In Progress documents playtime spent with a game on the way to a full review. In Progress also serves as a testament to opinions of a game that might not get finished for a full review, due to extreme shittiness. I wish I had thought of this feature when Destiny came out.
Dying Light doesn’t make the best first impression. You are a semi-military dude with an organization called the GRE, who are clearly the good guys and not up to something sinister at all. Immediately after parachuting into a zombie-infested hot zone, some random thugs jack your shit and you get bitten. Crane, the main character, is thus shown to be completely incompetent, which might work if Dying Light was meant to be a Get Smart-type comedy of errors. It’s not. Dying Light thinks everything is completely serious, even when it attempts a joke.
Luckily, you’re helped out of this sticky situation by some people who have never seen you before, but quickly take you to their headquarters, where your mission is to spy on them for… Some reason. The details of this were lost on me, but it ultimately doesn’t matter anyway. The most important thing is that every single person you meet and perform fetch quests for along the way is absolutely reprehensible and either needs to have their mouth sewn shut or get a bullet in the temple. Somewhere along the line, developers Techland must have figured that irritating smart-asses are hilarious crowd-pleasers, presumably after seeing how much the internet loves Deadpool. After around an hour of tutorial, you’re let loose into the somewhat-open world, and get to work on your objectives.
Most of these objectives are boring — go here, get that, go back over here, and now get THAT. The boredom is alleviated, however, by the navigation, which is an interesting parkour system largely taken from Mirror’s Edge, though without that game’s skill of execution, and indeed, skill required for execution. There’s no wallrunning, at least as far as I’ve seen, nor is there any swinging or walljumping. You can jump, slide (after putting a point into the Agility skill tree), and shimmy on certain ledges. That’s pretty much it.
The combat at least feels more satisfying than Dead Island, this game’s spiritual predecessor and one of the worst games of the last generation. Although missing the analog combat, which some people thought was great even though it was the only semi-interesting thing about that pile of garbage, you still have the Duke Nukem-style kick that you can spam on enemies. It pretty much never stops being funny.
The game’s namesake comes from its day-night cycle, which is actually pretty cool, although not too dissimilar from Dead Rising. The time of day isn’t dynamic until you progress a bit into the story, but when the sun goes away, much stronger infected types emerge, and it’s definitely not a good idea to try to fight them, at least early in the game. They get vision cones on the minimap, and your XP points are doubled at night. Escaping from their pursuit will also net you a large Agility XP bonus. Nighttime also has the added effect of making the game look passable, as during the day, it’s an aliased, blurry mess on PS4. The PC version most likely looks better, obviously, but the PS4 is definitely capable of better results than this: at times it’s indistinguishable from a late-generation PS3/360 game.
You can see my first couple of hours with the game on my Twitch page [Part 1 and Part Deux] (apologies if there are problems with the video quality at times), and the first night segment can be seen at the tail end of Part Deux.