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Dying Light Review

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Gameplay:

There are a number of gameplay points I want to cover and where better to start than weapons! Maybe the missions, but I will get to those, do not worry.

Most of the weapons you will encounter and use will be melee weapons. This makes sense since guns are loud and will attract zombies, in theory (will come back to that). These melee weapons can be table legs with nails in them to actual swords you happened to find. Obviously the swords will do more damage, but you may find a less powerful weapon that is more durable. All weapons have a certain amount of durability, and once that is used up they are no longer effective. This would be one of those 'makes sense in games' mechanics though, since a dull blade or pickaxe is still going to do a fair amount of damage to a zombie's skull. Also you would not expect a hammer to break if you are just hitting flesh with it. Anyway, to restore the weapon's effectiveness you have to repair it, which does not take long to do, but when in a fight, you will want to switch to another weapon. Weapons do have a limited number of repairs to them, but you can unlock a skill so that you do not always use a repair, allowing a weapon to last longer.

While a sword is definitely a nice weapon on its own, you will find and be rewarded with blueprints that will add some bonus to a weapon, like bleeding and a chance to set your enemies on fire. (Remember, video game logic.) These blueprints will add parts to an existing weapon, so the better the base weapon, the better the modified weapon will be. You can also apply upgrades to the weapon, modified or not, to apply additional bonuses, but there is a limit to how many a weapon can take. These upgrades can influence damage, durability, and handling. Handling is important because each attack consumes some stamina, and once you run out your attacks will be slower.

 

 

 

 

 

As I implied above, melee weapons have the advantage over guns of being silent, but guns are, of course, ranged and can do a lot of damage. Also while the game does warn you that the sound may attract zombies, I found this risk to not be that high when used as proper ranged weapons. There are a variety of zombies to deal with, and one particularly annoying kind spits acid at you. Once I acquired a rifle I would use it to kill these guys at range before they killed me. Even with the noise of the gunshot, few zombies would come after me that it was worth killing the spitter. I also favored the rifle for killing human enemies, because these are pretty hard to kill, as they can evade and block melee attacks. Also they can have guns of their own, so it is a good idea to take cover and pick them off.

 

Before I found my first gun, which was quite a ways into the game, I relied on molotovs to kill enemies at range. Let me tell you that in the beginning these are very powerful, because most zombies cannot survive a fire. Some will, but you can still clear out a good chunk of the horde this way. One thing I noticed that was frustrating was some inconsistency with whether enemies would even appear to be damaged by fire. The first time I encountered one of the giant zombies that throws around a massive metal bar, I used molotovs to kill it, but later on similar zombies would just ignore the fire and keep coming at me. For a while that was not too bad, because dodging their attacks was not too hard, if you paid attention, but then the area of effect of their attacks came to exceed the range of my dodge. If I ran in to attack and dodged back out, I would still get hit. Compounding this is the giant's ability to aim while swinging, so you cannot just avoid the wind up, but the whole attack.

 

 

Molotovs, like many other items, can be crafted, and the crafting system has one interesting twist to it. With the exception of primary weapons, you can carry an unlimited number of an item, so you should be able to carry as much alcohol, bandages, herbs, string, etc., as you wish. I say 'should' because there were numerous times that I was prevented from picking something up, like an alcohol bottle, and was told my inventory was full.

Helping you find useful items is Survivor Sense. Hit the button and basically everything you can interact with will light up, including items to pick up, containers to open, and doors. Only certain enemies will appear this way though, so do not use it expecting to see threats through walls.

 

Switching gears now, I want to talk about nighttime. According to the game, you do not want to be out at night because that is when some of the more ferocious zombies come out. Early on, this is definitely true, but as some missions force you to be out at night, and because of how powerful and skilled you become, the threat of night diminishes over time. You will still want to avoid it, but getting caught out at night is not that bad. When it does happen, you can run to a safe house, assuming you have unlocked it. Unlocking a safe house is as easy as clearing out the enemies present and turning the power on. The power is for UV lights that keep those nighttime zombies away. No other zombie seems to care about the light; just the barbed wire and other traps. You will want to use some of those traps to your advantage, because they can do a better job killing zombies than you.

Inside safe houses you will always find a bed to sleep and your stash. Considering you are only limited in the number of weapons you can carry, the stash does not really seem that important, except for giving you a place to change outfits. Of course this is a first-person game, so it is not like you are going to see these outfits anyway. The bed is the more useful of the two, but there is one thing about sleeping that is annoying. You will sleep either to night or to dawn, whichever comes first. That means that if you retreat to a safe house before night starts, you will have to go to bed twice for it to be day again (once to reach night and then once to pass the night). Some way to indicate when you want to wake up would have been a good addition.

 

 

Something else that would have been nice to have with the safe houses would be a fast travel system. Sure, you can traverse the map pretty quickly, but it still would have been nice to speed things up. There is a fast travel system in the game, which I only discovered after completing the campaign and by accident. There are two main maps to the world, the Slums and Old Town, and the way to get from one to the other requires going through the sewers. As it turns out, at some point posters appear in the two towers in these two areas, allowing you to fast travel between them. I have no idea when these posters appeared, or when the fast travel system activated, but they are there if you look for them.

Part of the reason this fast travel system is useful is because of the number of missions and challenges that are located in one map or the other. If you want to complete all of them, it helps to not have to run through the infested sewers to do so. I did many of the side missions, as they can offer some useful rewards, and those that do not require picking up supplies can be fun. The challenges, however, I mostly avoided and for one specific reason: they use your resources. Even though the challenges operate differently from other missions, actually allowing you to fail and sometimes putting you in a special environment, the health at the end of the challenge will be carried into the main game, and you will use your own medkits in the challenges, as well. Considering some of these challenges are combat-based, they can be a quick way to use up your medkits. Those combat challenges can definitely be fun, as you run around with a weapon that one-hits most enemies. Be careful though, because sometimes you have to hunt down the enemies before time runs out.

 

Mission objective points and challenges appear on the main map when you open it, and you are able to switch which mission you are tracking from the main map, as well. I mention this because it is pretty useful. It also makes it easier to become distracted by the side missions.

There are three skill trees for you to unlock abilities on. Yes, three and they each use different experience types. The Survivor tree uses Survivor Points, the Agility tree uses Agility Points, and the Power tree uses Power Points. Survivor Points are earned by completing missions, rescuing survivors, and collecting supply drops. Agility Points are earned by acts of agility, like climbing buildings and sliding under obstacles. Power Points are earned by attacking and killing enemies. Some of the abilities you unlock can be very useful, such as finishing off enemies on the ground with a boot to the head, or executing enemies from behind. There are also two health regeneration abilities, but I cannot tell you how they work. Their descriptions seem to suggest they will regenerate your health to a certain point, but what that point is I have not seen documented. In any case, considering how much damage some enemies can do with a single hit, I do not think these abilities amount to much. You will likely be relying on sleep and medkits to regain health, and not regeneration.

Survivor Points also have the role of punishment for death, depending on the situation, sort of. Sometimes when you die, you will lose Survivor Points, and the amount you lose depends on how you die, with falls deducting less than enemies killing you. During the course of some missions this punishment is suspended. This is not true of all missions, which can be very frustrating, depending on the content of the missions. It can also be frustrating that in the overworld you will respawn at a safehouse, sending you potentially far away from where you were, or putting you in a safehouse it is difficult to get out of.

 

Now we come to what I find to be the most aggravating aspect of the game: the free-running. For a lot of the game, the free-running works fine, with you scaling buildings and vaulting over obstacles without issue. However, it lacks a particular feature for no apparent reason, which is that you cannot drop down to a ledge. The only way I know of to grab a ledge is to climb up to it, so if you are already at the top and want to come down, you have to find a place to jump to. It may sound silly, but I died multiple times directly because I could not safely get down from somewhere; the ability to drop onto a ledge would have helped tremendously.

It also would help if you more consistently grabbed ledges. At the end of the game you will come to a jump you cannot make without grabbing a ledge and then jumping from that. The problem is that the ledge is small enough to go almost unnoticed, and when I tried grabbing the identical ledge over a safe area, I did not. That may have to do with the wall running ability breaking the ledge grabbing system, which is itself a problem, but the issue with the jump puzzle remains.

The grappling hook also seems to break the ledge grabbing ability, as I died numerous times by grappling to a ledge only to not grab it, and fall to my death. Sometimes I would grab ledges I obviously should, and sometimes I would not. Sometimes I would even grab ledges I probably should not have. The grappling hook is also odd because in one challenge where I was granted it prior to unlocking it, the instructions were to use the Alt key to use it. Once I unlocked the hook though, I had to equip it and use it like a throwable item, and Alt did nothing.

 

According to the game save (I love it when games record playtime for you) I spent 22 hours and 48 minutes reaching 78% completion, which includes finishing the campaign. There are still a number of side missions to do and challenges to complete, so for a completionist that number will definitely go up. Then you can double it because there is a New Game+ option that works like they normally do. You also have the ability to reset your save's story progress, without resetting your inventory or levels, so you can redo missions with overpowered weapons, if you want.

Generally the experience is definitely fun and as you level up, you gain access to some fun abilities, like dropkicking zombies. (Good way to knock them off buildings, onto the ground to be finished off, and through walls… yes, I have kicked zombies through walls.) However, it does have some weird issues to it, such as the inconsistent grappling and most importantly the inability to drop down and grab a ledge. Still, the bulk of the experience is fun and enjoyable, if also unremarkable.




  1. Dying Light Review - Introduction
  2. Dying Light Review - Graphics
  3. Dying Light Review - Story
  4. Dying Light Review - Gameplay
  5. Dying Light Review - Additional Gameplay Media
  6. Dying Light Review - Conclusion
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