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Hands On with Dying Light at EG Expo

Techland’s first person survival horror title, Dying Light, was playable at Eurogamer last weekend and I was able to jump on and have a play through of the five minute demo that was on show at the convention.

The game has been defined as a cross between Mirror’s Edge and Dead Island, due to the open and free flowing parkour that Techland have tried to instill into the game, set unsurprisingly around a zombie apocalypse.

The first thing that struck me about the game was how visually pleasing it was, the graphics were fantastic. The setting of the game, a ruined city inhabited by both large and expansive bridges and small wooden shacks, is fantastic and flashes of greenery looks as impressive as the rotting flesh that features on zombies.

In the playable demo on show players had to work their way through the city and find their way to a meeting point on a bypass, all the while trying to avoid becoming lunch of course.

As you sprinted through the city and jumped from rooftop to rooftop you would get opportunities to veer off of your course to try and save other uninfected humans, who for some reason always seemed to be stuck in wardrobes with zombies ineffectively attempting to break through the wooden exterior of the furniture.

Engaging zombies was pleasing and you could either throw axes at the infected or take them on toe to toe, which did result in some pleasing decapitations of the undead. If you got too close without attacking zombies they would lurch at you, resulting in the player having to tap a button to snap their neck.

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One engagement with a zombie that was rather humorous was when I came across a zombie dressed in a biohazard suit. I hit the tank that was on his back, causing gas to spray out, this resulted in the zombie zipping around in front of me, who doesn’t like flying zombies?

So engaging zombies was pleasing and worked well, somewhat unfortunately the free running aspect of the game felt a little clunky, as though some work still needs to be done if Techland want to produce the free flowing game they have said they are aiming for.

As a fan of Mirror’s Edge I really wanted to enjoy the free running aspect of this game, the concept as a whole is very appealing and I was hoping that the game would blow me away, but the disjointed manner of the free running made it difficult.

If you jumped onto a wooden surface your character would fall through onto the balcony below, this is a touch of realism that should not be shunned, but these wooden platforms were almost everywhere, making a prolonged run across the rooftops difficult.

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It was also massively difficult to get back into a rhythm if you missed a jump or fell through one of these wooden roofs. Getting from ground level to the rooftops is frustratingly hard and I spent a lot of time running around looking for ways to get back on higher ground.

Whilst on the ground I noticed it was rather easy to avoid confrontation with zombies as they were dormant and flat footed as you ran past them, however I believe this is a deliberate choice by the developers down to the daytime/ nightime split of the game.

In the daytime zombies are lazy and should not pose too much of a threat, however then dusk falls and the streets grow dark they become stronger, faster and more of a threat, it seems that during night time you should do your best to use stealth to avoid zombies all together, just doing your best to survive until daylight comes once more.

Unfortunately this aspect of the game was not featured on the demo, this is just what I garner from watching the gameplay trailer, which you can find here.

Generally the game looks good, it is a good concept and aspects of the gameplay were enjoyable and rewarding, however the main concept of free running needs some work, or at least has a steeper learning curve that the five minute play through allowed.

As I mentioned in my hands-on with Battlefield 4 my comments here should be taken with a pinch of salt, it is difficult to pass judgement on a game in such a short space of time and my difficulty at getting any sort of free flowing movement may be down to lack of practice, however my initial impression was the system was a little clunky.

The game is not released until next year so there may be some tweaking with the free running mechanics, hopefully that will make the game’s big selling point easier to handle.

Once again if you were at Eurogamer and you managed to get on Dying Light what did you think? Did you fair better than me in regards to the free running aspect of the game? Let me know in the comments below.