E3 2013: Dying Light Breathes New Life Into The Survival Horror Genre

By June 17, 2013

Due to the over-saturation and decline of quality in the survival horror/zombie game genre, admittedly I was a little gun-shy walking into the private demo for Techland’s latest title Dying Light at E3; fully expecting to either yawn or roll my eyes in disdain.

Boy, was I wrong.

The brains (no pun intended) who brought you Dead Island have pulled out all the stops, and that includes the ability to free run, so for those of you looking to live out your parkour fantasies, here you go!

Think Left 4 Dead meets Mirror’s Edge and you have Dying Light.

Wanna see a trailer?



During the day, you’re scavenging for supplies and creating makeshift weapons to defend yourself not only from zombies but something much more treacherous in what’s known as a “viral.” Virals are just as dangerous because until they fully turn, they still have the power of speech and therefore can lure you to your doom with two simple words “help me.”

Guided by an unseen voice known as Jade, the player (trapped in the quarantine zone for the last two months) now has to make his way to the safe house before sundown…as that’s when the REALLY dangerous characters come out. And when I say “dangerous,” I mean DANGEROUS – as in there’s no WAY you’ll be able to survive against some of the freaks that only come out at night…but I’ll get into that in a minute.

Side quests are encouraged and interactions with NPCs can affect whether you live or die. Nothing is guaranteed once you hit the supply drop as demonstrated in the demo when we came upon a group of looters with machine guns going through the supplies. They drew their weapons and the protagonist put up his hands and walked away…however, they could’ve just shot for fun; the outcome is never the same.

As the sun quickly drops while nearing the second supply drop, Jade tells him to move his a– because even with awesome custom-craft weapons (like an electrified machete) if he’s out there after dark, he’s food.

And just like that, it’s night and the “slow-biters” are joined by a really bad number known as a “volatile”, a severely giant, FAST, mutated zomb that would make even the hardest guy around piss their pants at the mere sight.

The volatile are no joke as you see a car fly at you out of nowhere and unlike the Tanks from Left 4 Dead, you can’t defeat them (nor are you meant to); your job is to AVOID them at all costs. But as you’re totally able to free run in this game, you have a SLIGHT advantage in being able to leap between buildings and run up walls in order to not only ambush enemies but can save your butt in a pinch.

See the beast on the left who looks like he has ‘roid rage? That’s a Volatile a.k.a. “your worst nightmare,” and that wrench ain’t gonna help.

It’s been a VERY long time since I’ve been creeped out by a zombie game; I remember my breathing and heart rate rising every time I’d hear that collective “RAAAAAAAARRRRRR” that would occur right before a zombie horde attack in Left 4 Dead and being scared sh–less waiting for them to get in close enough range for pipe bombs and the like. I never thought I’d feel that again but Dying Light has brought back the fear…once night fell and the faster zombs came out to play, I cried out “HOLY FUDGE” (only I didn’t say “fudge”) when I saw a car fly past my line of sight.

When the volatile (who resembles 2 Jason Voorhees stacked on top of each other wearing a Tron-like suit) came into view, I couldn’t help breathing quickly out of panic as our character hid in between two crates as the MASSIVE beast passed close by and nearly yelled when it was upon us about to rip our face off.

If trapped out in the open after dark, using a radar known as “the pulse” will help you figure out if said volatiles are in the area. If you send out a ping and a red flash appears, move your ass to higher ground or hide someplace safe because if a volatile sees you, chances are you’ll be nice and dead within minutes…which is precisely what happened to our guy in the demo.

Once the Volatile’s upon you, it’s “Game over, man.”

And with that, the demo sadly ended…but with massive amounts of brutal melee and range-combat weapons (light and heavy weapons like knives, bats, axes, sledgehammers, guns) and more complex and tasty items like the aforementioned electrified machete (I HIGHLY recommend beheading as many as you can) make taking out these jerks super fun.

I also recommend playing this with the lights off and the sound cranked (or headsets so your neighbors won’t hate you or think you’re being murdered).

And like the game says, “Good Night. Good Luck.”

Dying Light hits 360, PS4, Xbox One, PS4 and PC next year and I can’t WAIT.

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Cricket Lee
Star Wars fangirl. Named Best Kisser by Time Magazine. CEO/Host: Girl Gamer; host of Gecken: GeekNation; writer: Dread Central. You'll have a crush on me soon. Vote Quimby. Twitter: @crixlee http://www.imdb.me/crixlee