The ruined-world game hinges on a realistic day/night cycle, as well as the agility and Parkour skills of the protagonist turned traceur. Day is pitched as a preparation phase, in which you scavenge a warmly lit urban wasteland for supplies and craft weapons to fend off undead walkers. The night requires a stealthier approach, if not a swift homeward retreat from deadlier monsters.
Combat in Dying Light appears to be largely based on upgradeable melee weaponry (eg. an electrified machete), with bone-breaking blows triggering an x-ray visual effect. Zombies can also be pushed into spiked walls with a jump-kick to the chest.
The frequency of fighting drops once night arrives and faster, more powerful creatures emerge. These can be detected via an on-screen pulse – one of the abilities you have by virtue of being an infected human yourself. When the monsters of the night do give chase, the camera can quickly flip 180 degrees to show their proximity, even while you dash and vault in the opposite direction. Movement certainly appears to be more fluid than in Techland's Dead Island, with which Dying Light shares a theme of smashing zombies in the tropical sun.
The openness of the environment, overall game structure and the true nature of nightfall, the publisher says, are details left for another day.