E3 2014 | Dying Light Delivers a Solid Zombie Survival RPG

Dying Light is not a Dead Island clone. It is what Dead Island should have been.

You start out with nothing and are thrust out into a zombie apocalypse. While avoiding the zombies you can gather materials and other items to help you on your way. You will need help because these zombies are no joke. They will come at you and swallow you up if you aren’t careful. This is why jumping around on the rooftops is much safer, as well as causing some kind of auditory distraction in order to slip by. Environmental traps exist such as car alarms that can be set up to draw zombies in and then explode when they get close enough.

There are also people scattered around the city that may or may not be friendly. The human AI is even more devious as they will actively try to flank you. Additionally, you can lure zombies over to humans and have them to the dirty work. That was the big takeaway from my hands-on demo: zombies are not to be trifled with. I got to play as a more powerful character later in the demo who had a lot of skills unlocked and it was still very possible to die and much smarter just to move on by instead of fighting.

Speaking of skills there are two skill trees: strength and agility. Strength is leveled up as you fight enemies and agility goes up with all the parkour moves you can do. Leveling up in a specific area grants you a point to spend on various abilities. The key here was survivability rather than becoming a zombie killing machine. It really got the feel of zombies down. They should be hard to overcome. They should be scary. It was really nice to see a game return them to true horror monster status rather than just being fodder.

“We don’t think of Dying Light as a zombie game. We think the natural movement is more important. We hope it sets us apart.”

If you do want to fight them, and you probably will, there are many different weapon types to craft and use. The brutality of these weapons is realistically ridiculous. By the end of the demo I had seen limbs sliced, head lobbed, and bodies cut clean in two. It’s not for the faint of heart

Fighting zombies and running around the world felt great and I can’t wait to get my hands on the final version. Dying Light looks to fulfill the promise made by that original Dead Island trailer. And it looks like it was worth the wait.

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