Dying Light Mixes Mirror’s Edge, Zombies & Sensational Night-Life
Full disclosure: We have had a preview of Dying Light ready and awaiting publish for little over a year now; that’s right, an entire year. With delay after delay, we were forced to delay our preview in turn. Meanwhile, development on the game itself has been moving along at a rapid pace and what you will see releasing in a few weeks’ time is likely going to be quite different from what was originally shown nearly two years ago now. An interesting opportunity then to take a look at the dynamics of game development, and actually watch the transformation of a game over the course of two years. Yay for academic previews!
Name: Dying Light
Genre: First Person Zombie Survival Horror
Players: 1 or 4 (online)
Multiplayer: Online cooperative
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publishers: Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: 27 January 2014
Price: $60 / R699
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First, a brief history of Techland — because it’s good to get to know the developers of the games we play, so we know what to expect from them. That way they can either deliver to our expectations or try to exceed them. Techland is certainly not the cream of the crop of gaming developers, it has to be said. Hailing from Poland (a place now somewhat infamous for producing glitchy games) the European developer has certainly had a few disappointments to its name. The likes of the terrible Call of Juarez: The Cartel — aka Kill Brown People: The Game — come instantly to mind, and much of the gaming world still hasn’t got over the way the first trailer for their other recent title Dead Island — aka Angry Racist Stereotypes Vs Zombies: The Game — blatantly misrepresented the actual content of the game itself. But they have also had a few half-decent offerings such as the now-quite-old Xpand Rally, and Call of Juarez: Gunslinger.
With their Dead Island franchise ripped like the tide (heh) from their clutches and given to Yager, Techland have instead been hard at work on something
not entirely different. And something, we have to say, which looks a lot more interesting than any old zombie-beat-em-up. So that’s the brief history of Techland out of the way, let’s have a look at the history of Dying Light itself. It has certainly been around for a very long time, and when it was first announced, it was a multi-platform, multi-generation offering. Since then the older generation has fallen away, leaving only the Xbox One, PS4 and PC versions which will be releasing soon.
Dying Light is, at its heart, a spiritual successor to Dead Island. It will play out in the first person, and feature a zombie-filled open world for you to explore. There will also be semi-intensive RPG elements in play, allowing you to scavenge items from the game world and improve your player character along the course of the game. But Dying Light has a few neat twists to its core gameplay. For one, you are able to platform pretty much everywhere, just like in Assassin’s Creed but in the first person and with zombies so nearly nothing like Assassin’s Creed. Second, and here’s where the game’s name so brilliantly comes to the fore, zombies hulk out at night, effectively forcing you to only venture outside during the day or risk life and limb once the sun goes down.
Let’s have a look at what the game looked like over a year ago:
Not too shabby, eh? You’ve probably heard the comparisons to Mirror’s Edge styled parkour and zombies ad nauseam by now, but there really is no better way to explain the game than that. Seriously, try it. Walk up to someone who hasn’t heard of Dying Light but plays games and tell them, “It’s Mirror’s Edge but with zombies,” and watch the realisation dawn upon their face. Speaking of dawn, there’s also that little neat twist to things.
Granted it’s not new to the world of zombies, but the idea of overpowered zombies at night and the first person element could blend together to provide something truly fearful and frantic. Dead Island may have been a lot of disappointing things but there were times when it really had you on edge. Add in some Assassin’s Creed meets Mirror’s Edge platforming and you’ve got something that literally has you on the edge too. It’s all one big recipe for mayhem, and it might just make for one of the most entertaining zombie romps for a while.
But of course, that was over a year ago, and how has the game shaped up since then? Well, we’ve got quite a long watch but feel free to skip ahead, and see what Dying Light looks like now:
So we’ve got a graphical upgrade, par for the course. We’ve also got what seems like a more focussed story this time around, with a central character rather than one you can pick for yourself. We’ll allow it, for story purposes. Finally, it looks as if they’ve really done a lot to the mechanics and systems in play with the game’s mechanics. It certainly doesn’t seem anything like a pedestrian stroll where you need only turn up and automatically win. This game looks as if it’s going to take some serious time investment to get the best play experience out of it. Sweet.
Another new addition since the initial reveal seems to be multiplayer. There are two distinct types that have been revealed thus far. One of them is your standard Assassin’s Creed: Unity / Left 4 Dead / Gears of War style four-player cooperative. Basically: Shoot zombies with friends, but they can’t call it The Walking Dead because of licensing. The other multiplayer mode will be a form of asynchronous multiplayer in which players get to either be humans or zombies, and well, we’re not really sure just yet how that will work; it could be Watch_Dogs-styled invasion of another player’s game, or it could be a separate mode entirely. Watch this space?
Suspected Selling Points
- The game offers something unique to players, with the zombie parkour experience.
- Dead Island wasn’t the worst game ever, so there’s no reason to believe Dying Light will suck.
- It’s the first big new-gen game to come out this year so if you’re impatient then why not?
- Techland’s shaky past leaves a lot to be desired.
- This game is almost guaranteed to be glitched to hell.
- Are zombies still cool in games?
Dying Light is another chance for Techland to show that it’s ready for the big leagues. It certainly has the interest from the gaming community, so all that remains to be seen is whether it can deliver. We’re willing to give it the benefit of the doubt for having the audacity to try and mix first person platforming, niche though it is, with zombie survival. It could be a glorious mess of glitches and mediocre storytelling, but it could also be entertaining despite all that. For the moment, the only question that needs to be answered is: Does Mirror’s Edge with zombies sound fun to you? If so, what are you waiting for… besides, well, the game to release… *cough*