Note: At the time of this writing, the Dying Light Platinum Edition is not available on Switch eShop in Europe until there is an issue with the game being blocked in Germany.
In 2011, Techland released Dead Island on most seventh generation consoles and received mostly positive reviews. Still, Dead Island had never been quite the game Techland envisioned, both due to creative differences with the publisher and due to hardware limitations. As a result, the studio went its own way and began developing Dying Light, a much more ambitious release that hopefully would come a lot closer to the studio’s original vision.
Dying Light was released a few years later in 2015 for a much more positive reception and sale, and now Techland has solved the Herculean task of getting its flagship release to the Switch. While there are some undeniable hardware limitations, Dying Light Platinum Edition brings the entire experience to the Switch in all of its terrifying, undead glory with formidable results.
Dying Light puts you in the role of Kyle Crane, a member of an organization called Global Relief Effort that is apparently aimed at containing the problems that have arisen from the zombie pandemic. We start with Kyle doing a HALO jump into the city of Harran, which has been completely overrun by zombies, in search of a man who is believed to have files on a possible cure for the infection. Of course, things don’t go quite as planned, and Kyle is bitten almost immediately, but he is rescued by a local coalition of survivors and soon joins as the “Scout” tending to the town. While Dying Light doesn’t offer a particularly memorable or gripping narrative, the story still hits the right note and doesn’t get much in the way of entertaining gameplay.
At its core, Dying Light is a first-person platformer and brawler, with some light RPG elements thrown in to keep things interesting. As an open world action game, Dying Light follows the tried and true method of giving you a great old playground to explore and complete quests. Most of your time is spent roaming the rundown streets – crawling with the undead – trying to find the most efficient routes over buildings and other surrounding objects as you go here to pick up an item or some other special one Kill enemy. Kyle is particularly skilled at freerunning, and this athleticism is vital if you are practically jumping, climbing, and jumping over it All.
Looking at any surface and tapping the “R” prompts Kyle to climb, and your mobility is often your most important asset to getting through in one piece. You can always struggle the zombies, and there are often situations where you have no choice but to make it clear that this is not the most ideal option.
For one thing, guns don’t play a big role here. Not only are bullets extremely hard to find, but there is also a risk that firing shots will attract the attention of zombies, which are much more difficult to shake by simply hopping over a fence. Most of your time is spent with pipes, socket wrenches, boards, and anything else you think can behead a zombie if you swing it hard enough. Everything has different power levels and rarities, and if you use a weapon too often it can break and become effectively useless. But don’t worry, you can repair your favorite weapons with spare parts and even improve them with new upgrades if you have the right materials.
In practice, it feels a bit like a less annoying version of the equipment system in Breath of the Wild. Your weapons aren’t necessarily made of glass, but much like free-flowing gameplay, you’ll be encouraged to avoid stagnation and keep moving on to other gear. But if you Yes, really like this socket wrench, you can maybe throw a mod at it that will set your enemies on fire and make the gun so much more usable.
The RPG elements come to the fore when it comes to building Kyle, who starts with three branching skill trees that determine his skills. Every time you pull yourself up another ledge or jump over another hood, Kyle gets a few more points to help level his agility tree. Every time you knock down another zombie with a piece of wood, you will earn a few points for your power tree. This creates a pleasantly rewarding feedback loop where no instance of Dying Light’s gameplay feels like wasted. No matter what you do, some levels up and eventually gives you rewards to make the game so much easier.
Since this is the Platinum Edition, you can be sure that there is an absolute mountain of content to chew through. While it sometimes feels like Dying Light 2 was forever the game that is “coming out” “soon,” Techland has kept fans busy by keeping a near-constant stream of updates and DLCs lately six years. All of this content is free to Switch and easily adds another fifty hours to an already sizeable base game. Also, those of you who want to browse this content with a friend or two can enjoy local (wireless) or online co-op. There’s even a fun ‘Be the Zombie’ game mode for those of you looking to measure yourself against other players, although it has to be said that this is more of an amusing distraction than a full-fledged game mode. All of this means that Dying Light is a terribly good bang for your buck; Chances are you won’t end this one feeling like you’ve been ripped off.
The only major complaint we can really make against Dying Light is that this switch port is obviously not the prettiest version on the market. The 30 FPS frame rate holds pretty close to its target, but things tend to get more choppy as more is happening on the screen, and this can be especially egregious when running away from nighttime hordes.
Additionally, the muddier textures, blurry shadows, and more frequent pop-ins take the thrill of the action a bit. That being said, let’s not ignore what a miracle effort was put into getting Dying Light up and running at all on the humble hardware of the switch. It might look pretty rough around the edges, but those visual tradeoffs are easily wiped away by the convenience of playing such an ambitious release on the go. So if you don’t take your Switch out of the dock or out of the house often, it’s natural to buy this version unless you don’t have access to other, more powerful hardware to keep it running.
Dying Light on Switch is a notable feat, and we’re excited to announce that Techland made the landing for the most part with this one. Its ambitious open world of zombies is unlike anything else in the Switch library, and between the core campaign and six years of constant DLC updates, there may be hundreds of hours of fun here. Granted, all of this comes at the expense of performance, which can be mediocre compared to other platforms, but this is offset by the convenience of playing in handheld mode. We’d give Dying Light a strong recommendation, with the caveat that Switch owners who rarely play in portable mode might want to take a break and consider buying it elsewhere. Wherever you may fall, we strongly encourage you to consider this switch port. it’s really quite good.