I missed out on Dying Light last year. As somebody who adores anything zombie related, me skimping out on Techland’s undead offering should be considered nothing short of an absolute travesty.
I had my reasons though. My PC, while still somewhat decent by today’s standards, lacked the RAM required to run the game. And then I got my PlayStation 4, but by that point (late 2015), the hype for Dying Light had long passed. As a result, I forgot it even existed.
Thankfully, this is one of those rare instances where my ignorance and horrible memory worked out in my favour. I finally got to experience Dying Light in its ultimate form, thanks to The Following: Enhanced Edition. It’s a package that contains both the base game and the new expansion, along with a bunch of other goodies that were not present in the original last year. Is it worth playing? Let’s take a look…
Is this thing Haraan?
Dying Light kicks off in quite a spectacular fashion. Players take control of Kyle Crane, who right from the beginning, we know is a mysterious operative for some or other government organisation out to obtain a mysterious file. He jumps from a plane, and parachutes straight into the city of Haraan – a place that is victim to some or other virus that’s made most of its inhabitants somewhat… hungry.
Not even a minute or so later, his landing goes horribly wrong, and he encounters a couple of bandits. In the ensuing scuffle, he gets bitten by a zombie. It wouldn’t be much of a game if he died then and there though, would it? No, Crane is luckily saved by other survivors. Unfortunately, one loses their life to the horde during the rescue.
Infected, and indebted to those that saved his skin, he is left no option but to pull his weight and take on jobs from the game’s main central hub – a building simply known as the Tower. Its inhabitants soon discover that Crane isn’t just any ordinary old survivor however – he’s good at getting jobs done. Why? Well, he just so happens to be an expert in combat, and somebody who’s also conveniently very good at parkour. The latter is what makes Dying Light a true standout in the flood of existing zombie titles.
Apart from being filled to the brim with the undead, Haraan is, in most places, a claustrophobic collection of close-knit buildings. Any ordinary human wouldn’t last a second in the narrow alleyways and streets that stretch throughout the city. Crane on the other hand, can navigate it all with ease, thanks to his handy climbing skills. Alessandro described it perfectly in his original review last year:
The slums of Harran are gorgeous to behold, especially at low light times such as dusk and dawn. Although inhabited by the undead, it absolutely blossoms with life that makes the lack of any fast travel nearly a non-issue. Becoming familiar with parkour routes and safe back alleys became one of my favourite pass-times thought my campaign, with the sheer amount of detail poured into the design of the city truly paying off.
It’s also notable that among the mess of abandoned cars and derelict buildings lie immaculately designed, well thought-out routes for you to run, jump and fall your way through. Dying Light brings together everything that a game like Mirror’s Edge was and mashes it together with former Dead Island attempts. You’re encouraged to fly rather than fight – rooftops become a safe haven from the hordes below and miss-timing a jump leads to a swift and untimely end. It’s interesting that a game primarily focused around zombie horror actually doesn’t derive fear from its players through these creatures, but rather through an undeniable sense of vertigo. Gravity is your greatest enemy in Dying Light, and it takes a while for you to truly understand how to tackle it.
It did take me a while to understand it all. I honestly think I died more times at the hand of a miss-timed jump then I did to an actual zombie.