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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dying Light is a first-person horror adventure set in a zombie apocalypse in Harran, Turkey. While the combat is mostly against these creatures and clearly is fictional, players can use both melee and range weapons (including shotguns) to kill enemies. Enemies can splatter blood, lose limbs, or even be decapitated during combat, and some cut scenes are graphic in nature, too. The game also is a bit scary, with some "survivor horror" elements. Strong profanity is frequently used, and players may be interested in purchasing additional content via download. Parents also need to know online players can talk freely with other gamers, potentially exposing them to inappropriate commentary.
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What's it about?
DYING LIGHT is a first-person action survival game that casts the player as Kyle Crane, a soldier dropped into a quarantined area of the "fictional" city of Harran, Turkey (even though Harran was a real ancient city in that area about 3,000 B.C.!). It's set in a vast open world with day and night missions, and your goal is to survive the zombie outbreak by scavenging for supplies, crafting weapons, setting up traps, rescuing survivors, and battling hoards of the flesh-eating undead. You'll also face off against a brutal dictator, Kadir (Rais) Sulaiman, as you complete many objectives based on your mission goals while helping others. Along with a lengthy single-player campaign, the game offers multiplayer modes, downloadable content (DLC), and special online maps.
Is it any good?
Dying Light delivers an immersive action experience. You'll fight against zombies and take advantage of parkour abilities such as jumping across rooftops or from ladders to ledges, which separates Dying Light from other first-person action games (parkour is usually found in third-person adventures, such as in Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed titles). The many missions, huge locations, upgrade system, and weapon crafting provide a lot of bang for the buck -- and that doesn't even include the various multiplayer modes offered. These include four-player cooperative play and a "Be the Zombie" download for those who want to turn the tables on the good guys.
Although the similarities to the Dead Island games can't be ignored, Dying Light nicely balances the day/night objectives. While the sun is out, you'll find yourself performing tasks for other survivors (such as helping a pregnant woman deliver a baby) -- but at night, when zombies are stronger, faster, and more plentiful, you'll need to do your best to survive until the sun comes up again. Visually, the game looks great, with weather effects, high-definition characters (though lip-synching is so-so), and expansive, varied environments. But repetitive missions take away from some of the fun -- there are more than 100 missions and side quests, so a "less is more" approach would've helped gameplay become more polished and enjoyable. Still, Dying Light is an exceptional game worth picking up for those on a next-gen console or PC. It's a gratifying adventure for mature players who like action, exploration, and "survival horror" elements.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Can fantasy violence such as the content in Dying Light desensitize kids to real-life violence? Should parents not be worried because a zombie outbreak is too far-fetched a scenario to be concerned about the violence depicted in the game?
Discuss the survival horror aspects of the game. What makes scary games and movies fun to play and watch? Are there reasons why people like being scared? Do you think the plot would be as successful if the monsters in this game were completely different?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Warner Bros. Games
- Release date: January 28, 2015
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.