Dying Light for PS4 Review: It Haunts My Dreams

I never thought I was afraid to walk outside in the dark, until I met Dying Light.

If you suffer from agoraphobia, acrophobia, thanatophobia, atychiphobia, and/or nyctophobia, venturing throughout the doomed city of Harran is not the place for you. If you never thought you had such conditions, then you might be surprised with what Techland has unlocked within you in their latest release Dying Light.

It's an open-world, survival horror game revolving around undercover operative for the Global Relief Effort (G.R.E.), Kyle Crane, who is on a secret mission to locate Kadir Suleiman, sent to infiltrate a quarantine zone in Harran. The city is a zombie-infested metropolis, due to a pandemic, with a dynamic day and night cycle that only seems to heighten the game's intensity.

Scavenging for supplies and crafting (mainly melee) weapons to defend yourself against the massive infected population with heavy parkour mechanics is its main focus. Unlocking safe zones, protecting certain survivors, going for airdrops, the numerous "fetching" side quests amongst the main storyline ties everything together.

The echoes of the screaming and noises they make, I felt like a little kid once again afraid of the dark.

The absolutely stunning graphics are the first thing that grabs my attention. While on the roof of a skyscraper, I was able to really take in the magnificent environment around me. Every detail from the sun glare to the wind breeze is on point--simply gorgeous. Even my father, who stopped over my house, commented on the game's graphics and he's not easily impressed.

There are numerous varieties of zombies to be found throughout this wasteland, all thanks to a mutation of the rabies virus.

Please remember to vaccinate your pets.

This mutation causes its victims to be vulnerable to sunlight, spreads through the exchange of bodily fluids, bites, scratches, and is broken into phases.

Phase One: Colonization (Virals and Goons)

Critical phase of the infection resembling a severe case of the flu. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, overall weakness, and blackouts. Antizin, in regular doses, is only effective for patients in this phase to slow down the disease's development--it's not a cure.

Phase Two: Breakthrough (Biters and Gastanks)

The victim gradually loses control over his/her actions, suffering from attacks of murdering rage occasionally interrupted by short periods of sanity. Their physical fitness isn't impaired which makes them extremely dangerous.

Phase Three: Transmission / Failed Breakthrough Transmission

This affects the mental capacity of its victims, degrading them to the most basic instincts - to attack other people, even those infected in the Colonization stage, to further spread infection. All remains of sanity and consciousness are gone, and most mobility is lost. Yet they are very active and aggressive at night.

Failed Breakthrough: (Demolishers, Toads, Bombers, Bolters, and Screamers)

For some, the infection does not develop properly and never reaches Transmission. They can't spread the virus, so they mutate rapidly, turning into bizarre-looking, bloodthirsty monsters.

Phase Four: Ascent (Volatiles and the Night Hunter)

At this end, they start to transform and gather in nests creating chrysalises. They emerge as extremely strong and intelligent Volatiles. All their original cells have mutated, giving Volatiles a monstrous appearance, superhuman strength, and mobility. Their only weakness is being vulnerable to ultraviolet light, which causes them physical pain, so they only hunt at night.

Skills

Survivor

By helping the survivors, you'll build your reputation while gaining their trust and help. Complete quests, recover air-drops, and rescue helpless survivors to get access to better weapons, more advanced traps, and rare items.

Agility
The parkour mechanics of Dying Light remind me of the game Mirror's Edge, but even better.

Agility experience points are gained from climbing buildings, jumping between rooftops, or escaping from night zombies. You'll get faster and unlock advanced parkour skills, which you'll notice by the way you move and overcome obstacles. You'll be able to unlock skills like Slide, Dropkick Bomb, Forward Roll, Vault, Tic Tac, and others.

Power

Power proficiency improves your strength to learn powerful attacks that increase your chances of survival. Gain Combat experience points with every blow you connect and creative kill you perform. You'll be able to unlock skills like Melee Throw, Kick Stun, Sturdiness, Ground Pound, Kill Frenzy, Power Attack, and others.

Collectibles

Zombie Statues

100 zombie statues in the most unlikely places.

Dying Light Gonfalons (Flags)

The gonfalons, or flags, are a laurel wreath for the runners. Placed in nearly inaccessible spots to test your parkour skills and creativity.

Voice Messages

Spotting working answering machine phones and listening to their messages, recorded by the Harran survivors. This will give you an additional glimpse of the horrors that took place.

Lost Notes

Loose pages on the table or pieces of paper pinned on the wall. Read them to learn more about quests and people you meet.

Marvin Zucker’s Battle Journal

Marvin Zucker is a young would-be science-fiction writer caught in the quarantine zone. Collecting his stories left behind allows you to discover the best tactics against the Infected.

Multiplayer


Dying Light features a 4-person co-op mode with drop-in/drop-out. It supports the single-player mode of the game for all to experience or just to help with the numerous side quests found throughout the game.

Co-Op Challenges

Special co-op challenges pop up in this mode. Some are quest-related, some are dynamically generated. Activate the challenge to add that competitive dynamic to your gameplay. Whoever wins gains extra experience points to one of their proficiencies.

Co-Op Combos

While playing co-op, you can also link your attacks to achieve combos.

  • Send an enemy flying with a slide or ground pound and let a teammate hit them in mid-air.
  • Vault off a zombie to stun them, so your friend can get behind and break their neck.
  • Grapple an enemy so a second player can vault them easily, while a third survivor takes a running start and finishes the stunned enemy with a devastating drop kick.
Invasions

When playing online, whether in single-player or co-op, be prepared for the invasion of the Night Hunter--the ultimate, terrifying zombie. When it happens, the game changes into a multiplayer match of up to 4 survivors against the player-controlled Night Hunter. Invasions suspend your story progress, but not the character development. Any experience gained helps you improve your skills and if you defeat the Night Hunter, you’ll receive a boost to your experience, as well as rare blueprints and crafting parts.

Note: Invasions won't happen if you’re playing offline and you can disable them during online play.

Be The Zombie (DLC)

This DLC mode expands the multiplayer aspect by allowing you to play as the Night Hunter and actively invade their games. One Hunter fights against a team of human survivors to hunt them down. They’re given a shared pool of respawns, and your objective is to reduce it to zero. The only thing you need to watch out for when playing as the Night Hunter are the Volatile nests, which the other players aim to destroy. If a set number of the nests are destroyed--you lose.

The survivor team is equipped with UV Flashlights that drain your stamina and render most of your skills unusable. The Night Hunter can only sustain so many hits, so try to eliminate them one by one, and don't expose yourself to the UV light for too long.

Verdict

Growing up in NYC, I was never afraid to roam the streets at night. Hearing the sounds of breaking bottles in the distance or someone yelling really didn't phase me. Yet, there is something absolutely terrifying about venturing the streets after dark in the fictitious city of Harran. Playing with my stereo headset didn't help my plight. I noticed my heart racing and the feeling of pure fear of the sounds all around me. Running for my life was constant, so much so, that I dreamt of the game's zombie hordes while I slept. The echoes of the screaming and noises they make, I felt like a little kid once again afraid of the dark. Thanks, Techland!

The parkour mechanics of Dying Light remind me of the game Mirror's Edge, but even better. Techland really did make sure all aspects of parkour were authentic and fluid. At first you'll be slow, a bit awkward until you get the hang of it and get some points into your skills. You'll notice a big difference in your movements when you do--trust me. You do have to "hit" your marks in a precise manner or you'll find yourself on the ground, surrounded, with half your health gone. The game's prompts aren't forgiving, so you'll need to master them quickly.

The first-person exploration is unbelievable. The game's sound adds only to the atmosphere. You actually feel like it's you jumping about the rooftops and climbing everything in sight. Being an acrophobic, I can't explain the sense of unease while walking across a crane on top of a huge skyscraper's rooftop. All while having the wind rock my character side-to-side only added to my tension and nausea. This is part of the game's authentic nature which I must say, makes you apart of it.

Where Dying Light fails to inspire is in its relentless "go fetch" missions. These are constant and even noted by the character. You find yourself racing to get them done during the day, because at night it's scary as hell. Each phase of the storyline is long, with so many steps and a lot of ground to cover, which results in failure a large majority of the time. This takes a toll on you as a player, because you don't feel like you're making any progress. The enemies you face, who are human, are packing far superior weapons way ahead of your ability to attain them.

Indiana Jones shot the guy wielding his sword around in the marketplace.

Some of the concoctions you can make to enhance your abilities, sometimes only hinder your other abilities to the point of "why use it in the first place." The "line of sight" limitations are frustrating when using a zip-line, and weapons also degrade quite quickly, so constant looting is a must. Not to mention, the pricing for weapons at the stores are ridiculous. 

Yet, if you're looking for the pure thrill of zombie kills and fear factor, it's gold. Lovers of Dead Island are in for a treat and those of Far Cry 4 are in for more of a challenge. The encounters, combat, running, and quarantine challenges add that extra "je ne sais quoi" we all look for in games like Dying Light. You'll certainly enjoy this Techland baby.

As it is said "Good night, Good luck."

Our Rating
7
I never thought I was afraid to walk outside in the dark, until I met Dying Light.
Reviewed On: Playstation 4

Featured Columnist

Venisia is really just a kid in adult form. She is a published author, photographer, artist, executive assistant, public relations coordinator, game writer, gamer of 35+ years, geek, nerd, singer, dancer, senior editor, freelance journalist, comic & film aficionado, podcaster, activist, and volunteer. Venisia is a huge fan of comics, anime, EVERY genre of gaming, dance, horror/martial arts films, Doctor Who, Daleks, Star Wars, Monty Python, Flash Gordon, Black Dynamite, and anything by Mel Brooks (who doesn't appreciate Spaceballs?).

Published Dec. 9th 2016
  • Jon_2686
    It needs to be played Co-op...that's where it really shines.
  • Stan Rezaee
    Featured Contributor
    I'm some what hesitant to play this after my experience with Dead Island. In theory it was a good game but the delivery was weak and the game got boring very quick. I worry I might have the same experience with this game as well.
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    It actually is a fun game--just scary at night. I can agree with Dead Island. Dying Light's issue is the "fetching" but the parkour is so much fun.
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Featured Correspondent
    I have yet the find the night scary. But it is much more tense, which is all I wanted, I didn't want a horror game. I wanted a game which was free and flowing in the day, and slow and purposeful at night.
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    Call me a wuss then lol. Those zombies at night, with my headphones, scare the hell out of me when I'm parkouring for my life and they're right behind me lol. :'(
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Featured Correspondent
    I think I just don't scare as easily after playing Amnesia: The Dark Descent at 2am, in the dark with headphones, while in the middle of a thunderstorm.
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    LOL

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