Dying Light is a first-person action adventure where players become one of the few survivors in a world where most of the population has become infected with a virus that turns them into zombie-like beings. As one of four characters, players explore open-world environments modeled after South African urban cityscapes using freerunning movement to evade and ambush zombies.
Players scavenge for supplies and equipment they can craft to make improvised traps and weapons. A day-night cycle ramps up the suspense, as infected become much more dangerous when the sun goes down. They become capable of sprinting after players and climbing to reach high ground. To survive at night, players can tap into their "night sense" to locate the infected and attempt to avoid making contact with them until daybreak.
Dying Light includes a four-player co-op mode as well as a special multiplayer mode where players can become one of the infected and invade other players' worlds for head-to-head action.
Developer Techland originally designed Dying Light as a new Dead Island sequel, but spun the project off into its own IP as a result of its new features like the heavy freerunning elements, character development system, and day-night cycle which affected the zombies. These elements were considered so core to the experience that the studio ultimately cancelled Dying Light's release for the PS3 and Xbox 360 as both platforms were not powerful enough to fully realize the aforementioned features.