It's early days, but Dying Light lacks something to make it stand out from the horde.
By Patrick Stafford on June 18, 2013 at 10:48 am
This year’s E3 featured a surprising number of zombie-based games, and unfortunately, many seem to miss exactly what makes zombies so interesting.
Dying Light, developed by Dead Island studio Techland, gives some indications it may have something unique to offer. But at this stage, it’s far too early to tell.
In a hands-off demo shown to games.on.net on the E3 show floor, Techland revealed off a small portion of the game. The first-person game has the player take control of a character who lives in one of the “safe zones”, but heads out during the day to scavenge for supplies.
At the beginning of the demo, the player notices an aeroplane drop some supply crates. While the development team said these drops are random and completely optional, they do contain medicine which you will need to keep your zombie infection from taking hold (everyone is infected, apparently).
There are zombies everywhere. Given this is coming to next-gen consoles and PC as well, crowds are definitely huge. There were dozens upon dozens of zombies on the one screen. Of course, you’re not going to want to beat them all at once – combat is made up of more melee based weapons like axes and baseball bats, than guns.
Speaking of which, the combat system is craft-based and fun enough. We saw a machete become electrified, although we’re told there are plenty of other options.
In our demo, the player sped off to find the airdrop. Movement is swift and fluid, with a parkour vibe. Jumping over rooftops and sliding under fences, the player made his way to the airdrop – only to find it being raided by members of a nearby militarized faction.
These are just one of the obstacles you’ll have to deal with in the game – groups of enemies who want those supplies just as much as you do. They’re not going to share.
At one point, our player heard a scream and went to investigate – this was a possible side quest, the team said, although noted it was completely random and it may not happen if the game were restarted. Side quests will play a large part in the game, apparently, although this was the only once we saw.
The only major difference from other zombie games so far is the setting – nice, bright blue skies and rich colours give a nice contrast to the brutality of snapping zombies’ heads in half.
But it all becomes much harder after dark.
Staying out at night is bad news. The zombies begin to mutate, becoming much more powerful and fast. Stealth becomes much more essential, while a pulse-based focus mechanism allows you to see nearby enemies (part of the benefit of being infected yourself).
One enemy in particular, the ‘Volatile’, is so dangerous Techland developers told us you’ll need to “run back to safety or you will die”. Harsh. We watched our demonstrator quickly bash into mutated zombies while running towards the safe-zone – there’s definitely a more palpable sense of dread when running away at night.
All in all, this seems like a perfectly capable zombie game, but there’s nothing too unique here yet at all. If you’re after something new, look somewhere else. Dying Light looks fine, and fun, but so far it’s just yet another zombie game in an E3 full of them.