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Dying Light: A Lesson In Why Fluidity And Pacing Are Critical

For the record, the full review will be up very soon. These are some impressions.

There are elements in video games that often defy explanation and analysis. Well, what I mean is that it's difficult to convey one's thoughts on such traits, mostly because they're A. partially subjective, and B. not always qualitative.

In Dying Light, I have to say that two things keep leaping out at me: A distinct and disappointing lack of pacing and general gameplay fluidity. Granted, some will have different standards and definitions and I accept that. But when I'm playing, I'm always noticing the fantastic potential within the game, and I'm always interested in seeing what comes next. Developer Techland did a great job providing the player with a tense, gritty environment that demands attention.

On the flip side, the actual gameplay feels like a misfiring engine. One minute, it's going along just fine and the next, it's sputtering and gasping for air. This is caused by an occasionally questionable game design that causes the player to fall into a rut. There are times when you're just running from more zombies or leaping around, climbing all over stuff. This is when the adventure starts to lose its focus. But the instant you accept another very cool side mission, you're re-immersed in a fantastic atmosphere that requires vigilance, strategy and timing.

Then, you're bogged down by what I call a fluidity issue. The idea is to combine the free-running/parkour elements found in a game like Mirror's Edge with a creepy first-person survival adventure. It's a great concept, to be sure. And most of the time, it works. On the other hand, when going flat-out (usually trying to run from zombies), it just doesn't feel as fluid and intuitive as it should. There are breaks in the continuity and every time I encounter one of those little breaks, I frown in frustration.

In so many ways, Dying Light feels like a near-miss to me. It has all the right components but they don't always gel together and that leaves me with an unfulfilled sensation. I will not, however, insult the game's ambition and style, nor will I cast aspersions on the adventure's focus on something besides slashing and dashing. It's a good game. It's just not the amazing gem it could've been, that's all.

Related Game(s): Dying Light

Tags: dying light, dying light review, dying light impressions

1/29/2015 9:43:57 PM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (20 posts)


WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, January 29, 2015 @ 10:38:17 PM
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Those are a good set of things that result from the open world "freedom" trend that all games must have now.

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frostface
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 2:53:51 AM

I had this exact problem with Dragon Age Inquisition. That was my most anticipated game and the biggest let down despite what all the reviews say about it.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 7:14:24 AM

Thank you! Jesus H. Christ somebody sane is here to agree with me about that game. It fell apart at the seams by trying to become more open.

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Deleted User
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 7:44:58 AM

I'm with you on that too

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FM23
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 9:06:57 PM

I personally think the story took a hit because of the time dedicated to making to huge world, but the game itself rocked imo. The ending was shamelessly rushed, but the overall game was great in my opinion. But compared to prior Bio releases (foregoing ME3 pre-fixed ending), the story was pretty straightforward, predictable, and somewhat unrewarding. As far as gameplay, somethings could have been expanded upon but overall I enjoyed it.

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DemonNeno
Thursday, January 29, 2015 @ 11:55:58 PM
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The controls feel weird. R1 just made it amateur hour with my learning curve. Why don't games allow button mapping/preset configs?

The FPS part makes timing some of the leaps a bit weird. Having to stare right at ledges makes me feel like a child who's too short to reach the candy on the counter.

I like the environment interaction a lot with the non-parkour segments. Looting and lock picking feel very rewarding and offer a decent mix of items. Lock picking itself is very fun. A lot of games miss on that and intimidate me when I have less than half a dozen picks.

In the end, it doesn't feel anything like parkour to me. Maybe I just suck that bad at it.

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Corvo
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 1:06:08 AM
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Won't say much other than it's leagues superior to Dead Island. It's addicting and probably the first game I played for 9 hours straight in a looooooong time. Course, I'm not alone. I play with friends. I bet a game like this would be the worst thing ever alone. In Jolly Sun-Coop, its what you have been craving for next gen.


...Coop wise.

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Beamboom
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 4:20:41 AM
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I kinda agree with you Ben. At the same time, I salute the game for not being as "sticky"/"magnetic" as often are found in these kind of games. When I get my flow interrupted I always understand why. When I try something and fail (like jumping to a ledge I'm unsure if really is too far away) I understand it when it indeed was too far. So I learn and get a more precise estimate on what I can do. And really, when I travel on familiar grounds it goes faster - as it should.

So that particular aspect I'm actually quite satisified with. And I expect the gasping for air etc will improve as I level up the agility tree. It's like the sucky spells at the beginning of an RPG. Or so I expect.

But I've not gotten far yet. Just so that is said.


Last edited by Beamboom on 1/30/2015 4:21:26 AM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 11:09:31 AM

what would u score the game?

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Beamboom
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 12:37:01 PM

Ow, that's a hard question this early in the game. I really need to get further into the game before I feel comfortable with setting a score. I'd probably say that based on first impressions it's around 80. So far it's given me the "80'ish vibes".

Very good voice acting! Quite interesting story within the boundaries of the traditional zombie setting, and nice graphics pulls it up for sure. And I really like that parkour touch. It makes it alright that the weapons are damaged just as fast as they did in Dead Island (something I found really annoying in that game). This is, as I see it, a game about dodging, planning and running, and not fighting.

There are some frame rate issues on the PC version though, who they really *really* need to sort out. But as of now I got some patience, they claim they are working on it.

Last edited by Beamboom on 1/30/2015 12:42:38 PM

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Deleted User
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 5:57:37 AM
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Love the teaser of the review. Hopefully, we get these with all of the substantial releases this year.

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___________
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 6:55:04 AM
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another example of a really good idea, got oodles of potential, but my god does it let you down!
really needs the parkour system of sunset overdrive grinding on rails and wall running.
need to remove the stupid you have to look at the ledge before you can grab it, I'm flying mid air i don't have time!
feels far too finicky, especially for a game that puts such a premium on speed and fluidity.
would be nice to have stronger weapons too, i mean it just seems stupid having to beat on a zombies skull 100 times to kill just one freaking zombie!
and you only have the stamina for like 3 hits then you have to sit and wait for it to grow back all while you have 100 hungry mouths chopping at you.
takes far too long to unlock the decent weapons and even character upgrades like sliding under a gate is a upgrade you don't get till like 5 hours in!
WTF!?
every other game has that as a standard feature unlocked from the get go!
since when is air conditioning optional on a brand new $60000 luxury vehicle?

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Beamboom
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 9:56:59 AM

Your agility, and skills that comes with it, is increased with the levels. I'm totally fine with my character being able to do more physical stuff (sliding) as skill increase.


Last edited by Beamboom on 1/30/2015 9:57:51 AM

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berserk
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 10:49:23 AM

I like that better then having everything after 10 hours on a 30-40 hour game .

Feel more real that way too .The more you run from/fight zombies , the better you get at it .

Only thing i can agree with is that weapons don t start strong enough .

P.s Having to look up to grab something is a great idea in my opinion . Nothing worst then grabbing something you don t want to ( ac nightmare )

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DemonNeno
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 8:40:51 AM
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Anyone else notice the "Handling" upgrade category description? "Speed at WITCH you can swing".

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 11:09:59 AM

ESL= english as a second language

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DemonNeno
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 11:39:43 AM

Witch means what, exactly?

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Beamboom
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 12:44:18 PM

Polish devs. :)

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berserk
Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 10:42:26 AM
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All i have to do to enjoy this game is to dropkick those nasty zombies . The ragdoll physics in this game is awesome .

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Rachet_JC_FTW
Sunday, February 01, 2015 @ 6:44:22 PM
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with the ideas behind this game the fluidity and freedom we were suppose to be able to enjoy with this game

happy gaming

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