hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Dying Light is less about zombies and more about movement

12:30 PM on 06.23.2014 // Brett Makedonski

Go somewhere, anywhere

What can be done freshen up the zombie genre at this point? Videogames, television shows, movies, comics -- virtually every pop culture medium's been infested by the craze, long ago hitting a saturation (and then oversaturation) point. So, how does a developer like Techland, who's most well-known recently for its zombie games, take the concept and still manage to make it its own?

Techland's creating a game about zombies, that isn't really about zombies. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, that's what it's doing with Dying Light. And who knows -- maybe that's the take on the undead genre that'll liven it up a bit.

Dying Light, rather than being about zombies, is about movement. It doesn't take long to figure this out. Every facet of the game is designed around traversal. The zombies that litter the landscape are less active enemies, and more active obstacles to discourage any disingenuity when getting around.

Spanning the open-world map looks as if it'll be an enjoyable exercise, with moments of frustration peppered in due to the drawbacks of the methods at-hand. Best described as a Mirror's Edge-esque free-running system, isolated incidents of climbing buildings, mantelling over ledges, and jumping over a gap can be thrilling -- like a well-executed combo in a fighting game.

However, first-person platforming is a fickle mistress, and the inherent irritations spring up often enough to be noticeable. Exactly what you can climb and how far you can jump are issues that take continuous trial-and-error to solve, especially given that you can feel the character's weight in a sense that you just know he's not capable of everything, even if sometimes it seems like he's totally capable of anything.

Being a game about movement, it's a no-brainer that these free-running mechanics will be employed constantly. Guided at all-times by a waypoint on a mini-map, players are best served sticking to roofs and avoiding the ground when searching for the next objective. Techland rewards that style, as almost every climb and jump earns experience points toward agility, hopefully ensuring that the player will eventually feel less clumsy and more confident in their actions.

Although taking the roads isn't advisable, it's definitely feasible -- at least for half the game. During the daytime, zombies are generally weak and slow enough that combat isn't completely ill-advised. However, combat can seem like a chore, as the melee system has that clunky, unwieldy feel about it that just isn't pleasurable to use. Even if there are some neat improvised weapons on display (less a novelty, and more a staple of zombie games by now), avoiding interaction altogether is the more enjoyable route.

Keep in mind, that's all when the sun is up. At nighttime, discard any ideas of engaging the zombies because it'll most likely just lead to imminent death. That's when the Volatiles -- the worst of the worst in Dying Light come out --  and the need for discreet and deliberate movement is higher than ever. The mini-map graciously provides a coned effect to represent each Volatile's field of view, and its value is indescribable. In the event that it's impossible to stay hidden from these, the next best course of action is to take advantage of the game's traversal system in any given direction -- just make sure it's quick.

As Dying Light progresses, it's remarkable to see the transformation of the mechanics, presumably all that acquired experience paying dividends. Warped from an early-game setting to somewhere significantly later, the difference in my character's abilities were almost like day and night (to draw an apt analogy from Dying Light).

All of a sudden, getting around just seemed easier. The uncertainties that plague the whole first-person platforming situation still existed, but everything that worked worked better. Climbing was faster and more fluid. Jumping had some much-appreciated extra distance to it. There was even a handy grappling hook of sorts that yanked me to whatever was targeted; it almost felt like cheating in a way.

It was at this point that a Techland developer requested for me to climb down to fight a few zombies. He wanted to show off some of those gadget weapons, like ones that added electric or fire damage to the melee attacks. I briefly obliged, but was still unenamored. I couldn't wait to get to back to the roofs and just move about the buildings.

It's fitting that Dying Light is about movement, because it's by far what it does the best. At times, it's unclear how substantial your objective is, just that you're moving toward something. Maybe the objective is only to survive. That'd make sense. For all the zombie material that focuses on attacking the undead, it's an unwise approach. Much smarter would be running, jumping, and climbing to get as far away from them as possible. Dying Light ensures you'll do plenty of that.

Brett Makedonski, Associate Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Donski3 Tips
Brett will sell you things in a dark alley -- mostly counterfeit watches and kidneys. Not counterfeit kidneys, though; even I have my lines, man. Guaranteed: All my kidneys are completely legit. ... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

ikiryou avatarikiryou
Went to play MGSV, got prompted to download the MGO data; it's not on the PS Store yet. Or maybe it's Kojima-san's way of telling me it's not the real MGO data, but is instead a janitor who once protected me from a puddle of pee and now wears my face.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Going grey >>>>>>>>>>> Going bald
Rudorlf avatarRudorlf
Recently watched the Cannon Films documentary, by the director of Not Quite Hollywood. Super entertaining, hilarious, and it almost made me want to watch some of the Cannon films. Almost.
CaimDark Reloaded avatarCaimDark Reloaded
PEOPLE! PEOPLE! PEOPLE! Tomorrow I'm meeting Shade of Light in RL!
able to think avatarable to think
Tip for those who have plasma TVs and are playing MGSV; go into settings and make the weapon icon only appears when you're aiming. I had to buy a new TV because the weapon icon got permanently burned into my plasma.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
Any of you cute little butts gonna be at London Comic Con?
Jiraya avatarJiraya
You felt your sins crawling on your back... [youtube][/youtube]
Halflocke avatarHalflocke
what was the first game that used crowd motivated you to contribute ?
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
Mad Max, Critters and some The life and times of Tim to finish the night. T'was a good day.
techsupport avatartechsupport
I was excited to learn one of my favorite Philip K. Dick novels, The Man in the High Castle, would be receiving its own TV show. After watching the pilot, I'm cautiously optimistic. Looking forward to the rest in November.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
I'm going to be honest; this is my new favourite line in anything ever. GOTY 2015 and all that. Also cocks: [img][/img]
I thought Laura Kate's Destiny piece for Polygon was pretty neat.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
Bungie have decided Kojima isn't the only one who can do 4th wall breaking shenanigans. Congratulations Destiny players, you're all now The Taken King.
I have (jokingly) wanted a remake/sequel to Geist. And then I went to YouTube to watch a longplay to see it in action again and thought, "nevermind!"
The humblest person I know avatarThe humblest person I know
I'd been worried that Jim had been losing his sanity with all the Steam sludge he's always attacking. If you've been feeling the same way, good news. His new vid warmed that void and reminded me that I follow him because he had no sanity to start with. ;)
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Reading the Star Citizen expose reminded me of the whole Firefall mess last year. [url=""]Found the gamefront article [/url]
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
I went from listening to the soundtrack of SMT IV, to the soundtrack to Mario Kart 8, Smash 4, Fire Emblem, and now chilling with some Mother 3. All of it was pretty awesome by the way.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
After the 11th, I'm going into cryosleep until SMT IV Final is out. I'm sure Mike, Occams and Strider can manage without me. [img][/img]
TheLimoMaker avatarTheLimoMaker
In need of another writer for my monthly blog on the PS Plus games. Given how nobody really reviews all of them (and after spending time downloading bad ones), I thought it'd be a nice time to try and do it for the PS users out there. So... Need some help
Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom is a thing...TT_TT
more quickposts


destructoid's previous coverage:
Dying Light

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -