Being in something of a random mood, I scrolled through my list of games and selected one blindly. I landed on Dying Light and smiled. Dying Light is a first person survival zombie game. Dropped into a town where a plague has broken out, you’re dealing with the Walking Dead on steroids. The game focuses heavily on parkour so the entire time you’re running, you’re also jumping over walls, cars, everything your feet can touch! Movement is very fluid and the play is intense. You even get a fun grappling hook to help you zip over the terrain faster. Heights are especially fun! And there are some bridges that are jam packed with crashed cars, that make travel awkward; being trapped up on those is nerve-wracking! The basic idea, like many FPS games is that you’re given a quest, and you go out to achieve the goal, come back to the safe haven with whatever you have found and upgrade stats and abilities. Quest, complete, upgrade, repeat. Exciting, but fairly run of the mill. However, to make matters more exciting, day is actually followed by a night and the dying light signals terror.
When night falls, believe me, the action is intense. Look, when I played Deadwood, I was genuinely nervous about the nights, but it was that tension that says “I just have to stay in one safe place and hope for the best”. In Dying Light, it’s terrifying. I mean, it is dark and you’re literally running through a destroyed town with a flashlight hoping that whatever is out there with you, doesn’t know you’re out there with it. There are creatures that hunt at night and if you don’t find a safe place to hide, you are almost sure to get caught. And that’s unpleasant, to say the least.
The sounds in the game is intense, and actually a real part of the appeal. I play with a surround sound system and hearing things behind you is utterly disturbing in all the best ways. The game is a 2015 release by Techland Publishing so the graphics are starting to look a bit dated, but not significantly enough to matter. The developers have released enough new content that I have not had a chance to try that I may have to go back to it for reevaluation soon. I loved what I had played and a replay is definitely overdue.
My son and I even played in multiplayer for a while which was equally unnerving, but we made the mistake of playing with the same characters we had already completed the main game with. I say this is a mistake because by that point, you’ve upgraded your character to a point that he is already pretty powerful and it took away some of the excitement of being hunted. The fear factor is a key ingredient to the enjoyment of the game. But following each other over rooftops and to the next quest item was exciting… just probably best not to look down.
I picked up Dying Light when it was new for $60 but put nearly 90 hours into the game. These days Dying Light is still retailing for $40 and you’ll definitely get the playtime out of it. As frequent visitors to the Junkyard know, I see a relationship between how much I spend with how much content there is and Dying Light offers enough playtime to warrant the money. If you want something completely new, this isn’t it. But if you want an exciting, fun, tense, first person game, this is a good contender.
Glad I finished writing this when I did. The sun has almost set… ML