Game: Dying Light
Recommended price: $10
Metacritic Score: 75
Completion Time: ~30 hours
Buy If You Like: Dead Island meets Mirror’s Edge, Parkour, Zombies
Dying Light is a less gamey Dead Island meets Mirror’s Edge. In other words, it is a zombie game in which you spend less time killing zombies for XP and more time parkouring along the rooftops to avoid them… for XP. It’s a game of movement, momentum, and generally avoiding battles wherever you can. Or mowing through zombies if you feel like it. Either/or.
The premise of the game is that you are a lone GRE agent sent into a zombie quarantined zone in an effort to resolve a rogue agent situation before it gets (more) out of control. In the process, you help people, sometimes not help people, and otherwise play Dead Island again. By which I mean collect crafting material and blueprints so you can craft increasingly unlikely weapon mods to help you separate zombie heads from zombie shoulders. There aren’t zombie health bars or numbers popping up after each attack, but we all know that they’re there, right beneath the surface. Especially once your badass electric katana inexplicably no longer one-shots random Biters.
Indeed, if there was one element from Dying Light that I felt fell flat (beyond the ending), it was the actual crunchy gamey bits. I enjoyed how the Skill Tree system was segmented into independent categories – you level up Power by fighting, Agility by parkour, and they have their own trees – but the crafting part was straight lifted from Dead Island, and otherwise felt out of place. Why is this Chef Knife dealing more damage than a Fire Axe? Oh, right, because the Chef Knife is purple. That didn’t bother me in Dead Island because I saw a cascade of “150 damage” pop-ups after throwing a Molotov, but it’s damn weird here.
Also, I hope you like the Fallout 3/4/New Vegas lockpicking minigame, because you’ll be doing that approximately a million times. Luckily, it becomes increasingly not worth it.
Mirror’s Edge is the comparison everyone makes to any game that features parkour, but I must say that Dying Light gets the feeling closer than most. A lot of the more interesting maneuvers are gated behind level unlocks – including basic stuff like sliding – but even from the start things feel real good as you scramble on rooftops and vehicles. Indeed, once you start unlocking the rest of the tree (along with the grappling hook), you’ll start to feel like part Neo, part goddamn Spiderman. Even after 30 hours, running at a dead (har, har) sprint and vaulting onto a rooftop from the shoulder of a zombie trying to grab you never gets old.
One of the biggest gimmicks of the game is the Day/Night cycle, where especially overpowered “Volatile” zombies comes out to play. What is so curious about this is how utterly optional it ends up being; every Safe House features a bed, which you can freely use to skip Night segments, even when it doesn’t make much sense (e.g. something bad is happening in the next 24 hours… or next month, if you just want to sleep a bunch). The game makes a token effort to get you to venture out at Night via sidequests, but for the most part I ignored it. At least, I did until I unlocked the Grappling Hook and the “Camouflage” skill, the latter of which in particular removes basically all danger from Night escapades.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Dying Light. If you were someone who didn’t enjoy Dead Island, Dying Light is probably different enough to make it worth your time to try it out. Then again, since I’m one of those apparently crazy people who enjoyed Dead Island in the first place, it’s tough to be objective. All that I know is that it’s going to be difficult going back to any zombie game that doesn’t allow you to scale walls and Spiderman your way around town.
Or if I’m honest, any open-world game.
Is it a haul if it’s only three things?
- GTA5 w/ 500k online cash = $26.99
- FFXIII + FFXIII-2 = $9.17 (@NewEgg)
- Motorola Moto G 2nd Gen smartphone = $99 (
I’m punting on the $19.99 Dying Light because I know that there is a substantial DLC coming early next year (so substantial they’re raising the Season Pass price), which means I should either be buying the game + Season Pass now, or waiting for the GOTY edition to include all the DLC at some indeterminate future time. And even if I did the former, it means not playing the game right away, as I’d want a smoother segue into the DLC rather than an awkward, months-long gap.
Also punted on Far Cry 4, mostly because I’m miffed that the $15 deal was apparently a pricing error. The “gold” edition is still around for $22.50, but nothing I have read really indicates that the DLC is worth $7.50.
Actually, everything seems pretty silly having just purchased GTA 5. Not only from a game-time perspective, but the 60gb installation is forcing me to look at all the other games I currently have installed on my SSD but never booted up once. Shit, I technically have both FF14 and Elder Scrolls Online installed. Or I could delete Wasteland 2 and Total War: Shogun 2, and maybe actually get around to finishing Pillars of Eternity; that adds up to around 60gb. Hmm.
As far as the smartphone goes, that was strategic impulse buy. I was debating making any decision for a while, and had basically came to the conclusion that I could wait it out. Then my parents were late to Thanksgiving dinner because they got lost due to their TomTom GPS not having been updated in 10 years. It seems rather absurd that in 2015 you have to pay $50 for map updates when I could pull up detailed satellite images (and Street View!) like a goddamn NSA agent from any smartphone. Indeed, they only purchased flip-phones about two years ago, and never set up texting either.
So… yeah. The idea with the Moto G is that I’ll test it out, see if I like it compared to the Nexus 4, then gift whatever one I don’t like to them. Worst-case scenario: I bought them a $99 smartphone for Christmas. Or, I suppose, they get a Nexus 4 that randomly shuts off every few weeks. I’m not even convinced their phone plan would get that much more expensive.
I was browsing some reddit threads talking about Dying Light the other day, and came across a comment chain that started with the following:
I dont know about you, but I”m getting kinda tired of open world games now. Literally almost every aaa title is an open world game that exploring them just isn’t as fun anymore. It seems to be the same thing that happened with military shooters last generation. Rinse and repeat experience. Not to say they’re bad games, but i’m just getting tired of the formula.
At first, the sentiment sort of struck me as being funny. How can you get tired of wide-open games that let you do anything? And then I started reading the example games people were giving. Then I looked at my own unplayed Steam list:
- Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
- Assassin’s Creed: Revelation
- Batman: Arkham City
- Darksiders 2
- Dead Island: Riptide
- Dead Rising 2
- Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
- Fable 3
- GTA 4
- Just Cause 2
- Saints Row: The Third
- Sleeping Dogs
To be fair, not all of those are technically “open-world” games. To be fair the other direction though, I didn’t include the more borderline titles like Tomb Raider, Thief, Prince of Persia (I apparently own 5 of them somehow), the Hitman series, and so on and so forth. Nor does that list include games I want to play, such as Far Cry 4, Shadows of Mordor, and GTA 5. Nor does it include, you know, Dragon Age: Inquisition, which I am still currently playing.
While I am enjoying my time in the aforementioned Inquisition, I can see the commenter’s point. In fact, they have given voice to the sort of unspoken sentiment I have been fighting against for a while now: open Steam library, look at games, and become physically exhausted.
My issue seems to be more 3rd-person Action game fatigue, but it is basically the same thing. Run around, spam the attack button to auto-chain combos, climb shit, find secrets, defeat boss with large HP bar by waiting for vulnerable spots to light up and completing the Quick-Time Event. Huh… that actually sounds suspiciously close to a cynical MMO description.
Anyway, don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy this specific genre. Just, perhaps, in smaller doses than the horse tranquilizer ones I’m staring down the barrel of. I want to play these games, but somehow I can already feel the sheer volume of virtual space I would have to traverse to get there. When you get sucked in and immersed, you want the game to last forever. Looking through the glass window from the outside though, before it can sink its hooks in you, and it more closely resembles a Little Shop of Horrors.
I am not usually someone who risks getting my hopes up for games that aren’t even in beta, but I have the occasional moments of weakness. Here are a few of the games I am keeping an eye on:
Basically an indie procedurally-generated, open-world survival game where you are being hunted by British robots. Yes, really. As much as I like the premise though, this is the sort of game that is going to live and die on the player perception of how/if the robots “cheat.” Were you really engaging in risky behavior, or does the AI just sort of auto-spot you within 30 meters? Maybe it is fun either way, who knows. The game is supposedly going to be released in July 2013, aka two months from now, so we’ll see how it shakes out soon enough.
First-person free-running zombie survival game from Techland, aka makers of Dead Island. Whatever your opinion is on zombies
it’s wrong, a lot of Mirror’s Edge comparisons are being thrown around, which automatically makes it potentially more awesome. Some of the news sites are looking at this as a potential disaster given that its from the makers of Dead Island, but as you know, I enjoyed the original quite a bit. More of that in more open environments, please.
Incidentally, I have not picked up Dead Island: Riptide yet (with it’s 63 Metacritic score), but supposedly that game was made by a different team than the original. One bitten, twice zombie… or something. In any case, I wasn’t bitten. Dying Light appears to be a “hopeful” 2014 release.
The last time I talked about Hex, they were fast approaching their $300,000 Kickstarter goal. As of the time of this writing, they are sitting a $1.3 million, or more than 400% funded. The average backer spent just shy of $160. Me? I only paid $85.
My concerns about how TCGs naturally (and insidiously) combine both P2W and gamble boxes hasn’t really changed. What has changed is where exactly I place Cryptozoic on my internal Nefarious Scale, which ranges from indie all the way up to EA.
Cryptozoic is here to make money, no doubt, but their communication and outright concessions throughout the 18 Kickstarter updates has been downright refreshing. For example, their $250 Pro Player tier granted 1 free booster draft for life, which sold out in a week or less. Meanwhile, the other $250 tiers had bonuses tied to the PvE portion of the game, which is less of a value even if you planned to only play PvE (you can use PvP cards in PvE but not vice versa).
Solution? Every $250 tier now grants a free booster draft per week for 1 year.
Now, that could be construed as cynical marketing given that the Pro Player tier was sold out but the other $250 tiers were not – what better way to convince late-comers to boost their pledges than virtually increase the most popular tier? And, of course, it costs nothing to make all manners of promises in a Kickstarter campaign. At this point though, I want to believe. Just look at this:
960K – Keep DefenseBecome the master of your own domain! Every Lord of Entrath must defend their Keep, so we’re turning it into a game. Players will be able to set up a series of decks to defend their Keep, which will be played by our powerful AI (so you don’t need to even be online!). There will be rewards and prizes for those who are victorious in both defense and offense.
“Prizes” probably won’t be booster packs, so I’m not getting my hopes up about that part. But put that aside for a moment: this is asynchronous player-generated content to the max. Can you see it in your mind? Browsing your collection, building decks that you think will be useful in assaulting these keeps. And then turning around and brainstorming decks to stymie and frustrate the worms that dare defy the sanctity of your realm? Shit, I would do this all day long for free! Er… well, I guess I’m quite literally paying Cryptozoic to create content for other people, but that’s okay too.
In any case, this is quite literally the first Kickstarter I have ever pledged towards, and jumping right in at $85 given my mercilessly frugal gaming habits is pretty crazy. Dropping $10 for a beta invite probably should have sufficed. But, well, sometimes you have to put on your Press™ Pants and go full gonzo. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. The Hex beta starts in September 2013.
Please don’t be bad. Please don’t be bad. Please don’t be bad.