Dying Light is a first-person action game that mixes weapons, zombies and parkour into a delicious concoction that is surprisingly refreshing for a subject matter (zombie apocalypse) that feels so stale.

Techland wanted to create a game that was not just about fighting the undead. In Dying Light, it’s obviously not just all about smashing in skulls and mowing down zombies, it’s about knowing when to flee. From what I saw and what I played, my favorite part was how I immediately started training my brain to distinguish situations when I could stand and fight and when it was time to run for my life.

Yes, there are zombies in this post-apocalyptic world. But there are zombies, and there are volatiles. Volatiles are zombies who mutate at sundown into super beefed-up nasty undead that are stronger and faster than anything you saw during the day. At night, the dynamic of the game completely changes from fight or flight to run like hell. Even with your special Pulse ability to sense volatiles, you still feel completely underpowered with stealth and cunning as your only allies. Thing is, even if you get a head start when they do see you, you still need to make timely jumps and utilize items to distract and deter the volatiles. Just as during the day is deciding whether to fight the zombies or move on, as night falls, you must weigh the risk of completing your mission or facing the volatiles. Sounds like an excellent proposition to me.

During the demonstration, there were a lot of neat little aspects the Techland guys showed. The environments are beautifully next-gen, with a lot of care put into distinguishing between the nature taking back over and the desolation of a crumbling civilization. They also showed a dynamic side mission system where you have the opportunity to stop and help people in trouble or simply keep walking by. The Techland folks didn’t go into the repercussions of those decisions, but I’m hopeful it will all have an impact. There is also a crafting system they did not show.

Dying Light was breath of fresh air in world of full of zombie clones. The game’s use of action and suspense mixed with strategic decision making make this one of my most anticipated games coming out of E3. I really look forward to see how Techland continues to evolve Dying Light in the months to come. Dying Light will be released in 2014 on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360.

Dying Light Official Trailer