As we close out the year, it’s important to reflect on some of the new games that made 2015 so special. Whether you’re a fan of sci-fi shooters, post-apocalyptic survivals, or open-world adventures, there was plenty to keep you busy this year. And while we’ll have the usual “Game of the Year” awards, we decided to take a look back and highlight the 31 best games of 2015 — one for each day in December. And what better game to start off with than…
Developed by Techland and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Dying Light was one of the first true next-gen games, as it was deemed to massive for the hardware limitations of the Xbox 360 and PS3. Dying Light was a pleasant surprise as it released in late January 2015, usually a dead time for new game releases. But Warner Bros. and Techland used the quiet time to their advantage, and Dying Light became an early hit with both critics and fans.
At its most basic core, Dying Light is a post-apocalyptic, first-person zombie action-survival game. But what makes this game special is the parkour-infused movement system, which makes traversing the open-world a blast. Being set in an expansive urban environment, the worn down structures and debris made for a parkour playground, as you could climb ledges, leap from buildings, jump from rooftop to rooftop, and even zipline.
The heavy emphasis on parkour even played thematically into the game, as Dying Light was split into a day/night cycle. During the day, the zombies would act like you see them in most games and movies — slow, dumb, and pretty easy to take down. You could use these parkour mechanics to pull off some pretty fun stunts. But at night, the zombies mutate into much stronger, much faster monsters. The parkour system became more about using these quick movement features to escape danger, and the result was some heart-pounding fun as you race through the darkness to the safety of your base.
The movement system may have been the highlight of Dying Light, but Techland — who gained a bit of a bad rep for the clunky combat in Dead Island — made some major improvements to the first-person gameplay. Similar to Dead Island, Dying Light is mostly a melee-based game. And though gameplay still wasn’t perfect, it was much cleaner. Adding to the game was a pretty in-depth weapon crafting system featuring more than 100 weapons that could be used with more than 1,000 weapon possibilities at your disposal while crafting.
Dying Light has been criticized for its story, but let’s be honest — who is playing a zombie game for the story? At this point, we’ve seen it all before, so just have fun with it. That’s what Dying Light is all about. And it’s about to get more fun as Techland is set to release Dying Light’s massive expansion — Dying Light: The Following — in the first quarter of 2016.
Note: Dying Light is the first game on our “Best Games of 2015” list, which is ordered simply by the date the games were released and not by how we feel they rank against each other. Later in the month we will have our usual "Top" lists for the various game award categories.