Actually sitting down and playing a game can often do wonders for how people feel about it. Dying Light is one of those titles.
Showcased at E3 earlier in the year, I came away feeling rather nonplussed about Techland's zombie effort. It looked pretty enough, but saying it was Dead Island HD wouldn't be too much of a stretch. Playing it, though, is a different story altogether.
While comparisons to its former undead effort are fair, Dying Light has the potential to be a genuinely tense, entertaining first-person zombie kill-fest. Although central to the experience is still the hacking away of 'walkers', the sheer pace and constant atmosphere of impending doom means even when the sun is up, there's never a sense of ease. Techland must have intended this, too, as running, climbing, sliding, casting decoys and all manner of zombie-averting tactics are a constant, and necessary, form of day-to-day life.
You have to use them all as well, because ignoring these skills at your disposal will see your face getting eaten off in seconds. What seems like hundreds - maybe even thousands - of enemies are constantly lining the streets, making even a trip to the supermarket a daunting one. With that in mind, Techland has used the idea of the open world to push you off obvious paths and into more obscure areas. It works, because when events kick off - or zombies go mad - you'll never want to be blocked in. If Dying Light's city had been nothing more than a ruse, invisible walls blocking every route, it would've been horribly clumsy and claustrophobic; this way, a desperate escape comes down to how good your observatory powers are.
Admittedly combat still feels a little loose - much like Dead Island, there's not a huge amount of weight to each weapon, although that is made up for by the sheer, ridiculous damage you can do with melee attacks. Lopping someone in half with a battleaxe, for better or worse, is enjoyable. The real issue at this stage are the controls. They're certainly not bad, and become more comfortable with extended play, but moving was incredibly fiddly, almost too sensitive for its own good. Not ideal in any gaming environment, it's even worse when a large portion of your core concept is based on running away from masses of would-be killers.
Given it was a short demo all that was asked revolved around arming traps before sprinting away from the undead at night - where Dying Light ramps up the challenge even further - so Techland will need to craft a good narrative around its foundations so it doesn't fall into mundane task territory, another failing of Dead Island. If it can, however - and given how it looks, in this case, on the Xbox One - it could be far better than I, and maybe you, gave it credit for.