Dying Light is what would happen if Mirror’s Edge had zombies in it. With a mixture of parkour and survival elements, Dying Light looks to be the next big thing (in quotation marks). All joking aside, Dying Light‘s developers are very confident that their game is different enough to distinguish itself in the zombie genre, and after having some hands-on time, I’m inclined to agree.
Dying Light takes place after what looks like the end. Humans survive in shelters in a world barely standing on its feet, and it’s up to your character to run errands to keep humanity alive. This meant that the missions I was given included such things as making various traps around the compound operational again, and checking if electricity is running in the survivors’ compound.
The developers described their game as an action-survival game with zombies simply being a means to an end. That doesn’t mean, however, that these walking plagues are just hordes of mindless corpses. Once daylight dies (dohohoho) the zombies become far more aggressive and deadly and, while during the day they serve as mere (still deadly) distractions, at night they become the hunter and you the prey.
The thing I was most surprised about was how the game simply works, and works well. The many experimental elements could be so much more counter-productive than they actually play out to be, but a free-running action survival game is just what the doctor ordered to breathe some new life into the genre.
Will Dying Light shake up zombie games? Maybe a better question is if Dying Light can shake up the action genre, and firmly establish zombies’ place in an action setting rather than leaving them to decay as relics of horror.