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Dying Light Preview

Nick_Tan By:
GENRE Action 
PUBLISHER Warner Bros. Interactive 
M Contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

What do these ratings mean?

Don't be caught dead.

Many would expect Techland, the developer behind the popular zombie apocalypse known as Dead Island, to extend their mainstay franchise with graphically enhanced sequels, but it understands that if the company is to survive the next generation of consoles, a new IP is in order. Techland is banking on Dying Light, a first-person action title that still remains in the zombie box but introduces a more consistent open world, parkour elements, and a vicious day and night cycle.

That said, Dying Light could still be described as an enhanced Dead Island with merely a different name, though it's obvious that Techland has learned much from its prior work. The open world, set in the urban districts of Turkey, teems with decay. As the number of infected grows, the craggy buildings erode at the seams, running water runs scarce, and the narrow streets are like greasy, rotting skin, festering with weeds, flies, and corpses. The sheer quantity of objects—books, dryers, noisy TVs, rotating fans—inside every abandoned home makes it truly feel as if someone had lived there only weeks before. The wound upon civilization is fresh.

During the day, the infected remain mostly pacified and the visibility by virtue of the sun (not sure if it ever rains but that would be a neat twist) makes your life easier as a freerunning scavenger who must scour the streets for supplies and run toward airdropped shipments that can be claimed by "vultures" who reach it first. Survival of the fittest and the fastest is the only law governing the city now. This doesn't mean that the infected will let you waltz by, and a horde of them still pose a threat, particularly those with tank-sized demons. But the odds are stacked in your favor in a one-on-one fight so long as you have a baseball bat in hand, some decoys made at the camp by combining phermones and firecrackers, and a penchant for swift kicks to the undead.

During the night, though, even the smallest zombie can become a killer as the lack of daylight turns them all into fierce beasts who would love nothing better than to chase you down and feel the panic run from your face. This is where your parkour skills, already useful for exploring the dilapidated landscape, come in handy, as you can scale buildings, leap across gaps, and glide into holes that the infected cannot. The fluidity and movement control between each move harkens back to Mirror's Edge, except of course with the tension and prospect of being eaten alive.

The cyclical nature of the day-night gameplay, as you might suspect, might get repetitive and expected over time, so I hope that there are plenty of quests and survivors to rescue, interesting NPCs who aren't terible stereotypes, and multiplayer modes. Techland is extremely tight-lipped on the multiplayer aspects, though a four-player cooperative drop-in/drop-out system has been planned. Whether that means you'll be able to choose among different characters or create your own hasn't been revealed yet, though if it's anything like Dead Island, the answer is dead ahead.

Dying Light arrives in 2014 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
More GR previews for this game:
Dying Light preview posted on 06/14/13.
Dying Light preview posted on 06/17/14.
Dying Light preview posted on 12/12/14.

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