The team at Techland flexed their zombie-killing muscles with the Dead Island games, giving you a first-person perspective of the apocalypse as you bashed enemies to bits using whatever you could get your hands on. For its next go-around, though, the developers are taking a different approach to taking down the undead, with the much more visceral Dying Light .
In the game, you play a spry scavenger working with a crew of others to collect supplies that are dropped randomly around the local villages. Getting there isn't easy, however, as a number of zombies stand in your way, ready to feast on your flesh. Fortunately, you have a few skills to your credit.
First of all, like Dead Island, you can use a number of weapons to fend off zombies in first-person fashion. This includes knocking one aside with a weapon, like a modified wrench or machete, or even using a distraction tool to keep them occupied, like setting off a car alarm.
You can also use items around the environment to your advantage. For instance, traps will help you get an edge on your prey, frying them to a crisp or giving you a spiked wall to throw them against. In addition, defensive ones allow your getaway to be much easier, such as setting off a car alarm to get their attention while you work around them.
Traps aren't the only innovation in the game. Dying Light also comes with a promising weapon-building system. While not as crazy and over-the-top as Dead Rising 3 , it has its own level of ingenuity, and gives great tools of the trade to fight back with. Still, they only last so long, so don't rely on heavy firepower to get you back alive. You'll want to run when you can.
With the combat system, you don't want to strike too often. That's because with each swing you take, you use a certain amount of stamina, which ticks away at the bottom of the screen. Once you run out, you'll become tired very quickly, and your swings won't be as fast as they were at full strength. So you might want to take a couple of jabs, find a safe spot to recover for a second, then go back in and finish them off.
On top of your physical strength, Dying Light also gives your character some useful parkour-style capabilities. For instance, you can grab onto ledges and hoist yourself up, or make a running jump from rooftop to rooftop, so you don't have to deal with zombies waiting below if you don't prefer to. This also gives you the ability to reach higher ledges that would otherwise be unreachable on the ground, as you work your way up a train ladder, climb across a grating and eventually reach an overpass – where, unfortunately, a horde of zombies will be waiting.
One of the cool things about Dying Light is that you don't always have to follow the straight path. Sure, there are some situations where it appears there's only one way to get around, but with some exploration – preferably during the day, so you don't become an instant snack – you could find an alternate route to get where you're going. Since objectives are usually well highlighted on your screen, you should have no trouble finding a way to your destination. Just make sure you don't stir up too much trouble along the way. If you attract zombies and they follow you, they'll have to be dealt with on the way back.
Finally, the time of day plays a huge factor in Dying Light. During the day, you've got enough to deal with as it is, between having to complete missions and deal with zombies, as well as the occasional enemy force that tries to shanghai a dropped shipment before you can get to it. At night, however, the situation is even more dire, with the introduction of super-mutants that can make your life a living hell if caught.
One mission in particular asked us to chase after a shipment located on the other end of an island. We were able to reach it after dealing with a few zombies, but shortly thereafter, with the sun setting, we found ourselves having to carefully fight through situations to get back to the checkpoint in one piece.
The new creatures you'll go up against have heightened capabilities over the usual zombies, including acute senses of smell and hearing. If you get too close, it'll detect you right away, and you could very well lose a life as a result. Fortunately, the game's HUD gives you notification of where these things are, so you can avoid them accordingly and plan your next move.
With an ideal mix of fast-paced gameplay, just-right stealth mechanics and zombie-killing action, Dying Light could be one of the better titles for this coming generation of games, as well as Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, if those are your preferred platforms.
Look for Dying Light in 2014.
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