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Dying Light Review

Replay Value:
Online Gameplay:
Overall Rating:
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
January 27, 2015

Dying Light isn’t quite done. It needs to go back in the oven for another ten minutes or so. It’s not cooked all the way through; nothing is raw but many ingredients simply aren’t complete. It’s one hell of a recipe, too: An open-world survival-based action game, featuring a robust character advancement system, a focus on strategy and timing, and a compelling (albeit predictable) narrative with lots of great side dishes. Developer Techland, while not novice chefs, still aren’t quite to the level of elite designers in my eyes, simply because their meals and presentations are always just a tad disappointing.

Take the graphics, for example. Now, there’s a lot to like here; the post-apocalyptic setting is rife with horribly transformed humans that now thrive on flesh and blood, and the crumbling structures and improvised shelters are atmospheric. The detail you find throughout the suffering city of Harran can be borderline exquisite and some of the bosses are beautifully drawn and defined. The animations are pretty cool, too, although I think we should be beyond rag-doll physics at this point. Then there are the downsides: The lighting can be erratic, the special effects aren’t always spot-on, and the overall world design has some serious flaws. Like I said above, incomplete.

So many times, Techland was on their way to video game nirvana. But each time, they fell short due to a variety of technical, artistic, and/or design issues that never fail to rear their ugly heads. For instance, while we get fantastic voice performances and a pretty solid soundtrack, I’m just not a fan of the effects. The environmental effects are decent but the combat effects are just plain strange in my eyes; they’re brutal without being realistic and both gut-wrenching and comical at the same time. It’s as if the team wasn’t quite sure of the direction they wanted the audio to take. But like everything else in the game, there are lots of quality pieces to enjoy.

If you’re familiar with Techland’s previous efforts – the Dead Island franchise, for example – you’re probably willing to forgive the technical hang-ups that seem evident in all their productions. Dying Light is definitely a step up in terms of ambition and design, because it’s not about slashing through hordes of zombies with increasingly better weapons. It’s about surviving in an intimidating, forbidding world where zombies have taken over, and nobody is ever safe. You start your adventure as a trained military individual but you’ve still got a long way to go before you start to feel powerful. It’s this sense of build-up and progression that lies at the core of the game’s entertainment.