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Dying Light: Will The Major Features Work?
Games in the zombie / horror genre have been done to death. I know that is not exactly the best sentence to start an article talking about an upcoming zombie game, but I wanted to stress what developers have had to deal with. Zombie games have had to evolve or die to make sure they don’t make a run of the mill game which many will write off in an instant. The Dead Rising series has chosen a humorous take in addition to letting you use just about anything you can get your hands on. Dead Space crossed the idea with science fiction tropes and while the Necromorphs are not necessarily zombies, the similarities are obvious. Call of Duty has used zombies as a side mode, a sort of arcade type mode, which features a mysterious story line which, if you are willing enough to find, is very deep and engrossing. These games are all brilliant examples of games which have twisted the genre to stand out from your average zombie game. Enter the new game from Techland, developers of Dead Island; enter Dying Light. This game will set itself apart, but will the changes to the genre actually work?
How will Dying Light be different? Well, picture this. Dying Light features a day / night cycle which is used in a very interesting way to alter how the game is played. During the day, the zombies are your stereotypical, shambling type. During the night however, the zombies transform into… something else. Fast zombies with changed character models and over developed anger problems. Scavenge during the day and hide like a little girl during the night (funnily enough, the recent gameplay demo features a little girl hiding!). This will, on its own, make Dying Light a different beast altogether than such games as Dead Rising and Dead Space. Will this be a feature that works away from the sales potential? Well going by the 12 minute gameplay released recently (below), it could, but it all depends on the zombies themselves. Excluding that the game is in very early stages, the video seems to show that the zombies in both settings sort of forget about you after a certain distance and not a far distance either. Zombies generally follow food to the ends of the Earth and they don’t give up, but what kind of an enemy does that? One plus point is that at the end of the gameplay trailer (can you have spoilers for trailers?) shows a night-zombie waiting in the shadows for the player to come near, only to pounce and show the creepy predator mouth that it has. Could zombies become more intelligent at night, learning tactics and waiting for you strategically? If so, THAT could be the major feature that makes it work and could be a great addition to the zombie lore.
The second major difference between Dying Light and the other zombie games is free-running. Free. Running. In fact, the gameplay looks extremely like Mirror’s Edge’ free running. The hands move in and out of view while the character runs, climbs, jumps and sometimes falls. It looks like a game of what would happen if Faith moved to a slum which subsequently became infected with a zombie virus. But it looks all too easy. During the day, it seems essential to stay up on the roofs of the buildings until absolutely necessary. The player in the 12 minute footage wants to show that going down to the ground level paths is difficult, but there is nothing to keep you down there. Only the occasional zombie on the roof of a building is any sort of threat, and the gameplay only shows one each time. During the night, you are encouraged to sneak around in the dark to avoid the aggressive version of the zombies. Surely this could be avoided unless, yet again, it is absolutely necessary? It seems like there is nothing to draw you away from free running at the moment and that could make Dying Light all too easy.
As yet, the game is untested, but taking from the videos and the information released so far, the game could turn out to be too easy. But then again, it is very early and Techland have previously done zombie genre games, such as Dead Island, although the response to that effort wasn’t always positive. Let us hope their next generation game will be as good as it is being made out to be.
Dyng Light is set for release on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC in 2014.