The Dead Island series is polarizing. Hacking apart zombies in first-person is fun, but the games are blemished with technical bugs. It makes sense, then, that developer Techland might want to create distance between Dead Island and Dying Light – a new IP with a startlingly similar premise coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and current-gen systems. Players team up with up to three friends to explore a tropical setting, hack apart zombies, and craft items. Dying Light innovates on the formula by injecting free running and a day/night cycle, but we couldn’t ignore the elephant in the room during a live presentation of the game. We asked Techland’s brand manager, Blazej Krakowiak what separates the two titles.
Krakowiak reveals Dying Light is being developed by the core team that worked on the original Dead Island. The more criticized follow-up, Dead Island Riptide, was developed by the company’s studio in Warsaw, Poland. I asked Krakowiak to explain how Dying Light relates to the developer’s past zombie games.
“I hope it shows that we are really trying to build something from a different starting point here,” says Krakowiak. “Zombies as a genre are huge, not just in terms of popularity, but also in terms of potential and where you can take them. Our game, the first Dead Island, was a good example because it was so unexpected for people. You have little beautiful games like The Walking Dead and so on, and so on. There’s a lot of room in the [zombie] space so we feel like we can do something unique and interesting. In this case, this game’s development began back in early 2012 with the original Dead Island team, the big core team that we have. After finishing the first game they really wanted to do something even bigger and better. Not by evolving something existing, but starting a new IP with a completely different focus. This is the case: Dying Light is a new, original IP with no relation to Dead Island whatsoever.”
While Krakowiak says there is no direct relation between the titles, the developer is applying lessons learned from Dead Island to this new IP. Krakowiak didn’t go into specifics, but affirms that, “…there isn’t a single game that we’ve released that we haven’t learned from.”
Dying Light’s free-running gameplay is one of the core elements that separate it from Dead Island. Krakowiak believes this contribution also helps separate it from all other zombie games.
“Free running, for us, is a survival mechanism,” says Krakowiak. “This is not something those characters are doing to show off. This is something they have to do, because that’s how humans avoid getting eaten in zombie situations. This is something that we believe Dying Light can really contribute to the zombie genre.”
On the topic of survival, we asked Krakowiak if Dying Light will go as far as open-world zombie games like DayZ by adding hunger and thirst meters.
“I don’t think we’ll go that far,” says Krakowiak. “We are looking at options of maybe including something like that as a completely hardcore offering. With the main game this is definitely not our goal so please don’t take this as a promise. We are of course looking at this trend, but Dying Light will be an action-survival game. This has to be a blast to play. We don’t want to punish people. We don’t want them to spend the day in a hideout just trying to dress their wounds, or something. “
It’s tempting to jump to conclusions regarding the games’ similarities, but this is just Dying Light’s first showing. Techland isn’t spilling all the beans just yet, so we’ll have to hang tight until we get our hands on the game at E3 before drawing more parallels. Dying Light will be arriving on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 by the end of the year.