March 5, 2018
MarkBernstein.org
 
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After Dying Light

I’ve been noodling around with Dying Light, an (more-or-less) open-world first-person zombie apocalypse game.

On my iMac Pro, it’s impressively immersive, and the immersivity itself is a ton of fun. In a way, that’s all the fun: as big foreign town filled with hostile monsters ready to chase you. There are lots of good narrative hooks here, but the designers don’t use them or don’t see them; the stories you get are mostly pretty dull. But, still, there’s a whole city there, one that doesn’t suffer terribly from repetitively reused elements.

I thought that that point of zombies was twofold. First, the engine’s tendency to get walking slightly wrong doesn't cross into the uncanny valley if that’s where you start. Monsters walk monstrously. And second, superhero games where you mow down legions are (slightly) less awful if the legions are irredeemable. And that’s the point of the zombie. The problem here is that the designers are also really interested in detailed gore and that good old ultra-violence. I’m not. And there's something deeply, deeply disturbing to me about pummeling (among others) young women of color with a baseball bat, even if those young women of color want to eat your character’s brains.

A show-stopper for me is that the game is built with chokepoint missions, and some of those missions involve doing extraordinary feats at great heights, all realistically depicted with extra vertigo thrown in. I hated that — enough that I said to myself, “this is supposed to be fun and it’s not required reading.” Ouch. It’s the only time I remember where I actually wanted a cheat code. (Oddly, there doesn't seem to be one!)


So, what do I want to play that’s not loathsome, reasonably open, and that offers this kind of adrenalin-spiked immersion? Email me.