E3 2013 Preview: Hardcore parkouring in Dying Light
Dying Light is a better looking Dead Island. Developed by Techland and coming to both current- and next-gen consoles, you can understand how I arrived at that conclusion. Well, those two bits and the fact that I was shown a brief gameplay demo at E3.
For those unfamiliar, your role in Dying Light is someone who is infected. With your time running out, you spend what's left of your life assisting those in need, currently living in quarantined safe zones of an open world. In the case of our demo, we were tasked with recovering a supply drop.
The demo began by dropping me in a city ravaged by an apocalyptic infection. Like Techland's previous work, Dying Light is a first-person runner, except now you have the freedom to move anywhere with no restrictions. Slide under walls, shimmy up walls and poles, jump from building to building -- hardcore parkour.
Of course, what would a zombie-like game be without its fair share of gruesomeness? Dying Light has that signature Techland first-person melee action -- for better or for worse. Brutal attacks with an axe or a baseball bat reward you with generous amounts of blood. While I didn't actually go hands-on with the game, swinging the weapon of choice did seem a bit lackluster in both response and realism. For those who have played past Techland games, you'll know what I'm talking about; it just seemed a bit clunky. In traditional Techland fashion, there's also a crafting system which allows you to combine weapons into, let's say, an electrifying machete.
The game does have side quests which you'll randomly encounter as you traverse the city. You can choose to complete these quests, which will earn you rapport within the quarantined city. The more people you help, the more you'll be rewarded as objects in the shop will become cheaper. In the demo, we heard a scream from inside a building, an obvious side quest to investigate. After performing a series of acrobatic stunts we found ourselves inside the room, where we discovered a little girl hidin gin the closet. We radioed back to our home base to explain that we were going to watch over her, but our partner Jade instructed us to continue on our quest to find supplies, and that she would be coming later to rescue the girl.
So on we went to find the supplies. The first drop we found was already discovered by soldiers who drew their weapons and demanded we leave the area. We did. As we continued to the second drop point, we encounted a Viral, a person infected with the disease who has not yet fully turned. These half-dead creatures will call for help and scream if you attack them, but are easy to kill.
Again, more parkour as the sun quickly began to set. And this is where things got really interesting. As the sun goes down, the infected become even stronger and out come the toughest enemies in the game, the Volatile. These creatures are like the infected on steroids: very strong, very fast, and able to keep up with even your best parkour modes. The best thing to do is avoid them, which is why you use a Pulse move that reveals when they are nearby. At night, the game becomes more of a stealth game, with your looking to avoid confrontations with the infected, particularly the Volatile.
Looking to show us the power of the Volatile, the developers were spotted by one and the chase began. Although our moves were quick, the Volatile were quicker. At times, the camera would look back to see these terrifying creature gaining ground. Needless to say, the demo ended with the powerful creature pinning us to the ground and eating our face.
Dying Light certainly has some good things going for it. The demo was shown to us on a PC, but we were told its superb graphics would be replicated on the Xbox One and PS4. How it looks on current-gen consoles remains to be seen, but the game definitely has more going for it then looks. While I'm a bit wary of the combat, the parkour element definitely seems like an exciting feature. For a game that encourages you to run to survive, what better way then by leaping from building to building?
Dying Light is due out for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One in 2014.