(Reuters) – “Dying Light” is the latest addition to the zombie apocalypse genre currently regarded by filmmakers and games developers as the gift that keeps on giving.
The creation of Polish developer Techland — best known for earlier zombie romp “Dead Island” — videogame “Dying Light” sticks to many of the tried and tested staples of the genre: a deadly virus turning most of humanity into rabid homicidal maniacs while a handful of people inexplicably immune to the disease are left to make the best of it.
This one is set in a fictional Middle Eastern city and players get to be Kyle Crane, “undercover operative”, arriving by parachute and soon set upon by zombies.
Rescued by a couple of other survivors, one of whom is promptly eaten, and taken to their HQ in a tower block, Crane spends the rest of the story earning their trust. This involves venturing out into the infested city to carry out a series of missions from rescuing people, finding medical supplies and other items, and setting traps for the zombies.
All this is done with occasional reminders of his real reason for being there — a secret mission to locate a missing high-ranking military officer.
Key features of the game include the fact it is “open world”, videogame jargon for being able to wander around the imaginary world at will rather than follow a set course. It also combines daylight scenes, when lethargic zombies stumble around, and nighttime sequences when they become far more active, running round attacking Crane and anyone else still alive.
The game’s other distinguishing characteristic is its “parkour” feature – with Crane leaping across rooftops, shinning up telegraph poles or edging across gang planks.
In fact, this is his best bet for survival as most of the zombies can’t follow him up there.
“Dying Light” has its moments of absurdity — unconvincing accents and ham acting in the cinematic sequences that advance the plot between bouts of game play.
But the go-anywhere, climb anything feature of the game makes a pleasant variation on an increasingly cliched genre, and is a significant advance on its predecessor “Dead Island”. The setting is visually impressive and more expansive than its fore-runner while the day to night aspect succeeds in adding tension.