• Dying Light: The Following review by Rick Moscatello



    Dead Island Meets Far Cry

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    Iím going to look at two things here. First, Dying Light, and the expansion, The Following.

    Dying Light is a first person role playing zombie game. Itís very, very, much like Dead Island, which is little surpriseómost of the developers for Dead Island also worked on this game. If you havenít played Dead Island, thatís probably the way to goóyou can get it pretty cheap. If you have already played Dead Island, you might get a little frustrated, as this zombie game plays so similarly that you might feel a little cheated at even calling Dying Light a new game, rather than a sequel to Dead Island.

    Anyway, Dying Light has you play the role of Kyle, a secret agent guy whoís been dropped into a city overwhelmed with the zombie virus. Supposedly this is a Turkish city (Harran) but truth be told, I thought I was in San FranciscoÖthereís a big suspension bridge, and everyone speaks English (heck, this could be the mainland off wherever Dead Island was). Your mission, more or less, is to follow orders; those orders change so much that itís tough to figure if there was much of a plan here. Unlike Dead Island, thereís only the one character; this cuts down on the replay factor quite a bit.

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    Ah, a rare easy kill. Don't use the knife, though, just kick him over the edge.

    The voice acting is quite good, although the story, well, not so much. There are many little outposts of survivors, but thereís also a murderous psychopath who leads an infinite legion of well-supplied murderous psychopaths willing to do his bidding (he has so many that he even kills a few for you, just so you know for sure heís a bad guy). Youíll have to stop him, of course, as heíll kill your friends and romantic interest. This must be a great story because it seems like this happens in every zombie apocalypse.

    There are quests to solve but this game is a sandboxÖa sandbox full of tough zombies. Iím not joking about the toughness here, as the game suffers a bit from sequel-itis (where the sequel is dramatically harder than the original, and there are numerous design decisions to deliberately make the game harder than reasonable). Youíll find a zombie, and break your iron wrench over its head, whacking it repeatedly. Then it gets up, you get another wrench, and repeat the whacking until the zombie resembles Prince Oberyn after his date with The Mountain. There are normal humans in the city, and these guys are tough tooÖthe sight of an enemy with a dozen arrows sticking through his chest will be fairly common, assuming you donít use the wrench on him, too.

    As you gain levels, of course, youíll become much more capable of killing zombies, including the all-important head-stomp move (there are also quite a few other Dead Island-maneuvers). You never quite get godlike in power, but things do get easier over time, especially once you learn to modify your weapons (much like Dead IslandÖ).

    I keep going back to Dead Island because of the strong similarities, but there is one big difference. Dying Light is an awesome parkour simulator. Kyle has positively heroic skills in parkour, able to jump, dive, run, and climb with amazing agility, an agility that the zombies (during daylight) cannot hope to match. There are many, many, climbing puzzles, and if you like that sort of thing, this game rocks hard.

    Thereís no real ďsave gameĒ function, so youíll find yourself falling to your death many, many, times, even after hours of play (itís so easy to wrongly guess which handrail can be held, and which is strictly decorationÖ). Mercifully, death is only an inconvenience in the game, you just lose a few experience points and reappear in a local safehouse (there are many in the city).

    While you can avoid the infinite zombies during daylight, night is another matter entirely. Much more powerful and agile zombies appear, and they hunt you down relentlessly. Itís basically certain death to be outside at night, at least until you learn the important tricks for survival, and itís easy enough to figure out exploits (you can stand right outside a safe house and just blast away at enemies, retreating to perfect safety, when things get bad).

    Overall, Dying Light is a fun game. Itís far more open (in the sense of questing) than Dead Island (hence the fusion with Far Cry), and has better multiplayer. Alas, itís still so derivative a game that I just canít see playing it through four different times like I did with Dead Island (using each character) because Iíve already played the game to death. I might try a second play through, however, as many quests are much easier and more fun once you know whatís going on.

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    Driving the buggy is the point of The Following

    The Following is an expansion for Dying Light. Iím calling it an expansion because the developers want to call it an expansion; Steam calls it DLC (downloadable content). Whatís the difference? Well, words seem to mean whatever people want them to mean nowadays, but, for me, an expansion is something that really affects the whole game. XCOM: Enemy Within, for example, is an expansion in my book: it changes the whole game so much that I canít hardly consider playing the base game without it.
    A DLC is just a little add-on. You can take it or leave it, but either way it doesnít really change the game. The best examples of these are from Bethesda, where their DLCs add a dungeon or a quest line or something, but the whole rest of the game is basically unchanged.

    Iíll let the reader decide what The Following is.

    The Following is accessed through the main menu of the gameóyou canít get there from the main game. The new region is unlike Dying Lightís ruined city, instead being more of a rough scrub and farming region. There, bandits and cultists run around to make life hard for Kyle, along with many zombies.

    The Following adds the one thing Dying Light lacked from Dead Island: vehicles. Well, one vehicle, a customizable dune buggy. Bottom line, zombie-bowling rocks, and driving over droves of the things is fun. Granted, this level of slaughter does get on the edge of goofy, and I donít see why there are so many swarms of zombies in such a sparsely populated area, but The Following does take a bit off the frustration factor of Dying Light, and tosses in more fun, at the expense of removing much parkour (you canít hardly do that and drive, after all).

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    The crossbow is new...but not spectacular seeing you can use a bow already.

    There are some other tweaks, new weapon mods and such but these are just little things.

    Dying Light is only incrementally better/different than Dead Island, but if you lurves your zombie games, itís still an improvement. The Following, likewise, isnít a waste of your gaming dollar, but if youíre looking for a completely new experience, neither will really satisfy, and if youíre looking to save a few bucks, Dead Island will probably scratch that ďmust kill zombiesĒ itch more than sufficiently.

    Rating:

    Dying Light: 85
    Dying Light: The Following: 87
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Dying Light: The Following review by Rick Moscatello started by Doom View original post