Today, I’d like to talk a little about the game Dying Light, and some concerns I have with it.
First, however, I’d like to get a few things out of the way. One thing I’d like to make clear is that I really like this game. It reminds me, in a way, of the game Prototype, in that both games are great if you just want to run around at random. It’s also fun to make weapons out of scavenged scrap, running around and fighting zombies. Somehow, throwing a machete into the cranium of a rotting, walking corpse never seems to get old…
The other thing I will make clear is that there will be plenty of spoilers, so if you haven’t played this game and don’t want stuff spoiled for you, you shouldn’t keep reading.
With these things done with, let the ranting begin.
My issue with this game concerns the DLC, “The Following”.
The plot of the DLC has protagonist Kyle Crane find a secret way out of the quarantined city of Harran, in search of a group of people who are said to be immune to the infection that is turning people into zombies.
The reason for this journey is that the research for a cure against the zombie infection, which Dr. Camden is working on, is seemingly yielding no results, and the people within the quarantine are rapidly running low on suppressant drugs.
Now, before we get to my main issue, can I just get a few things clear?
Harran is under quarantine. The entire city is in lockdown and nobody gets in or out. The only way out, as you discover, is deep within an old, disused sewer passage, which connects to an old cave system that finally leads out to the countryside. And finding this place required a map, which was taken from a delirious smuggler.
In other words, not many knew about this passage.
So why the flying hell is the countryside shock full of zombies!?
The fucking place is crawling with them! They’re all over the roads and fields and woods and bridges and beaches and god knows what else!
I mean, it makes sense that Harran is full of zombies, since it’s a city. This is farmlands, with just a small town to the south, which is far from big enough to support even half the amount of ex-humans running around.
So how the fuck did they get there? The point of a quarantine is that nobody is getting in or out! If more people are getting into this area, then the quarantine has been breached, and we’re looking at a fucking pandemic!
Now, on a side note, one would think that this being the countryside, we’d see more than just zombies and bandits running around, and actually find zombified animals. But no, the area seems devoid of animal life.
Now, this is perhaps because designing and animating various animals is very costly and complicated. It’s also possible that it’s to maintain the ambiguity of the location, since Harran is obviously a fictional place, and could, from the looks of it, take place anywhere from Spain to Turkey.
So adding regional animals might be more trouble than it’s worth.
Not to mention that it’s possible that the infection doesn’t turn animals, and just kills them instead.
And of course, either way, I can’t say it’s a big loss. I’ve got enough trouble avoiding zombie mutants and freaks with machine guns and machetes. I do NOT need to worry about zombie gerbils gnawing my feet off or rabid, rotting mountain lions tearing my stomach open.
So, what is my big issue with the DLC, then? Well, It concerns the ending of the DLC’s story.
As you play through the story, you find that the immunity to the virus is connected to the cult known as “The Children of the Sun”, and especially with their leader, known as “The Mother”. At the end of the DLC, it is revealed that The Mother, who’s husband was a colonel who died during the outbreak, had discovered what she believed to be a cure for the virus, inside a military installation. However, it turns out that if you find a cache of strange, non-labeled vials of serum in a locked crate requiring high level clearance, it is a VERY bad idea to down it like it’s a jägerbomb. Go figure…
Whether the serum reacted with the infection in her body or it was just inherently asshole science á la The Umbrella Corporation, it mutated her into a sentient volatile. While exposed to light, she would retain her faculties, and even be able to communicate telepathically to others who were exposed to the serum. However, once the light turned off, she’d devolve into a crazed, murderous monster.
Horrified at what she’d become, and having just murdered her companions under the aforementioned murderous frenzy, she resolved to make amends and “Become the Mother they deserved”, using the vaporized serum to grant temporary immunity to the members of the cult.
And after all this is revealed, you are given a choice. Fulfill your part of the Prophecy of the Sun, and cleanse the infection, or reject her offer in order to procure the serum for Dr. Camden.
Now, option A seems like the more sensible and kind option, right? Cleanse the infection is, after all, your end goal anyway, so everyone wins!
There’s only one problem. Her idea of “cleansing the infection” is to detonate a nuclear bomb, which will wipe out the countryside and probably Harran as well.
So, clearly then, option B is the better choice. So you reject her offer, since surely there is some suppressant within the serum that could perhaps be isolated and synthesized.
Her reaction? Sticking the vial down your throat and forcing you to drink it, to see things “through her eyes”.
And she then decides to fight you to the death. Her reasoning being that even breathing the serum will eventually result in more sentient volatiles, who will rip their own families apart once the sun sets. So she has to kill you to keep the serum from reaching anyone else.
Now, I have so many questions that I’m not sure where to start…
OK, so she doesn’t want more sentient volatiles, since they are a threat to everyone once the sun sets and they lose their minds. This, of course, is nothing like the regular volatiles who only come out at night, when the sun can’t burn them…
Oh wait. They’re exactly the same degree of threat.
And even if they weren’t, she doesn’t want you to leave with the serum, because it might create more sentient volatiles… so she crams the serum down your neck, to turn you into a sentient volatile… the thing she doesn’t want more of… And if that wasn’t bad enough, she then decides to fight you to the death.
AFTER she gave you the serum that makes you an equal match for her.
And then, let’s go one step further. In order to protect her children from the infection, she uses the vapours made from the serum to make them immune…
The same serum that she made clear still turns you into a sentient volatile if you breathe it instead of drinking it, just with a slower process.
Granted, it’s worth mentioning that we never see or hear of any other sentient volatiles, despite a lot of cult members breathing in the vapours over a long time, so what she bases that on, I’ve no idea.
But if she’s right, that means that to protect her followers from the infection, she exposed them to a substance that slowly infects them and turns them into the same kind of monster she is now trying to kill you to keep you from creating more of.
HOW THE FUCK DOES THAT MAKE SENSE!?
You don’t want more senseless killing, so your plan is to expose people to a serum that turns them into monsters that kill people senselessly, until you can find a way to access the codes so you can nuke the entire region, killing everyone.
There’s being a religious fanatic, there’s being a genocidal maniac and then there’s being a complete fucking moron
Setting off a nuke because you don’t want people to die needlessly is absolutely idiotic! Especially if she’s wrong about the effects of breathing the vapours, since that means she fucks you over for having a good idea, in favour of her own plan that, like I said, is both counterproductive and idiotic!
Then again, I’m sure the people who survive will be thrilled! Sure, they are slowly dying of third degree burns and shitting out their entrails thanks to radioactive fallout, and you’ve made the entire region pretty much uninhabitable for about 20.000 years.
But thank fuck, now they don’t have to sleep uneasy in their pretty comfortable beds, with their books and games and music and their protective fences and UV lights keeping the volatiles away, eating candy bars and fruits and vegetables and food from disaster relief drops, waiting for Dr. Camden to find the cure for the zombie apocalypse…
Thanks a lot, Mother of the Sun. Truly, your plan was foolproof. What ever would we do without you…
And this brings us to the main issue I have with this ending.
It makes the entire story of the game fucking pointless!
Think about it. You’re here in the countryside, trying to find a cure for the zombie infection. You know, that thing you spent the entire end of the game trying to secure from Rais? The thing you used as leverage to make sure the GRE didn’t try to pull some bullshit like WIPING OUT HARRAN?
Turns out, that research was a dead end. All the people who died as a result of trying to reclaim it? Their deaths were in vain. Everything you fought and killed for was utterly meaningless.
And the choice you’re given is also meaningless! Both choices result in a crap ending! Even if you chose not to blow up everyone and manage to defeat the Mother, you’re still fucked, since now you’ve turned into a sentient volatile yourself, and arrive in front of a mother and her two children, just as the sun sets.
I know zombie stories aren’t the happiest, but come on! This is just a slap in the face, it’s so bleak!
And the most annoying thing of all is that it’s all so pointless! Throughout the DLC, you get messages from Harran, telling you that the antizin is running low and that people have begun to turn.
Because hey, even though the GRE, corrupt as it may be, has a vested interest in the progress of that cure and by extension the well-being of everyone in the city, that doesn’t mean they will do something sensible like, you know… SEND THE MEDICINE SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO KEEP PEOPLE FROM TURNING INTO ZOMBIES!
Not a single air drop containing a single vial of antizin? All those air drops full of food and water and other disaster relief supplies, is missing the drug that is designed for this, exact purpose? That’s pure, unadulterated bullshit, right there.
So that’s my issue with this game. The DLC just ends up making you feel like nothing you did mattered.
They could have removed the choice at the end, and just have you fight the Mother for the serum, without her sticking it down your neck, since that is twenty flavours of stupid. The serum could then be the final piece of the puzzle to make the cure. That would have been triumphant and uplifting, you could have a nice boss fight and bring the story to a satisfying ending.
That would have been perfectly serviceable! And guess what! If you do that, it actually makes sense that the game keeps going after the final mission! As it is, you effectively die either way, and yet you keep playing like a normal human after the credits!
But hey, what does internal continuity matter, in the grand scheme of things?
Oh right, it means the DLC makes sense and doesn’t piss people off…