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Techland | Official Site
Action RPG | Setting:Horror | Status:Final  (rel 01/27/15)  | Pub:Warner Brothers Interactive
Distribution:Download,Retail | Retail Price:$59.99 | Pay Type:Free | Monthly Fee:n/a
System Req: PC Linux Playstation 4 Xbox One | Out of date info? Let us know!

Experiencing the Undead Apocalypse First-hand - Edit

Experiencing the Undead Apocalypse First-hand

You will find lots of weapons. The game boasts more than a dozen types, from baseball bats to pistols, you’ll makeshift your way through an arsenal by the time you’re through. Each one has a noticeable impact on the infected, too, including blunt and bloody cutouts to full-on severed limbs. Don’t expect to rely on guns, however. They’re scarce and attract more attention than they’re worth. Plus, it’s damn fun to chop off a pair of arms and pretend you’re Michonne from The Walking Dead. Each weapon has a limited amount of repairs meaning even the best weapons are limited.

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Weapons tie tightly to the game’s crafting system, which allows you to make modifications to add fun effects to your gear. My favorites were always the electricity mods which added an arcing stun or, in the case of the “home run” mod, send your enemy shooting through the air, preferably from a rooftop. You’ll make your fair share of medkits and booster vials, and repair your gear when it’s too run down to function, but crafting is as much about thriving as it is surviving. This drives scavenging through cars and apartments when vendors (always) lack the item you need most.

Which brings me to night gameplay. I hate it. A special kind of zombie emerges after called the Volatile. They’re fast and hunt you. If they see you, it’s time to run and if they catch you, you’re done. This means a lot of crouching and sneaking which slows gameplay to the world’s most stressful crawl. Because the last thing you want is to get spotted and have to make a break for it.

The last ditch run is downright nerve-wracking. Since dark is actually dark and the other zombies are still right where they were during the daytime, racing through the city often meant hitting walls, missing jumps, and running face first into a face-biter. When you die, you lose survivor experience too. It’s the kind of edge of your seat gameplay some players will love but I found it too stressful to be fun more than a fraction of the time. Even though you earn bonus XP, I just didn’t find it worth it.

What else didn’t I like? Even though the graphics up close were beautiful, objects in the distance often looked muddy and indistinct. Voice acting was hit or miss, right along with lip syncing. Co-op, though promising for friends wanting adventure through the entire campaign together, seems like an afterthought. Sure, you can play together, but there’s not much incentive and it’s hidden away under the option to start a new campaign. Weird.

The Night Hunter option is also a little strange. Available exclusively as a pre-order bonus Night Hunter Mode allows you to take the form of a powerful zombie and invade other players’ games. If you happened to reserve your copy ahead of time, you wreck co-op players’ days with your new, nasty zombie.  It’s a bit like Dark Souls. That I like.

What bothers me is that the Night Hunter represents the only other class in the game. This is a definitive step back from Dead Island’s five. One class means dramatically less replay value. Given that the Night Hunter was a pre-order incentive, I worry that future classes might take the form of paid DLC.

That said, Dying Light has some issues when compared to its forbears, but it also sets itself apart in some remarkable ways. The parkour really is as good as you’ve heard and is the first bit of innovation we’ve seen in the zombie genre in far too long. The RPG systems definitely allow you to hone your character in a natural fashion, but it would have been nice to see some extra classes for variety. Night play isn’t for me, but I won’t knock it for that. Techland never hid its brutal nature.  As a piece of zombie fiction, Dying Light isn’t the most original tale. As a way to experience the undead apocalypse first-hand? It’s hard to beat.

Gameplay: 7 – Running around and smashing zombies is a lot of fun but too many fetch quests spread too far apart weigh it down.

Visuals and Sound: 7 – The game looks and sounds great up close but includes noticeable texture drops in the distance.

Polish: 7 – There’s not much game breaking but like any open world game, there are bugs. I fell through the world once and saw more than one zombie clip and get stuck in an object.

Longevity: 6 – With only one class and playstyle-based progression, replays are less compelling than they should be.

Value:  8 – At $59.99, Dying Light is an expensive game, but it’s also the only one of its kind and is (mostly) a solid improvement on its predecessors.

Final Score

7.2

Pros
 A solid improvement on its predecessors
 One of its kind
Cons
 Replays are not very compelling
 Too many fetch quests