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Games : Highly Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: January 27th, 2015 Movie Release Year: 2015

Dying Light

Overview -

Developer Techland is no stranger to the zombie/action-horror genre, having created the hit game 'Dead Island' and its pseudo-sequel 'Dead Island: Riptide.' When the studio's follow-up was unveiled, it appeared at first glance that the game was the introduction of the tropical zombie basher to the new generation consoles. However, Techland and publisher WB Games surprised gamers by introducing an entirely new IP called 'Dying Light.'

Despite the claim of a fresh experience a new IP brings with it, right off the bat, 'Dying Light' needed more to distinguish itself. With 'Dying Light,' Techland unveiled a first-person action game where the player battles though a zombie-ridden open world using weapons of opportunity, while being invited to collect resources to craft outlandish upgraded implements of mass undead destruction. While this describes both 'Dead Island' games to a T, the developer promised both a new parkour free run first person system and a day/night cycle that ratchets up the difficulty level. These major features were promised as a means to completely redefine a familiar experience. The burning question leading up to release was if those would be enough to separate one IP from another.

Dying Light Xbox One review

OVERALL:
Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
VIDEO
AUDIO
Tech Specs & Release Details
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p
Audio Formats:
LPCM 7.1
Release Date:
January 27th, 2015

Video Review

Ranking:

The day/night cycle is one of 'Dying Light's' most important features and Techland's own Chrome Engine 6 handles these transitions impressively. Daybreak brings a slightly bluish hue to the environment as the intensity of the sunlight slowly increases to midday, blasting Harran in bright, neutral light. As evening approaches, the city washes into orange hues before darkness sets in. The sunlight pierces trees and other structures as the engine dials up the intensity of god rays for a stylistic touch.

Attention to small detail gives 'Dying Light' a decidedly "next-gen" feel. Trees blow around in the wind, as do small bits of trash and detritus, giving Harran a keener sense of life. While the zombies certainly look detailed, more impressive is their clothing, which flaps around in response to wind. The zombies also bump into each other and their environment in a realistic way. One particularly impressive instance was when I was trapped in a doorway and fighting off countless attackers pouring through. A pile of bodies began to accumulate and the newly arriving zombies climbed up onto the lumpy, unsteady mass, often losing balance and falling while trying to approach me.

Other visual elements of the game did not fare so well. Textures are extremely hit or miss. Certain textures, like the baked and cracked asphalt of Harran city streets, looked sharp, but quite a few others, like rocks and earth, are extremely muddled. Interior environments were reused extensively making much of Harran seem like one big pre-fab city.

Audio Review

Ranking:

The audio in 'Dying Light' is made up primarily of sickly groans and blunt force traumas. Effects-wise, the game is competent but not more than what I really expected it to be. Voice acting is on the hammy side of the cliché meter, which is par for the course in a game taking place in a zombie apocalypse.

Much of the game's score is a sublime throwback to the synth-driven scores of Giallo Horror and John Carpenter films from the '70s and '80s. However there are also moments in the score punctuated by the now-overused style of Middle Eastern singing that every movie and video game taking place east of the Mediterranean has used since 'Black Hawk Down.'

Final Thoughts

'Dying Light's parkour mechanics are polished, easy to get into, and quite complementary of the whole fight or flight with zombies experience. The combat is solid with a nice mix of capable zombie fighter and too many to handle aspects. The game can be quite electrifying, and there are impressive details that push the game's sense of immersion forward. What's more, its day/night cycle is exhilarating and, more important, brings with it as many thrills as rewards. Unfortunately 'Dying Light' also suffers several nagging flaws. Chiefly the repetitive aesthetics and uneven graphics quality detract noticeably from the overall fun.

What it comes down to is there was always something in the game pushing me forward. Whether it was saving a kidnapped mother or delivering a supply drop to earn more experience points, 'Dying Light' was difficult to put down