Dying Light: Game Analysis: A Digital Nightmare by Deffinition
Days Gone sees release this year and whilst many are exhibiting it as a revolutionary open world zombie game, there currently exists a heavily underrated one that I think many fans of the genre overlook. That game is Dying Light.
Celebrating it’s third year anniversary, I was surprised at how unrepresented this release is. Often missing the coverage and placement in top ten lists that it so rightly deserves Dying Light should be regarded more highly than it is. On the surface it seems like a mix between Mirror’s Edge and Dead Island, however, thematically and aesthetically there is a lot more going on beneath it’s horrifying surface.
Horror In Harran
Beyond the fact that the title heavily implies the creeping in of darkness and need for rest and sleep as the night takes over, there are also several signifyers that symbolise Dying Light’s correlation with a nightmare.
Dropped off into the fictional middle eastern city of Harran, players are instantly hit with a key motif of Dying Light. The feeling of falling into a deep deep sleep that one is unable to escape from. Catapulting into a twisted vision of a paradise city one would be amiss for not noticing the similarities between the town and what most would describe as a Dream Vacation. The Sun is glaring, the beaches are beautiful and the surroundings seem like the perfect mix between a metropolis and a sun bathing city. This is heaven on Earth, or so it would be should things not go awry.
Our hero is instantly shocked out of his dream-like state upon the realisation that the entire city scape is infested with the undead.
Much like a dream, throughout the entire game the hero is given little guidance. One must stumble across guns and figure out how to use them on their own. Often I wandered into dangerous areas, misguided and afraid and there is a sense of fear to the exploration that one must endure in order to progress.
Learning New Trick
Even after 50 hours of playing I am still learning new tricks such as opening car trunks, lock picking police vans and scavenging what I can from this living and breathing digital nightmare. The story does very little hand holding and few will make it.
This is perfect as it allows the game to have that extra level of tension. There is no magic guide or trick taught that you can use to get out of situations. If you are to survive you must become a survivor.
Never Go Out At Night
The game further cements itself as the perfect personification of a nightmare when the player decides to venture into the night. Running blindly with nothing but a flashlight to guide them the inability to see more than what is visible in the cone of the torch provided gives the world a claustrophic feeling. Player’s are trapped. Cut off from what is going on around them, often travelling blindly through the environment unable to see what is around the next corner, similar to how the human brain operates during sleep. Enemies are stronger, faster and infinitely more dangerous. Gamers must hurry back to their bed to escape the nightmare and it perfectly encapsulates the ideology that this is dream gone wrong. A different kind of sleep is the only refuge if players are to survive.
If one decides to venture into the night you will instantly be hit by the change in dynamics. This is your deepest and darkest fears and the only defence is to run even though you know that your legs are barely enough to carry you and your strength is not enough to fight back. Players must go into an almost docile state in order to make it. This too captures the feeling of sleep paralysis as one must simply fall back into one’s surroundings and accept whatever fate the demons in the dark decide for them.
The Greatest Zombie Game Ever Made
With regular updates and continuing support from developers, plus an amazing base game, Dying Light is definitely a journey worth taking. If like me you waited nearly three years before picking it up then you are definitely in for a breathtaking surprise. There is a lot going on here and it is one of my favorite horror games of all time.
You won’t want to miss this.
Thanks for checking out my analysis of Dying Light: The Following. Do you agree with my conclusion that it is based heavily around the inner workings of a dream? Comment below and let me know and make sure you subscribe to my Youtube channel as I post Movie, Comic and Game releated analysations weekly.
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