Whether you’ve gotten the idea from this page or not, the fact is that I love movies, books, games, and writing. Not necessarily in that order, but that’s the order my fingers demanded I write them in. So there’s that. I’ve played a LOT of games, I’ve written about a few here, and I talk about them frequently with my friends. Hell, I’ve been streaming quite a bit on Twitch since I got my PS4 a bit more than a year ago. (I still find it strange mostly talking to myself, so I don’t often broadcast with my microphone on.) If you’ve been paying any attention to my Twitch page recently, then you know I’ve been playing a LOT of Dying Light.
A few things you need to know about me and my relationship with horror, the undead, and the horror-survival videogame genre. I don’t generally write in horror; it doesn’t interest me much, and never really has. On the whole, I find horror films silly and mostly going for over the top gore and cheap theatrical tricks to scare the audience. I find suspense much more appealing; what you see on screen in a horror film is make up and faked. What is done in suspense films is almost purely mental, and almost certainly possible; what one can do with such tools… Well, lets just say that I’ve taken pleasure in plying psychological warfare in a few stories. But I don’t write much about the undead… In my opinion, the old stories, legends and mythology are the best. What they don’t cover, Dungeons & Dragons covered to my satisfaction, so with the rare exception, I don’t write about them. They’re fine as they are.
While my bias against horror films can’t really be carried over to videogames (the characters, while perhaps photorealistic and carrying verisimilitude, are completely fictional and you don’t identify with them in the same way as actors on screen) I just haven’t been interested in the gore factor for the most part. I played the original Resident Evil on the first generation PlayStation, along with its sequel, but as I write this, I’m finding myself hard pressed to name a single horror genre game that I played since that time until the release of Left 4 Dead and its sequel. Truth be told, I played those two for the social interactions with some friends I rarely get to see, though I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t enjoy them.
A few years ago, Dead Island came out to rave reviews and I considered picking the game up. A few friends raved about it but I wasn’t in any hurry to play it. It just wasn’t my thing, though I was admittedly curious. A couple years passed, I got engrossed in The Last of Us, which while technically a horror game was, I’d say, far more of a suspenseful game than horror. But then (to get to the point)… Techland released Dying Light. My buddy, looking to use a Sony supplied weekend coupon accidentally purchased it after watching some streams of it being played by some reviewers. Upon release, he immediately got sucked into the game and ranted and raved about it. But he’s far more into horror than I am, I thought. It’s right up his alley.
And it is. He suggested I check it out but acknowledged that it might not be all that interesting to me, so using SharePlay over PSN, I played for a couple hours on release day. I’m not going to say it was the best experience of my life, but I found it very engrossing. I did get slightly motion sick, which I attributed at the time (and apparently correctly) to the disconnect between my PS4, the approximately 2,000 miles between us, and uncounted miles that the digital video traveled from his home in the Seattle area and mine in Detroit, and for the control signals I sent back to have effect. Mind you, everything was nearly instantaneous, with no noticeable lag, but there was something that caused me to develop a headache in that short time I played. Nonetheless, I played for another 3 hours over SharePlay two days later. The next day, my payday, I bought the game, and I’ve played almost nothing but Dying Light ever since.
Though it is indeed a horror survival game, it’s like saying Grand Theft Auto is a driving game. There’s so much more to the game than simply surviving. There are tons of side missions to be performed, and when you don’t feel like doing a mission, you can roam and explore the open world environment, fighting and killing the various types of zombies for fun and profit. There’s a distinct role playing game element to it as well, as you don’t just look for weapons to kill all these monsters, but you learn new skills to fight and evade them, not to mention learn how to craft new tools and weapons along the way. Unlike Destiny, not all of the missions are “go here, kill that”; more than one has been to find and recover something for some one, or to go save someone in trouble. One of my favorite missions… Well, you’ll just have to play it yourself…! Get bored just running around? Play with a friend! The game supports at least 4 players in co-op mode, though they only recently fixed a bug that kept me crashing back to the PlayStation home screen.
To make it even better, I don’t know how many hours I’ve put into it thus far, but I’m only just now reaching the 50% completion mark. I don’t mean to pile on to Ready at Dawn’s problems and join a bandwagon bashing the apparent 5-10 hour length of The Order: 1886, but if you get into Dying Light, you will be playing it for a very long time. Techland did a kick-ass job on Dying Light, in my opinion, and it makes me wonder what I missed with Dead Island.
The game isn’t perfect, however. There are the occasional bug that you’ll hit, like the co-op crash I mentioned above, and there was an easy way to exploit another bug (a race condition I do believe) to duplicate items but it was patched. Though that particular duplication bug is history, there’s another one that’s slightly more difficult, but just as reliable. It’s only a matter of time until it’s patched too, but as you can see, there are both positive and negative bugs in the game. I’m sure Techland is hammering away on them even as I write this, but aside from the now dead co-op crash, I haven’t encountered any show stoppers.
So what do I think of Dying Light? If you like killing zombies, you will probably love the game. If you like parkour, you’ll probably have a hell of a lot of fun in the game as well. Is it worth the $60? I personally say hell yes, and I’m definitely considering the season pass to get any expansions that might be released. Should you buy it? That’s up to you. Take a few of my broadcasts for a drive and decide for yourself.