PAX Prime 2013: Dying Light hands-on
Techland make a specific type of game: high on concept, mixed in execution. Their games find sustenance in the big ideas. Everything is a good pitch; they make a good trailer that sells an idea well. It’s whilst playing that things can fall apart.
Dying Light finds a rare level of execution behind the new concepts. Largely it’s built on the foundation of what Dead Island does with zombies and decapitation but new value is added in parkour. It felt effortless to traverse the suburban favelas. A good amount of allowance is given so that we can grasp ledges even when we’re not quite there. What didn’t factor in is a worthwhile contextual reason for doing this beyond quick traversal and it being the trendy concept for a new first-person game.
Appropriate jank is found in all other areas. The decapitations are still ridiculous and prone to amusing glitches that add more than they detract. It’s not a clean primary example for the genre but remains a working idea that separates Techland and allows their product a certain identity.
What we played was a focused cut of content. We were limited by perimeters, laser fences that funneled us to the points the demo was meant to highlight. It took something out of the exploratory nature of an open world having this barrier, but the contents within were consistent with the best moments of a Dead Island game.
Dying Light is set to move a familiar formula forward. It’s very much a Techland experience but also establishes new value into new areas that make it a progressive cross-gen release. Our limited time showcased some surprisingly polished freerunning on top of what we’ve come to expect and feels like the true successor to the developer’s inconsistent but unique brand of videogame.