I played a lot of good games during E3, but one of the games that stood out to me was Dying Light, the first-person action, survival horror game by Techland (being published by WBIE).
The game is set in an open world with urban areas and cities for your to roam, where an epidemic has turned folks into zombies who want to make minced meat out of you and anything with a heartbeat. During my demo at E3, I was shown two pieces of the game – one early on, and a second much deeper into the game to show me what was possible once my character was better developed.
In the initial part of the game, I was in a village as an inexperienced character. I was able to explore my environment, while also being tasked with finding and getting to a tower. What you find out early on is that you are able to climb up anything that is within reach. Whether that means you simply walk up to it and climb, or perhaps having to first get on top of another structure, vehicle, or whatever is available to you. What makes things really creepy in this game is your surroundings. Regardless of where I was standing, I could hear the sounds of zombies at every corner, whether they were right next to me or not. Many times I kept turning my head in paranoia, even in daylight, and the fact that your character is very vulnerable only exasperates things more.
Unlike other zombie games where the main character can unleash hell on anything in his path, Dying Light reminds you immediately that you are anything but. You can develop your skills along the way but you can be killed easily and every fight could be your last. Fortunately there are also an array of weapons to find and also create, such as with Dead Rising 3. In a later section, when I had more skills, I was able to create an electric axe, as well as a spiked bat. These do much more damage than regular weapons, and you can also activate stronger weapon attacks which results in some slow motion death blows that are both bloody and brutal.
At night, things get really dicey though. Not only is your vision truly impaired, but there are these zombies that move extremely fast and come after you in numbers if they spot you. You can see them moving around the map so you have the ability to try and avoid them as much as possible, but if you get their attention, you better run. Oh and by the way, running isn’t enough as they can catch up to you, so you’ll need to jump over fences, climb buildings, and at times, say your prayers and attack them back.
In the later part of the demo, I was on top of a building in an area called Old Town, being followed by zombies, and I was able to find a grappling hook that took me across a town square onto a much taller building to escape my enemies. Fortunately my climbing abilities had also been upgraded as the speed of my climbing had increased.
Graphically the game looked pretty impressive too, having played it on a PC, though it’s also being developed for the PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360. Enemies were highly detailed and the environment looked excellent. Lighting is going to be a big part of this game, and how you make use of it, so having very distinct shadows, rays of light and various degrees of light (lamp posts, flash lights, etc.), fortunately is highly accurate.
Having only gotten a brief glimpse of what is possible in this game, I’m both excited and a little scared of what’s to come when I finally get to play the full game upon its 2015 release. There are many zombie games out there but few are legitimately spooky. Dying Light is one of those and Techland may have a winner here.