T.A.O. of Dying Light – Run, Boy, Run

In the past few years, there have been more than a few Zombie games. Resident Evil is currently in it’s 6th iteration, Call Of Duty has it’s own Zombie Mode, and there are zombie enemy types in more games than I care to list. For the most part, I have ignored these Zombie Themed games out of personal lack of interest. But whenever a new one comes out, it’s typically worth a look. As such would be the case with the newly released trailer from Techland, titled “Dying Light“:

As most of you may already know, what we just got a little taste of in this trailer is what is known as “Free Running” or Parkour. Scan through YouTube through countless compilation vids such as this one from a few years back, and it’s even featured in the music video for Murs – Can It Be. I bet he never thought this vid would be referenced in a Zombie Survival Video Game Review! Also, if you’ve ever played any of the Assassin’s Creed games, you should be quite familiar on how this method of movement operates.

THE ANALYSIS

Moving on with the Trailer review, the trailer opens up with ominous bell tolling as we see the Warner Brother’s and Techland logos flash across the screen in an equally ominous theme.

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Rule #1 of surviving the Zombie Apocalypse = Cardio.

At 0:14, we see the first glimpse of the world that we shall be running around in. We see a few colorful banners on flag poles, casually flapping in a dusk breeze. The edges of the flags seem to be tattered and singed. There are two flag patterns displayed: the more pinkish one has a definite silhouette of a runner on the bottom, while the blue/orange one seems to be the side view of a woman in a beach chair. So it looks like we’re in the midst of a resort or resort town, and there was some kind of flash fire or brief burst of heat. Had it been a sustained heat, then the flags in their entirety would be burned off rather than just singing the edges.

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Post Zombie Apocalypse Construction Site

0:17, we simultaneous hear “Run, boy, run” and we see our first living entity, a lone man leaping out of a half-built structure and in to a construction site. As he lands on the ground, we see a few more people close behind him. Just in reinforce the flavor and add a little flash to the presentation, we are gifted with a little twist before sticking the landing at  0:22.

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We’re in this together…for now…

0:25, our initial yellow shirted runner stops momentarily to survey the scene, while the 2 additional runners catch up to him and follow suit. Being that they’re not tackling him, it looks like they’re working cooperatively at this point, or at least they have no reason to kill him….yet….

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Cargo Drop on a roof

0:27, also we see a plane fly overhead and off in to the distance. A moment later, we see a trio of parachutes open up as the plane drops a crate. Quick zoom in on the crate landing on a rooftop, then back to our friendlies to see them crack a quick smirk and continue on.

As they run between building, we see that there are 4 of them in total, and all are carrying some form of gear. our lead runner has some kind of cross chest sash and a satchel, the two behind him have some kind of club or hammer in hand. Until actual gameplay footage is revealed, I can only hope that the parkour displayed to reach these building tops is not just for flash in the trailer. Also worth noting is the general condition of their clothing. The styles seem to be of modern day, and all of equal filth. Being this isn’t a “Behind Enemy Lines” kind of combat sim, I’m guess we’re in some form of dystopian future. Oh, and the the zombies in the next scene may also be a hint to that.

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BRAAINNNSS!!!

0:35, cue shambling rot-face and obligatory “unnngghhhhh!”

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GIANT RED WRENCH TO THE FACE!

0:36, close up on giant red wrench. I’m not sure how far it goes back, but by today’s standards any time you see the “Giant Red Wrench” you know someone’s getting rocked across the face with it at some point. Being that it’s in the center of the screen for it’s very own close up, it’s little surprise that we see such an impact at 0:37. Again with the free running flair, just for a little spice.

A little more running, and it’s up and over the guard rail, and down through a few boards. Switch up the orientation of the environment, and we’re now pressing against a door inside a building. Note that the interior of the building is in the same derelict condition as the rest of the team and previous scene. On the opposite side of the door, we see several pairs of hands pushing back, and bursting through a splintering door at 0:47. In rush a legion of undead, and everyone (free) runs for their lives.

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Knock knock!

Except one….they get caught by the zombies and is victim to the appetite of the undead. Note that in this scene, no one comes back to save him. The man is shown being attacked by the zombies, and we don’t see a single runner even look back. On the contrary, they don’t even seem to recognize or acknowledge that they’ve lost a teammate! Apparently, survival of the fittest reigns supreme in this world! How will this be reflected in game play?

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I don’t need to be the fastest. I just need to be faster than you!

0:53, we see another of our supposed teammates fend off the rushing zombies only to also be overrun. Aside for a quick close up so we can see the agony, our main runner again abandons another for saving himself. Regarding the zombies in these 2 previous scenes, it should be noted that they are running as well. Expect to see both shamblers and sprinters through the course of the game.

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By the power of Odin, I smash your skull!!

1:01, as our main runner climbs up and out of a sewer and into an underground tunnel, we are greeted with another pocket of zombies in a frenzy. A quick look over the shoulder, and we see another living man in a struggle. For the first time, we see our man rush in to save someone other than himself, but not before energizing his wrench.

Yes, his wrench suddenly becomes as electrically charged! Apparently, we’ll be able to obtain upgrades for our weapons throughout the game, regardless of how mundane they may be. Perhaps they’ll be temporary power-ups rather than permanent upgrades? We can’t tell based on this trailer alone, but given the capacity of next gen consoles, let alone current gen, it shouldn’t be too hard to work those factor in.

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This can’t be good

More running through the tunnels, and ofcourse one way in the fork is blocked off by more advancing zombies. One of which is brave enough to get up close and give a frightening scream. As we get a close up of this visage at 1:17, we see that the lower jaw is actually split in to separate mandibles. So this isn’t just a simple “rise from your grave” type of zombie apocalypse, but additional mutations on top of it. Alien? Viral? Twisted Supernatural Evil? No way to tell from the trailer, so we’ll just have to wait.

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This REALLY can’t be good!!

1:21, we see the screamer zombie chasing after our runner. In the dim light, we can see that this particular strain of zombies have very little skin as the majority of their muscles and tendons are visible. As they leap for the ladder on the far side of the shaft, we see that only our main runner has enough lift to make it across and hang on. As the trailing zombies fall in to the abyss, we also hear the brief shriek of his companion falling down as well.

For those of you keeping count, he’s saved 1 out of 4 other living beings. Of the 3 that have passed, he’s completely ignored each of them, showing no remorse, regret, or the slightest shred of empathy. This makes me think that this is much less about cooperative survival, and more about some kind of survival competition.

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Almost there

1:35, as he climbs up the final ladder to the roof top, battery enhanced wrench in hand, he collapses over the curb, bloodied and tired. Knowing that this is the end of his hard forced trek, he staggers to his feet and pushes on to the crate from the beginning of the trailer. The sun is getting lower in the sky, and the white and yellow parachute flaps innocently to the side. Inside the crate, there are some kind of lights flashing along the bottom.

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No one likes a camper….

1:46, he knows he’s finally made it. A deep swallow and a brief breath, he knows that he’s going to be OK. Of course, this is precisely the moment that the unknown man in the shadows has been waiting for. A silent crack against the back of the skull, and our exhausted runner falls with little resistance. Through the eyes of the recently fallen, we see the unknown man lumber by, baseball bat in hand, towards the crate.

GOOD NIGHT. GOOD LUCK. DYING LIGHT. Let it all drip down, and credits to fade.

WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR

Obviously, this is a Zombie Apocalypse game. All the baddies shown were in some stage of decay. As for the zombies themselves, we’ll be treated to a full variety types; the slow moving shamblers, sprinters, and even those with excessive and exposed muscles with separated mandibles.

Based on the styles shown, it is to be set in modern day. This would include clothing, architectural, and technological. Granted the tunnels looked dated, but they also looked as if they had been abandoned for some time as well.

This will definitely be a multi-player game. There was little to no sense of “Me Against The World”, more like “I must survive”. What is interesting is the dynamic shown with the other living people. In all instances, there was only 1 where there was a hint of actual cooperation. The rest of the scenes showed the main runner totally abandoning anyone who couldn’t keep up as if they were in a race to the top….speaking of which…

What’s the deal with the crate? It seems that everyone was racing towards the same crate. Not only that, but the way that it’s drop was timed in the trailer makes it seem like their whole purpose in this part of town is, in fact, to race towards the cargo drop. And once the crate was reached, there was one last competitor lurking in the shadows waiting for his time to strike. Perhaps this is more of a “winner takes all” survival competition rather than “we’re all in this together” type of scenario.

As displayed with the charged up wrench, there will some form of upgrading system in place for weapons. The permanency of these upgrades is not discussed here, but their existence in undeniable. Obviously, adding an electrical “Shocking” trait to weapons will be one. As to what else will come through, we’ll wait and see.

One last thing to discuss is the game’s title, “Dying Light”. The “Dying” aspect is readily evident with the presence of zombies. But the “Light” portion of the title seems a bit more elusive. As seen in the beginning of the trailer, a cargo crate was dropped as the runners set foot in the soon-to-be arena. After the drop, the crate itself was left unprotected, save for the man with the bat. All of this also takes place at dusk, so the day light is already fading. And as daylight fades, we all know that night fall brings nothing but horrors. Even with the game’s tag lines: “Good night, good luck”, the juxtaposition of light and night is again prevalent. Is there a time limit set for this competition? What happens if night does fall? Also in the tag line is the term “good luck”, which is something commonly said to someone about to enter some kind of competition or performance.

WHAT TO EXPECT

  1. Zombies. Lots of them.
  2. Free running through the environments.
  3. Emphasis on Multi-Player.
  4. Modern Day survival.
  5. Winner-takes-all survival challenge.
  6. Limited weaponry.
  7. Interesting power-ups and upgrades.
  8. Time limit to reach the crate.
  9. Emphasis on cut-throat game play strategy.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Loved the music choice for this trailer! I personally hate it when companies use a popular song in a commercial or trailer because it’s hot at that current time, but has nothing to do with the content of the video. (Hey Microsoft, you realize that “Alex Clare – Too Close” is a break-up song, right?) The song chosen here sets the right mood with tense beat pounding and woeful lyrics.
  • Holy Ish, the women are clothed just as much as the men! It saddens me that this is actually significant. If you haven’t noticed, the portrayal of women in video games is excessively sexualized. In some cases, it has gone past the point of sexist to shamefully comical. Even when the women are given “strong” roles, their appearances and “anatomical proportions” are so skewed that they over shadow whatever redeeming character qualities the writers have given them. So, to finally see a woman who is dressed PROPERLY for the task at hand, is a nice change of pace.
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