Dying Light: Platinum Edition Review

Dying Light: Platinum Edition Review Image

When I was a teenager, I bought into the hype by the rather breathtaking Dead Island trailer. As a 15-year-old without a job, I didn’t really get the opportunity to buy many games, so I put a lot of faith into such a cool-looking zombie game. Maybe you felt differently, and that’s okay, but for me and many others, it was quite the disappointment. It was an hour into running around Dying Light’s world that I started to remember my time playing Dead Island, and I was surprised to see that this was made by the same developers. I was more surprised to see that it existed as the properly fleshed-out version of Dead Island’s rough idea. Dying Light: Platinum Edition is one of the most fun zombie games you can currently play on the market right now. What’s even crazier is that I can say that the Nintendo Switch version is a totally adequate version for you to play. 

If you’ve played a lot of Switch ports, you probably don’t believe me. If you’ve played a lot of Switch ports of games made on the PlayStation 4, then you definitely don’t believe me. Add in an open world? No way, I’d have to be pulling your leg. Dying Light: Platinum Edition is one of those rare miracle ports. One that only comes from a very hard-working and passionate development team that understands the Switch hardware backward and forward. When I saw this was announced for Switch, I was admittedly cynical. I’ve danced this dance before, most of these kinds of ports end up rough. They come from a place of needing to sell a game on the Switch rather than sell a good game on Switch.

Dying Light: Platinum Edition Review Screenshot 1

As a game, Dying Light is a wonderful time and an example of a AAA game with more than meets the eye. The story is generic zombie apocalypse flair but it’s entertaining if you go in with the right expectations. I wasn’t able to get too invested, but I don’t think it’s meant to really do much but bridge together fun missions. Gameplay is king here, and the freedom of parkouring across buildings while ducking and weaving through the zombie horde. Dying Light: Platinum Edition offers something every survival game should – constant split-second decision-making. Being chased by a horde is no joke, and they can quickly swarm cocky players who don’t respect the game.

When I play open-world games I typically let my brain goblins overtake me. I’m thorough to my own detriment, and it’s always fun to play a game that doesn’t necessarily incentivize that behavior. You certainly can, but it can be dangerous behavior. I remember early on running from a horde of zombies and ducking into a desolate house. My health was low, and I desperately needed some health items. I started to raid it for any supplies, but there were some zombies inside that started making noise. Even if they couldn’t, just thinking they could? Exhilarating. I don’t typically care for the survival genre, and this game hooked me hard.

In another instance, you’re running from frenzied zombies at night that are much more nimble. It’s always generally safer to stick to the rooftops while you’re playing, with climbing and jumping off them being manageable and easy. At night time things become a lot more challenging, especially if you’ve found yourself trapped on a roof and desperately need to get off. Those few seconds looking for a nearby building to leap to the ledge, trash on the ground to catch your fall, or risking it all to take some fall damage if it means you can escape something possibly worse? I live for those kinds of moments. I can easily forgive a forgettable story if the game itself offers moments like this. 

Dying Light: Platinum Edition Review Screenshot 2

It’s a good thing that these kinds of moments aren’t held up by performance issues typical of many Switch ports. It targets 30 frames-per-second, something the original console version apparently aimed for as well, and regularly hits it. Digital Foundry put out a great video discussing the port, and also showed that the performance is pretty solid if you want video evidence. For such a big map that loads in all at once, this is a triumph. Loading times are pretty solid too. A bit long if you are coming from the console version or PC, but I’d never touched either and I felt they were alright.

What I wasn’t expecting is that the resolution held up so well. I’ve been kind of addicted to my Switch (OLED Model) since first getting it, so it’s almost never gone in the dock. My time with Dying Light: Platinum Edition has been portable only, but I think that for my first time with the game this has been a positive experience. I have no point of comparison, just a general bar I set for what I expect from playing games on Switch. At its worst, there’s slight blurriness when you’re running through the city and things get busy. When you’re fighting for your life, this could make a big difference and lead to an unfortunate game over. However, overall the port maintains its resolution well and looks quite good when played on the Switch’s screen.

Included with the Platinum Edition is every piece of DLC previously available. If this is your first time, I’d recommend not touching the easily accessible power weapons if you’d like to have as good of a first experience as possible. The weapon system works best when it’s scrappy, and finding some random weapon to use as a quick way to keep distance between you and the numerous raiders or zombies that try to get in your way. When you’re not doing that, you’re using what resources you scrounge together to craft new weapons or sell them for cash to buy special ones. It makes you feel like growth is earned from both your actions and your skills improving. 

Dying Light: Platinum Edition Review Screenshot 3

As an RPG, I think Dying Light: Platinum Edition is pretty average. That’s not a bad thing, I think the RPG elements are just extensive enough to give the gameplay some depth without being overbearing. You gain skill points in four categories, with three of them you’ll likely spend most of your time grinding up: Survivor, Agility, and Power. They grow with your improving proficiency in different parts of the game, and the system feels pretty natural. The rewards are pretty good, and even though I think skill trees are overplayed this one was inoffensive.

I’m pretty glad I waited for Dying Light: Platinum Edition to come to Nintendo Switch to play it. I’m sure this game is much better elsewhere, there’s no doubt this is the “weakest” version to play. But when the weakest version of a game is still this good? That’s impressive. I came away with far less to say than I expected. This is simply Dying Light on the Switch. The fact that I can say that with no big caveats is a miracle in itself. However, I don’t know if I’d say it’s worth the full price unless Switch is your only option to play it. This game is over half a decade old, and you could easily get it elsewhere for much cheaper. All the extra content certainly sweetens the pot, I’ll admit, but it’s a steep price despite how fun the game is. Techland has been dedicated to patching the game regularly too, so any small issues to such a good package will be sure to be ironed out over time. I’m a bit bummed that the Switch version of the sequel will be streamed, because playing this original game natively was ideal.

Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Techland

Total Score
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