Dying Light has been re-released in a more tempting package, which includes all previously released DLC including its new standalone expansion entitled The Following. Aptly titled Dying Light: The Following – Enhanced edition, I had loads of fun going back to Dying Light and then heading into The Following. Check out the original review below followed by the impressions of The Following.
Dying Light follows Kyle Crane, an undercover operative for the GRE (Global Relief Effort) who is dropped into the fictional city of Harran. His mission is to find a political figure who has gone rogue and is in possession of a file that could possibly destroy the reputation of his agency. This would be significantly easier if Harran has not been hit rather hard by a virus that has turned the majority of the population into aggressive zombie-like creatures. After being dropped into Harran, Crane is rescued by some survivors from a sanctuary known as the Tower. It isn’t long after he is rescued that Crane becomes a ray of hope for the survivors in the sanctuary.
Dying Light’s story isn’t particularly gripping and the characters suffer from not being fleshed out enough. Even the main villain is a little cliche. The plot progresses from start to end while being fairly straightforward. Additionally, there aren’t too many surprises either.
Side missions are great and provide a good distraction when not playing the main story. Helping survivors with their missions can be rather interesting as you discover what their requests may be; to either survive their daily lives or for something important or sentimental that they may have left behind somewhere. While some of these do result in a simple fetch-quest, there were often times when the first part of the quest may have seemed simple but then escalated into something a little more interesting. I quite liked how many of the side missions had multiple parts.
Gameplay takes place from a first-person perspective and initially feels like Techland’s previous zombie outing, Dead Island. Shortly after the start of the game, this is further enhanced by implementing a parkour system, which works really well once you get used to it. On consoles, the parkour might feel a little strange at first, due to the jump button being mapped to the shoulder buttons on the controller. Once players get used to this placement, however, they will be able to weave over obstacles and across rooftops with the greatest fluidity. It really adds a new strategy and verticality to the gameplay.
The early hours of Dying Light can be a bit of a challenge due to combat not feeling as accurate as it could be. Additionally, the common zombies found around Harran can take quite a bit of damage before dying…again. This is a temporary struggle as players will soon unlock new skills through the game’s progression system, which will allow them to effectively fight zombies or flee from a mob of them – dropkicking zombies is immensely satisfying and is highly recommended.
The game features a dynamic day-and-night system which will affect the type of enemy that players will encounter. A different, faster type of zombie prowls at night and can make your life an undead hell – see what I did there? Navigating Harran at night is usually a stealthy affair and can also be quite terrifying the first few times that you experience the night cycle outside of a safe zone. Being spotted by one of these quick-footed horrors usually means one thing; run for your life until you can find a safe zone. I remember running from a night zombie and managing to lose it after sliding into an open concrete construction pipe. I thought that I had evaded my pursuer until a second enemy started inspecting my position. This instantly started a second chase. It’s an exhilarating experience that really makes you feel vulnerable. While it may seem like suicide, venturing out during night time is great for levelling up as players gain an increased amount of XP.
Exploration is a very important part of Dying Light. Harran is open to explore from the very start, which is a good thing. Investigating abandoned houses or stores are imperative to a player’s survival. It’s very rare that a player will loot a house and not find something useful. Medkits are the first thing that can be crafted but more blueprints can be found at traders, or as a reward for completing a mission. Blueprints make things rather interesting as it allows you to make modifications to simple items to transform them into a weapon with some serious power. Personally, electrified weapons are my favourite.
There are a number of firearms available in Dying Light but they should only be reserved for desperate situations. This is mainly due to the fact that the sound of gunfire attracts Virals, an agile and dangerous zombie type that excels at close-quarters combat; they’re actually able to duck and sidestep your attacks. The same applies to Bandits; they’re rather formidable at close range and are also able to throw knives at you from a distance. Groups of them can become quite overwhelming in a hurry if their numbers aren’t whittled down fast enough.
In terms of multiplayer content, Dying Light has a “Be the Zombie” mode, in which a player can invade the game of another while playing as a quick zombie able to zipline across the map using its tendrils. It can be a lot of fun hunting as the zombie and is especially challenging when invading a lobby with 2 players in it.
Dying Light also features a drop in/drop out co-op mode. This mode is quite enjoyable and allows four players to be in the same lobby, whether it’s just hunting and taking out zombies or tackling the campaign missions. Matchmaking could be a little better in this regard but once you’re in a lobby, it works quite well.
Dying Light: The Following
Dying Light: The Following once again follows Kyle Crane as he ventures from Harran into the countryside to investigate reports of a group of people immune to the virus from the first game, which has turned Harran into a desolate city overrun with flesh-eating zombies.
There Crane discovers the “Children of the Sun”, a religious cult confirmed to be immune to the virus. Wanting answers, Crane goes in search of a woman revered by the villagers and mysteriously known only as “the Mother”. However, no one is really talkative with the stranger about their immunity and Crane is forced to help out where he can in order to gain their trust and ultimately, enter their inner circle.
While The Following’s story is bursting with ideas for possible plot twists, it does feel a little squandered. Most of the main missions involve investigating, fetching and killing things. This is all good and dandy, but it does feel a tad underwhelming. However, this is not to say that there are no plot twists. Some quests had some surprising endings and the arc with the Mother and her acolytes will enough to keep you going until the very end.
The gameplay is where The Following shines, Unlike the main game, there are less opportunities to use parkour as the map is mostly wide open areas. However, the lack of parkour opportunities is compensated for with the introduction of the buggy. The buggy makes its presence felt very early on and remains a viable method of transportation from start to finish. Without it, every trip outside of a safe area is an extremely long walk. Additionally, it functions as a decent ram when trying to get through a small group of infected. It isn’t invulnerable, however, as too much damage will require some repair work done to the various parts of the vehicle. The cage of the buggy can be upgraded and more upgraded parts can be installed but this does require having skill points to put into the Driver Skill Tree and the appropriate crafting materials, respectively. The buggy also needs to be refilled after quite a bit of driving. Luckily, there are abandoned cars all over the map and some of them do still have some leftover fuel inside. Of course, finding an abandoned gas station helps too.
With The Following comes new side quests and activities for players to enjoy, however, some of the quests or activities dotted around the map strongly recommends playing through it with a friend due to its difficulty. Unlike the rest of the game, these quests such as destroying Volatile nests or defeating boss-like infected see a significant spike in difficulty, which unfortunately can make playing through them a bit of a chore if you want to fly solo. I applaud Techland for wanting to really push the co-op, however, there should be an option to fly solo on these quests without it having to feel like a mountainous challenge. It IS possible, just be prepared to use a large amount of your resources to get it done.
Dying Light looks great. Looking over the city of Harran is a pleasure, especially during a sunset as it provides for some picturesque vistas. Animations are smooth too. Audio is very much on par with the visuals for the game. Thuds, thumps and slashing sounds can be heard when attack zombies with your melee weapons. Despite the cast of characters being uninteresting, the voice acting is superb. Most of it will be heard from Crane himself, who is voiced by Roger Craig Smith (Ezio from the Assassin’s Creed series, and Chris Redfield from Resident Evil 5 and 6). Smith does a fine job and makes Kyle Crane a believable character.
Dying Light is a fantastic game. Being re-released as a complete edition was not a bad idea and the inclusion of The Following is great. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience and is sure to please many fans of the zombie game genre. The parkour, combat, crafting and different zombie types is an interesting combo and one that works really well. In addition to this, the buggy that is introduced in The Following is a lot of fun. It’s definitely a great package for both newcomers and fans of the original game.
Lasting appeal: 9/10