For the record, the full review will be up very soon. These are some impressions.
There are elements in video games that often defy explanation and analysis. Well, what I mean is that it's difficult to convey one's thoughts on such traits, mostly because they're A. partially subjective, and B. not always qualitative.
In Dying Light , I have to say that two things keep leaping out at me: A distinct and disappointing lack of pacing and general gameplay fluidity. Granted, some will have different standards and definitions and I accept that. But when I'm playing, I'm always noticing the fantastic potential within the game, and I'm always interested in seeing what comes next. Developer Techland did a great job providing the player with a tense, gritty environment that demands attention.
On the flip side, the actual gameplay feels like a misfiring engine. One minute, it's going along just fine and the next, it's sputtering and gasping for air. This is caused by an occasionally questionable game design that causes the player to fall into a rut. There are times when you're just running from more zombies or leaping around, climbing all over stuff. This is when the adventure starts to lose its focus. But the instant you accept another very cool side mission, you're re-immersed in a fantastic atmosphere that requires vigilance, strategy and timing.
Then, you're bogged down by what I call a fluidity issue. The idea is to combine the free-running/parkour elements found in a game like Mirror's Edge with a creepy first-person survival adventure. It's a great concept, to be sure. And most of the time, it works. On the other hand, when going flat-out (usually trying to run from zombies), it just doesn't feel as fluid and intuitive as it should. There are breaks in the continuity and every time I encounter one of those little breaks, I frown in frustration.
In so many ways, Dying Light feels like a near-miss to me. It has all the right components but they don't always gel together and that leaves me with an unfulfilled sensation. I will not, however, insult the game's ambition and style, nor will I cast aspersions on the adventure's focus on something besides slashing and dashing. It's a good game. It's just not the amazing gem it could've been, that's all.
Related Game(s): Dying Light