I believe people like zombie movies, games, and series because zombies are undead, unfeeling, engines of horrific hunger. Therefore, when battling them, we can shed our humanity and destroy them in the most primal, brutal ways possible without guilt or regret. In fact, we enjoy the carnage. Dying Light provides a basic story, balanced with exploration, weapons, and lots of zombie wrecking joy.
Dying Light was released in 2015 by Polish game developer, Techland, and made its way onto the Nintendo Switch in 2021. The game revolves around a zombie outbreak in the fictional Mid-Eastern city of Harren. The city has been walled off to contain the virus, and the GRE (Global Relief Effort) provides daily supply air drops to trapped survivors. Your role is as Kyle Crane, a gutsy GRE agent who parachutes into Harren to recover a formula which may provide a cure to the outbreak. However, the formula is incomplete and in the possession of one of the city factions. If the formula gets out of Harren in its present form, it will spread the virus. Your orders are to retrieve the formula by any means necessary.
Dying Light provides this information in the first ten minutes of the game. After that, you literally hit the ground, and quickly come face to face with members of the two factions, and your first zombies. In short order, you enter the Tower, your primary base of operations, as just another survivor, and begin undertaking missions to build their trust in you, following leads on the formula, and secretly communicating with the GRE. How you progress along these lines is totally up to you.
Dying Light caught my interest by being an open world game within the confines of a sealed off city. The parkour feature of the game is easy to learn and useful in getting out of reach of zombie hands. The vertical element of the city open up new avenues of travel and exploration. Scaling the sides of buildings and jumping roof to roof feels more like being Daredevil than a normal human, and once you obtain the Grappling Hook, you can go full on Spider-Man, pulling yourself to high rooftops, and even down from great heights to safely land on a car. The parkour becomes situational as you traverse the outskirts of the city, along the coast, through road tunnels, and across a zombie-filled suspension bridge.
Components and Weapon Upgrades
The benefit of exploration is gathering cash and components. Cash is spent in the Shops and Quartermaster to purchase weapons, ammo, and some components. The majority of components though will be looted from zombie corpses, but more often found in cabinets, baskets, car trunks, and especially inside locked containers and trucks. Check everywhere.
Dying Light‘s crafting system allows for a variety of weapon designs and upgrades, all of which can be performed anywhere, once you have necessary materials. No crafting table or safe zone required.
Harren has many locked vehicles, doors, and footlockers. Luckily, lockpicking is a known skill, requiring only having lockpicks in your Inventory to utilize. Locked items can contain rare components, weapons, new blueprints, and more. The color of locked items identifies if they are Easy, Medium, Hard, or Very Hard to open. The difference determines the range of precision needed when adjusting the pick.
While stocking up on lockpicks is a good idea, those metal parts are also needed to repair your melee weapons, so ration accordingly. Lockpicking is also a real time activity that dominates your screen, so keep an ear open for approaching threats.
Searching zombie corpses is performed with the click of ‘Y’, but you will have those occasions when you find a good kill spot and destroy wave after wave of undead, leaving you with a tangled pile of splattered bodies to search. No worries. Heal, repair or craft items, and in a few minutes, the bodies will despawn, leaving the loot behind for you to pick up with ease.
The Camouflage skill is very useful for large scale looting. Masking your scent with the gore of a fresh kill allows to move unnoticed among the undead. Engaging in combat will cancel the effect. An advanced Camouflage skill allows you kill zombies while remaining camouflaged.
Beware The Night
Dying Light has a day and night cycle, though the night hours are substantially shorter than the day. You will receive warnings from the Tower as night approaches. This is a good thing, because there are several kinds of zombies in Harren and the strongest, fastest, and fiercest of them prowl the night. These monsters mean certain death when you first encounter them, but as you improve your weapons and skills, they can provide a nice resource for skills points. It is not necessary to kill them. Just surviving the night awards skill points, and all points earned during the night are doubled.
Practically everything you do in Harren; parkour, killing zombie, securing supplies, helping others, surviving the night, awards Skill points.
Survivor points are earned by completing quests, turning in airdrop supplies, and surviving the night outside a safe zone. Agility points are earned through parkour activities. It pays to climb and jump instead of remaining on the ground. Power points were the easiest for me to earn, because I love killing zombies. That’s all that’s required.
Legend levels are unlocked once any of the other three skills are maxed out, allowing you to apply those subsequent advancements toward preferred areas of focus.
Dying in Harren transports you to the nearest safe zone; secure them as you move through the city so you do not have to backtrack from across the map. You retain your Inventory, but suffer a Survivor point reduction.
While running/jumping around Harren, you will occasionally encounter a Survivor in need of assistance. They can be under attack by zombies or thugs. It is your choice to save them or not. Saving them provides reward, but doing nothing has no negative impact on your standing or the story.
Survivors are unaffected by friendly fire. Unloading a hail of bullets will cut down whomever is attacking them, but leave them unscathed. Survivor scenarios appear to rotate, so regardless if you initially help them or not, you will encounter them again, in the same mess.
I have not completed Dying Light‘s main story or many of the side quests and challenges, but I have enjoyed my experience so far. I am sure there are still plenty of surprises ahead. I am an immersive player and accept the somewhat aged graphics and impossible physics as part of the game world. All in all, it was a good purchase and the perfect vent for those days when I need to behead a bunch of zombies.
Have you played Dying Light? What are your thoughts on it?