Dying Light preview
The lucky attendees of PAX got to get their hands on Techland‘s newest open world zombie thriller Dying Light preview during the day, I didn’t take an opportunity to actually play any of that demo, I just waited to jump waist deep into the special media demo, featuring the dreaded night cycle. See, Dying Light has two cycles, day and night, except in Dying Light, the freaks literally come out at night…or the zombies just become bloodthirsty super zombies.
Many of my close friends knows my very vocal dismay for Dead Island and its second unsurprisingly lackadaisical Riptide sequel. I wasn’t afraid to let Maciej Binkowski, one of the fine game designers of Techland who was walking me through the Dying Light preview night cycle know it either. Binkowski assured me, even after the tragic launch and glitch filled circus of Dead Island, Dying Light has had vast improvements to the engine, the world, and the story. Characters actually matter, their stories mean something, and leveling them in the world will hopefully be balanced with useful skills and weapons. The days of having a character skilled with guns and no guns for them to use are over. Leveling and skill sets though weren’t covered extensively, just a quick tutorial on how the controls work, and how to use weapons and interact with the environment before I was thrown to the wolves when the sun quickly set.
Much like Dead Island you are trapped in a zombie infested environment, this time it isn’t a beautiful resort getaway, just a dilapidated city waiting to swallow you whole if you’re not careful. Interaction with the city in the form of traps are an essential part of survival, and being a genuinely good person can also favor your life cycle. Just like traps, shops, and safe houses throughout the city, you may at some points be called upon to help your fellow man, assisting them in their survival could save your own ass later in the game. Those were the extent of choices I was asked to make in the demo, well that and my choice to run and scream like a baby once night fell upon our camp.
When the sun sets and your only means of light is from the glow of the moon and the beam of your flashlight is when Dying light starts to shine. The zombies become much more aggressive, trading their slow stupor for a blood spewing sprint. Your greatest defense is now your ability to parkour around the buildings, blind unsuspecting zombies, and bat away multiple hostiles that invade your personal bubble. I opted for the first option, running with the good legs and stamina the developers gave me, activating traps I could find, and hiding when it was afforded to me. The journalists screams from the across the table sounded like they chose the same option.
Dying Light is a giant step forward in the open exploration zombie genre, yes I just made it up, but with two previous games and the recently successful State of Decay says the genre needs a name. The titles graphics were sharp, combat still left a lot to be desired, but the shear amount of terror that the day and night cycle bring added a lot to Techland’s next installment. If I hadn’t had the opportunity to play the Dying Light preview I would have disregarded it because of its Dead Island reputation, but seeing it in action throws up a little blip on the radar. Maybe third time really is a charm.