Good Job With The Graffiti, Dying Light

Good Job With The Graffiti, Dying Light

Video games have got a graffiti problem. So much video-game graffiti is dumb, unrealistic, or hamfisted. Considering that I’ve gone out of my way to criticise games that get graffiti wrong, it seemed worth taking the time to high-five a game that gets it right.

Dying Light developer Techland could’ve very easily screwed up the graffiti in their game. I’m almost surprised that they didn’t, that the city of Harran isn’t covered in scrawled, apocalyptic messages: “DOWN WITH THE GRE”, “WE ARE THE ZOMBIES”, “ALL OUT OF HOPE”, that sort of thing.

Instead, Dying Light‘s graffiti is pretty great. That’s largely because follows the most important rule of video game graffiti: It looks like actual graffiti. Most of it seems like it was probably there before the infection hit, which means that rather than embellishing the zombie outbreak itself, the graffiti serves to make Harran feel like it was a real place before it was a zombie wasteland.

I’ve been taking screenshots of graffiti anytime I see it in the game.

As you can see from these screenshots, there’s a fair bit of repetition. Fortunately, the variety is mostly good enough (with a few exceptions) that if I weren’t paying close attention to it, I probably wouldn’t notice the dupes.

In other places, survivors have left messages on walls and buildings, but those messages are almost always functional and believable.

Then there’s this one, which, I don’t know either:

There’s also this, which maybe doesn’t qualify as graffiti, but is still pretty cool:

So: Good job with the graffiti, Dying Light! You get a gold star.


  • The last one is pretty awesome and the boxer and beard man are cool but pretty much all the rest (apart from the “Help” messages) look more like randomly stamped decals designed to “look” like graffiti rather than being proper organic graffiti. In my experience, graffiti tends to be less dense in general unless it’s a particularly popular place that has seen a lot of people come and go. Most of the time, you will see maybe one or two complex tags on their own while the scribble tags tend to be prolific but spread out across a large area or in hard to reach places. Of course, it may just be where I live and American graffiti (hah!) could be a lot more like in Dying Light.

    • We get it both ways where I live. The rail lines are combination of complex designs and tagging clogged up every bloody where (even over the good stuff)

    • One of the designs is shown six times, twice in the same picture.

      Personally, I don’t mind grafitti, as long as it’s something more interesting than a simple scrawled tag. A signature is not “art” and stopping you from scrawling it all over the landscape is not “suppressing free speech”. Something like the larger designs I can live with, and sometimes the murals can be gorgeous.

      Ina a game like this, the verisimilitude is a definite plus.

        • True, but in real grafitti the defacements by other graffiti artists would vary, and there would be at least some minor variation.

          Doesn’t matter. They tried hard. 🙂

    • Depends on the etiquette in the local scene and if it’s being… ‘enforced’.

      I know some folks who were big into that stuff and it definitely varies by region. Even within the same city. A couple were Americans and some crews consider the difficulty of tagging a place to be higher value than the quality of the tag itself. (Difficulty includes relative security, whether it’s someone else’s patch, and degree of exposure/traffic.)

      Also, the increasingly prolific use of stencils really add credence to the idea of a particular tag being repeated. Though the more ‘muralistic’ tags there don’t really look like they were stenciled, which takes away from it a little.

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