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Dying Light (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC) review: Dying Light: Going the way of the buffalo

There's fun to be had with Dying Light, but it's not going to breathe new life into a genre that's essentially on life support.

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Jeff Bakalar
JeffHSurban2012.jpg
Jeff Bakalar Editor at Large

Jeff is CNET Editor at Large and a host for CNET video. He's regularly featured on CBS and CBSN. He founded the site's longest-running podcast, The 404 Show, which ran for 10 years. He's currently featured on Giant Bomb's Giant Beastcast podcast and has an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey and pinball.

2 min read

At this point I have a real tough time getting excited to play yet another zombie game. Even when I first saw and played Dying Light back at E3 2013, the zombie craze felt like it was winding down to a crawl (that's a little zombie-humor right there).

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Dying Light (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC)

The Good

Dying Light is a great-looking first-person-shooter zombie shooter that features an impressively smooth parkour traversal system.

The Bad

At the end of the day Dying Light is just another zombie game that doesn't do much to separate itself from the pack. Also, it's story is severely lacking.

The Bottom Line

There's fun to be had with Dying Light, but it's not going to breathe new life into a genre that's essentially on life support.

So in 2015, with most of the zombie unpleasantness behind us, Dying Light -- at least thematically -- comes off like it's competing from behind. But that didn't stop me from giving Dying Light a 12-hour shot at winning me over. There's a chance it could possess some never-before-seen zombie action that'll reinvigorate the genre, right?

Well, not so much.

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Techland

That's not to say Dying Light isn't fun to play, it certainly is -- and it's got a handful of ultra-satisfying scenes of zombie dismemberment glory. It's also the most refined and competent effort developer Techland has put forth, a realized evolution of the Dead Island action-RPG-meets-crafting experience.

Give Dying Light points for successfully attaching a parkour mechanic to what's primarily a first-person-shooter. The "Mirror's Edge" addition to the game works well and doesn't outstay its welcome as a design choice.

Stitching jumps from rooftops, box trucks, awnings and beyond is a welcome amendment to a zombie game, where I often find myself playing the "ground is hot lava" game.

However, the problem I found with Dying Light is that falls short of crafting any kind of narrative that isn't cut from the same dreary dystopian cloth that you've seen a thousand times before. It's gimmick -- that its zombies grow more intense and aggressive at night -- is a necessary distinction that prevents the game from being labeled as cookie-cutter, but beyond that, there's not much incentive to check it out.

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Techland

I played Dying Light longer than I thought I would, mostly because I was committed to discovering what the next story mission would be. I didn't find it necessary to waste time with side-quests, which is something I regularly find myself doing in similar games. That said, there are an awful amount of them that are sure to provide hours upon hours of play time.

On PC, Dying Light suffered from a fair amount of glitches, though I'm told they're being addressed. In our Chronos Origin PC fitted with two GTX 980s in SLI, the game had a severely inconsistent frame rate. Surprisingly enough, things fared much better using only one card.

Using our Maingear Torq system with an Nvidia Titan Z GPU, we experienced a few strange oddities like flickering backgrounds, weird blood-splattering issues and other smoothing problems. Expect some PC patches coming down the line.

Read GameSpot's Dying Light review

All in all, Dying Light isn't something I'd call a disappointment -- it's just exactly what I assumed it would be. And as much as I lament about the monotony of slicing up zombies, there's enough variation in that category for even the most jaded zombie slayer.

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