Personally I don’t feel it’s worth the current asking price, as the performance is too up and down.
Also in true Dying Light style while attempting to gather screenshots for this article, the game decided to crash to the desktop! How delightful!
Check out Dying Light on Steam now.
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