Our series of Most Anticipated articles returns in 2015, starting off with Dying Light as one of our most anticipated single player titles of 2015. This series of articles will chronicle all of our most anticipated upcoming games through March of this year.
Techland’s third attempt at a revolutionary zombie-survival game, Dying Light looks like the incredibly successful product of trial and error. After publisher Deep Silver purchased the rights to Dead Island – a wildly over-hyped and mildly disappointing release – Techland decided to step up their game, literally and figuratively. The break-neck pace, the mind-blowingly gorgeous visuals, and the fascinating narrative are adding up to a fresh take on the zombie genre.
Development for Dying Light began in early 2012 after Techland decided to cut their ties with Deep Silver, claiming that Dead Island didn’t have strong business potential. They wanted to make a game with a serious and mature tone, as well as intricate gameplay. This was their chance to prove Techland’s ability to produce a masterful AAA title, and the care and passion shows in every step of the developmental process.
The two prime aspects Techland wanted to focus on were narrative and environment. They feel that Middle Eastern architecture and landscape in most video games misrepresent the area and took it upon themselves to do it justice. Instead of beige huts and cubes with rooftops, the city in Dying Light includes favelas, blocks of apartment buildings, and classical French architecture that resembles the likes of Turkey. That being said, there’s no allegory involved in the choice of setting. The producer, Tymon Smektala, says the Middle East was chosen because it’s a new take on the genre.
Dying Light’s narrative promises meaningful subtext and thought-provoking dialogue, as the writing team was led by DC Comics author Dan Jolley. He’s worked on famous titles like Doctor Strange and Justice Society of America, and currently writes for Ubisoft and Activision. Jolley has spoke about the strong female representation in the game, and it seems there is strong commentary on one man’s place in society. To say the absolute least, the story looks compelling.
Two innovative mechanics in Dying Light are the day/night cycle and the effects of weather on gameplay. During each day, roughly forty-five minutes long, there are only basic “biters” in minimal numbers. They’re easy to kill and even easier to avoid. You can vault over their heads like an Italian plumber, or give em’ a few easy whacks to the dome. The night is where you’ll be begging for mercy. It’s only about twenty minutes long but death is rampant. Biters become empowered, increasing their speed and damage. New foes come out, such as the Volatile and the Demolisher. The rooftops are no longer a haven but are instead infested with elite zombies that can scale buildings even faster than you. There’s even a playable zombie called the night hunter who can single handedly take down a four player team by himself.
The weather has a powerful effect on the player’s struggle to survive. Rain can conduct electrical attacks over wet surfaces or wash off the zombie guts the player smears on their face for camouflage. Thunder can hide the sound of your footsteps as you sprint down streets littered with zombies while fog can keep a horde of zombies out of sight. The most creative players will use these effects to their advantage.
There’s a leveling system similar to Batman: Arkham City in that each skill has mandatory prerequisites. The three categories of skills are power, agility, and survival. Power houses all of your combat abilities, mostly abilities with melee weapons. Agility revolves around your ability to move, whether it’s dodging an attack or climbing faster. The survival skill tree increases passives like inventory size and resource collection. Power and agility are both leveled by performing related actions. The more heads to smash, the more power skill points you get. The more you climb the more awesome your parkour tricks become. Survival skills, however, are unlocked through completing missions.
The most important mechanics seem to be stealth and speed, but you can choose to play the game any way you wish. Though, at night, Techland states that you’re going to feel like zombie bait and that it’s impossible to engage the elite enemies.
As Kyle Crane, an undercover operative, the player is air dropped into the city of Harran to cease the conflict between two warring factions. The Runners are the infected populace with aggressive symptoms but who still show intelligence. They are led by Brecken. The second faction is the Bandits. There isn’t much information about the Bandits, but their leader is possibly Kadir “Rais” Suleiman, the main antagonist of Dying Light. Amongst all the violence, there are infected citizens all throughout the urban environment. Crane will need all his skills and any available means to survive till dawn.
Dying Light shows nothing but promise and could absolutely be the AAA game that earns Techland the respect they deserve. You’ll be sweating bullets as you run for your life across the rooftops of Harran, staring in awe at the beautiful city below. Keep an eye out for Dying Light on January 27, 2015. You can pick up a copy for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.