Game Review: "Dying Light"

Are you ready to use your virtual parkour skills to waste zombies?

Saw off that shotgun and start working on your cardio, because Dying Light has arrived and everyone’s inner zombie killer should be jumping for joy. The game comes from the same people behind the Dead Island series and borrows a lot of the combat mechanics we liked about that game. Hand-to-hand zombie combat (zombat?) is a nerve-racking exercise and, more often than not, your survival is not guaranteed.

Dying Light creates a manic landscape in a quarantined Turkish city that just happens to be infested with zombies. It’s an interesting setting, if somewhat generic, but it does a good job of being the backdrop for a game where community is the driving force of the plot and, surprisingly, parkour is a main attraction. Sure, you can take a pipe to a group of zombies, but Dying Light rewards alternative strategies, and the seemingly endless running and climbing possibilities of the world are a fascinating and fun way to approach a zombie game.

Enjoyable as the gameplay actually is, the story in Dying Light is the ho-hum blandness that is just enough of an excuse to justify tasks for you to do. The mundane conventions of gathering supplies and fortifying barricades are unimaginative reasons to encounter the wide variety of brain-eaters that the game offers up as cannon-fodder. And that’s OK. Pop culture has hammered home the zombie story so many times that giving one an engaging plot wouldn’t just be abnormal at this point; it’s ultimately unnecessary.

Dying Light does offer up glimmers of innovation, particularly in its handling of co-op gaming. Creating a hunting party with friends doesn’t just set you off together, it will also throw bonus objectives your way, surprises that make the interactions you have with your group more fun and rewarding. There’s also a DLC "Be A Zombie" mode that lets you jump into other people’s games—you guessed it—as a zombie to wreak havoc on their well-laid plans against the AI. It’s moments like this when Dying Light puts its best foot forward. (Which is also the most dangerous thing to do if you’re worried about zombies eating you.)

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