Techland’s “Dying Light” isn’t just another zombie-themed first-person shooter. The entire game – everything you see in front of you – can be traversed using the right shoulder button. Simply run at a building, a wall, or an obstacle, and hold the button, and your character will traverse or climb the object appropriately. As you do so, you gain agility points, eventually leveling up and gaining a new ability. And these aren’t just “+5 to speed”-type abilities, either; they’re honest-to-goodness game changers, allowing you to slide, drop-kick, tackle, and pull off a whole slew of other moves.
Of course, if you’d prefer not to go the parkour route, but stick to the ground and fight your way through “Dying Light’s” mobs of zombies (not recommended; they’re tough), you’ll earn strength points (instead of agility) and level up skills in the combat tree. Pawel Kopinski, International PR & Marketing Director for Techland, emphasized that “Dying Light” rewards players for the way they play, not through an arbitrary points system – ensuring that your character evolves along a natural progression, getting better at the things you like to do.
In addition to letting you free-run through a fictional, Istanbul-inspired city, “Dying Light” features a variety of emergent side missions that pop up as you attempt to handle your main quest. Survivors will be fighting off zombies and request assistance, supplies will sometimes get air dropped into the area, and other optional activities will present themselves to you. Often, these are time-sensitive, as are the game’s main missions: Take too long, and the survivors you need to rescue will be zombified, leading to new outcomes and different paths in the storyline.
Two other important aspects of “Dying Light” are its weather and day/night cycles. Kopinski stressed that zombies are attracted by noise – so rain or wind can be boons to the player… while clear, sunny days are an enemy, making it much easier for zombies to single you out. Conversely, when day becomes night in “Dying Light,” the tone shifts dramatically: Rather than hunting zombies, you become the hunted, as a new type of pursuer zombie spawns and relentlessly tracks you if you leave the safety of the home base. This turns “Dying Light” into a stealth game during the nighttime; these pursuer zombies are too tough to fight, so you must rely on sneaking. You also have the ability to briefly blind the pursuers with a flashlight, in order to evade them and accomplish objectives at night.
The most dangerous opponents, of course, are the A.I. humans, who are armed, hostile, and coordinated. But even here, players can cleverly make use of environmental traps – or even the zombies themselves by luring them with noisemakers or explosives.
“Dying Light” also features both cooperative and competitive multiplayer, where humans can team up to play through the campaign, or take on the role of the zombies. The game is built on Techland’s proprietary Chrome Engine 6, and looks beautiful, with highly realistic animations for the zombies and other characters, as well as fantastic lighting and weather effects. It will be available on the Xbox One and Xbox 360 in early 2015.