Dying Light Hands-On Preview
Dying Light was something of a shock to all when it first surfaced back in the summer. Coming from the same team at Techland that created the zombie survival horror open world title Dead Island.
Immediately you can see the influences from Dead Island. The sun drenched ramshackle shanty town look is very reminiscent of later stages of the game.
Influences aside though the game looked great. Running smooth and fast the environments were slick and well populated. Unlike the shambling, sometimes sparse, zombie hordes of their last game Dying Light throws a world well populated with foes to take on.
The demo starts by laying out the very simple control mechanics for you. Move with the left stick, mantle with the press of one button, attack with the other – dead simple.
So you scale a small awning, head through a building top, mantle over a wall and drop down on to a street – all in a series of simply executed flowing moves. You land, look around and “Holy Balls!” you’re surrounded by zombies and they really don’t look happy!
Then is strikes you… “Hey I wonder what this attack button actually does?”. Then you press it, a flash of axe and arcs of arterial spray adorn the screen and all seems right in the world! The unwieldy axe swings and tedious button mashing from Dead Island are gone here. These brutal melee moves are executed well and offer a huge amount of gratification. Enemies are felled in one or two well placed hits.
It’s not only the ease and gratification of the close quarters combat but the speed and movement of the whole game in general. Traversing the environment is rapid and easy allowing you to cover large areas of ground and perform massive leaps from building to building with absolute precision and ease.
Over the course of the five minute demo you were issued with a series of point to point objectives. These involved traversing the run down town and locating an area, then moving on to the next. It wasn’t clear from these brief few checkpoints how missions will play out in the full game but what was on show was fun enough.
Those five minutes spent with Dying Light were some of the fastest and most enjoyable of the entire show for me. I sat with a massively stupid grin on my face as I tore around the environment, embracing combat in a variety of way rather than avoiding it. The only thing I checked for that I felt was missing was the brilliant analogue based combat from the first Dead Island. That said I’m not entirely sure that method would sit with the fast paced nature of the gameplay.
The combat is great, the fluid mantling is well realised (and owes a lot to Brink and Mirrors Edge), the environment is gorgeous and the game runs at very smooth and slick pace. We didn’t see the much talked about night time phase. At night the hunters come out and the easy pickings of the day slip away as zombies get more and more aggressive. Here you must do all you can to just survive until dawn.
We will see how the rest of the packages pans out when the game sees its release next year on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.