“Really, another zombies game?!?”. That was my first thought when I hunkered down at the Warner Brothers E3 booth waiting for Techland’s “Dying Light” demo to get going. Granted, I enjoy my share of zombie games but to say we have been inundated with them would be an understatement. Dying Light is indeed yet another zombies game, but this one stood out at E3 a little differently than your regular ‘run of the mill’ zombies game. After the 15-minute or so demo I walked away tickled pink and with a tiny turd in my pants after that final scene.
The basic premise of Dying Light is straight forward. A zombie outbreak has intensified causing groups of humans to take refuge. In order to survive, humans must venture outside during the day in order to scavenge for supplies, food and weaponry. There are zombies lumbering around during the day and remain a threat. At night, however is a different story. At 9pm, a new breed of zombies venture outside who are bigger, faster and absolutely menacing. If the humans run into one of these grizzly zombies, they are toast. As you would guess, you play as one of these humans so the key is keeping a close eye on your virtual watch and ensure you reach a safe zone by the time the light dies. But it does not end there as other humans also remain a threat to your survival as well.
Right now you may be thinking “what is the big deal” as Dying Light’s premise is quite similar to other relatively recent zombie games we have played. That being said, this one managed to capture my attention for a few reasons. First, the style of gameplay looks like a blast. The demo featured fast and quick first person action. Running and leaping through streets, alleyways, rooftops and villages in a parlour-like fashion looked enjoyable. I was never a big fan of Mirror’s Edge but the demo reminded me of it. Many of you who enjoyed that Mirror’s Edge style of gameplay may want to keep your eye on Dying Light. Second, the demo looked visually stunning as it was shown on a high-end PC with next gen specs. The lighting and shadow effects really stood out and the vibrant colours just popped from the screen. It had a bit of a Far Cry 3 and Dead Island look but so much cleaner. Third, some of those sequences where you are absolutely sprinting for your life looked intense. As the developers described, sometimes the best thing to do is run for your life and it is during these segments the Mirror’s Edge in Dying Light surfaces.
Dying Light is more than just killing zombies, searching for loot and staying out of the dark. It is open world game so there is freedom to explore the world and tackle missions as you please. During the demo our hero was headed off to gather supplies when he heard a scream. When he went to investigate the scream this triggered a side mission where eventually he located a small child in a closet. It was an interesting element of the demo and I would imagine we could see many more of these side missions throughout the game. Also Dying Light will feature a weapon crafting system. In one such scene, our hero was equipped with a machete that emitted electrical bolts. So I think it’s safe to say, the game will involve a great deal of exploration and thankfully you will be rewarded for your efforts.
The final scene in the demo had me jumping out of my chair and I left the demo room mostly impressed. The visuals looked remarkably impressive and the style of gameplay looks frantic. There is no question it will be a fast paced game but there is potential here for Dying Light to be a deep and engaging experience. Yes there are similarities with other games in its genre but Dying Light feels different and in the end I walked away impressed.