Warning: The following review of Dying Light: The Following contains at least two(2) spoilers and one(1) disparaging comment about the quality of casino buffets in Louisiana. Suck it Louisiana.
When you can take two or more things that I like and give them to me as one thing, that’s pretty awesome. For example: Casino buffets (not you, Louisiana) give me crabs or lobster, prime rib, and just about any dessert I could possibly want to eat, so, you know: awesome. The new midnight edition of SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt gives me NBA and NFL coverage, gambling tips, and Aqua-Teen cameos, so: awesome.
It’s for this reason that Techland’s Dying Light: The Following should also be awesome: I get parkour (which I don’t usually get to do because I’m lazy), zombies (which I don’t get to kill…yet), and the ability to run over anyone who gets in between me and my objective (which I don’t get to do because there’s no justice in this world).
Dying Light: The Following takes place in the aftermath of the original story, with the protagonist, Kyle Crane, learning from a survivor that there are people immune to infection in “the countryside.” Conveniently, you begin gameplay in a sewer tunnel that just happens to lead to this area. (Despite having spent pretty much the entirety of the core game searching for a way to get survivors out of the desperation of the quarantine and coming up short.) In the countryside, you meet a handful of vaguely ethnic survivors, all of whom seem to be in league with a cult called The Children of the Sun, and none of whom are eager to speak with you.
After you spend a couple missions doing Kyle Crane things, you gain the ability to start doing odd jobs for the settlements in the region, and develop a relationship with the Children of the Sun, eventually joining their ranks and learning the truth about their mysterious leader: “The Mother.”
From a story perspective, the game is solid. There are a couple of minor plot holes when compared to the original, such as the presence of about 400,000 police and military checkpoints in what amounts to Harran’s version of Smallville. It seems to be the solution for power-creep, as the players are expected to be high enough level to require that level of loot, but judging by the number of cop cars, the crisis should have lasted about 13 seconds before every zombie was obliterated in a hail of gunfire from about 29,000 police officers. (They probably all died because their guns SUCK; see below.) A good attempt was made by the writers to incorporate a player choice leading to two endings, and despite the choice being relatively inconsequential as far as the protagonist is concerned, it did puzzle me as to what in the wide world of sports they intend to do with the next DLC. (And there will be more DLC.)
The gameplay is exactly what you got in Dying Light, except with more open areas to run in, and the introduction of their new mechanic (hehe): driving. You get your vehicle almost immediately, with no real explanation about why the only vehicle that works is your dune buggy. (Or the SUV’s the bandits show up in at the end of the game, which are the exact same vehicles that are disabled all over the map but painted differently, but whatever. /rant)
The driving, simply put, is fun. You can exchange parts on your vehicle, make repairs just like in the melee weapon system, and as you level up your ‘driver’ skill, you can make modifications such as a ram-bar and flamethrower, which are both buckets o’ fun. The driving is equally challenging and rewarding as you splatter zombies all over the countryside, but risk damage to your vehicle basically any time you do anything. Parts are easy to come by through salvaging the static vehicles on the map, and you do gain access to rare resources for upgrading your buggy as the game progresses.
If achievements and collectibles are your thing, the game incorporates a number of extra driving-specific challenges and races. The buggy also supports a passenger who has the option to sit in the back and read the latest edition of Good Harranskeeping, or to stand up in the back and use firearms or the crossbow to help clear the hordes. I was delighted, much to the dismay of my co-op partner, to learn that as the driver I could clothesline him to death with low hanging branches and the occasiona…
Yes, I said crossbow.
Okay, okay, slow down there Darryl.
The crossbow (and bow, but who cares?) is the main addition to your zombie slaying arsenal. It comes with a variety of ammunition, upgrades passively via the main storyline, and is downright OP. The crossbow easily one-shots mini-bosses and it highlights a complaint of mine about the original Dying Light: Why do guns have to suck? The melee weapon crafting and upgrade system is awesome. It keeps itself simple while allowing for a great deal of customization, and the inevitable permanent loss of a weapon to gives the player pause when assigning resources and cleaving through crowds alike. Why, with this excellent groundwork, are you stuck with whatever gun you happen to pick up off the ground and no ability to modify it at all? If we’re willing to suspend realism long enough for me to fall off the top of a power pole onto a pile of trash bags filled with what sounds like broken glass and hepatitis, and get up without a scratch, then why can’t I have electric bullets? Why can’t I at least get a scope or a red dot or a SILENCER. FOR THE ZOMBIES.
Graphically, the expansion delivers what the original did with a country twang. Freerunning and climbing allows for some amazing vista views and there’s plenty of exploration to do. The gore is abundant and even has an impact on the game as you try to wipe zombie guts out of your eyes while plowing through the horde in your bumper car. The cutscenes are very active, and provide for a decently immersive first person experience, despite some instances where Kyle Crane seems to just be moving his head a lot and not actually interacting with the world.
All things considered Dying Light: The Following is a solid addition to the franchise, but it’s not without flaws. Most of the bosses, including the final boss are simply large sacks of HP, with the latter slapping on a pointlessly random quick-time event that will instantly kill you if you fail. (It was so frustrating, I almost considering docking an entire point from the game just for that fight alone.) It reminds me of third round of Family Feud, where the incompetent family that lost the first two rounds gets to advance because they stole one good answer at the very end. (Except, y’know, with a teleporting psychotic rage monster.)
The lack of an upgrade system for the firearms seems like an egregious oversight, considering the work that has gone into the systems for upgrading and crafting melee weapons and car parts. I also noticed some minor instances where the dynamic quest system could get confused by the interaction of multiple players in Co-op, but these were not gamebreaking. (The worst being an instance where we helped a man off the ground, despite the fact that he was still standing and shouting insults at bandits who were, in fact, in pieces on the ground). The game was not perfect in any one area, but is a solid play for fans of the original, and is definitely fun to play with a friend.
A special thanks to my Co-Op partner for this playthrough of Dying Light: The Following, who will not be named per his request for privacy. (It was Benjamin Putland, y’all.)
This game was reviewed thanks to a code supplied by the developer. Thanks, guys!