“Dying Light” zombie game excels in gameplay, lacks in story structure

Released on Xbox One and PS4, Dying Light is an open-world zombie video game that allows up to four players to cooperatively work together. Amazon

Matthew Wilson

Released on Xbox One and PS4, “Dying Light” at times seems like a mashup of other games like “Mirror’s Edge,” “Dark Souls” and Techland’s previous game, “Dead Island,” but it still proves to be an exhilarating experience. Part parkour and part survival horror, the game tasks players with running across rooftops of the fictional city of Harran while evading zombie hordes.

Avoiding zombies is essential in the early hours of the game when the player is weak, needing five to 10 hits to take down a single zombie. Over the course of the game, the player can level up into a zombie-killing machine. The combat mechanics are somewhat clunky and 
frustrating when swarmed by zombies, but the best part of the game by far is its parkour features. Being able to jump across rooftops and dropkick zombies off ledges leads to a 
satisfying experience.

The controls take some getting used to and can be frustrating at times. The jump button is mapped to the right bumper rather than its usual position of either X or A, but after spending some time adjusting, the player will be able to move fluidly without
any problems.

The main feature of the game is a changing cycle between day and night. The early hours of the game successfully build the dread of nightfall, and the player’s first venture after dark is sure to be nerve-racking. At night, the zombies transform from the slow and shuffling corpses seen in George Romero films to the fast-paced hunters that populate films like 
“28 Days Later.”

When the player is running through the dark while being chased across rooftops, Harran suddenly turns into a twisting maze. A feeling of claustrophobia settles in as the player runs into dead ends in the dark and turns to see a zombie 
charging at him or her.

As great as the gameplay can be at times, the story never matches the same height and soon falls into cliches. The player assumes the role of Kyle Crane, an undercover agent tasked with infiltrating the quarantine zone and recovering a stolen file from a rogue operative, Rais. The story’s stakes never really resonated, with many of the characters falling into cliche archetypes. By the end of the game, there really wasn’t much reason to care about any of the characters, including Crane himself. They were just cannon fodder for the player to explore the zombie-infested streets of Harran.

The game also offers multiplayer, allowing four players to cooperatively work together or invade each other’s games as zombie. While these modes are welcome additions, the online matchmaking was unstable and frustrating when trying to 
connect to a game.

“Dying Light” offers pulse-pounding moments, especially during the night sequences and offers new 
mechanics that reinvigorate the 
zombie genre. But sadly, its story 
was never up to the same standard, leaving little reason for the player to care by the end.