In 2015, the original Dying Light was released to a rather mixed reception. In recent years the game has become something of a beloved cult classic, a zombie parkour game that has amassed quite the fanbase, and in a twist, the world could have seen coming a mile off in 2018 Techland announced a sequel. While the game was delayed repeatedly, and concerns were put forth that the game might not even release, existing in the same state as Duke Nukem Forever, Dying Light 2 Stay Human has defied all those naysayers and is finally here. But is it any good, or is it undead on arrival?
Game Name: Dying Light 2 Stay Human Platform(s): (PS5) Reviewed, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC Publisher(s): Techland
Release Date: February 4, 2022
The first thing out of the gate, forget that Twitter post from Techland about the length of the game. This isn’t going to take you 500 hours. In fact, it’s not even close to that, so put those concerns behind you. In reality, depending on how many times you die or side quests you tackle, it will take you closer to 24 to 25 hours. At least, that’s how long it took me, with a mixture of the main story plus some side quests.
While the game certainly rewards replayability, I also can’t see a real reason to go back to it beyond the alternative endings. Perhaps, if you’re particularly interested in where a story would have diverged if you had merely chosen a different option. Otherwise, you’re absolutely never going to spend hundreds of hours. To be clear, this is an extremely good thing. From my experience playing through the entirety of Dying Light 2 Stay Human, the game would become extremely tedious and samey if you played it for that length of time. Story-wise, Dying Light 2 is generic with the exception of the choices you make. It’s just another survival story in a world with zombies, yet akin to the Mass Effect series of games; it branches depending on your decisions. Choose not to help a specific faction, and you could lose out on an entire line of side quests. Choose to help a faction, and you risk the ire of the world as a whole.
What holds Dying Light 2 Stay Human together is the well-written characters. They’re not just one-note and are rather multi-faceted, you’ll be meeting characters along the way that are the generic affirmations of bad and good, yet you know that they’re just trying to survive in this messed-up world. Even what you’d assume to be the obvious bad guys of the story, the Peacekeepers, are much deeper than they seem at the surface, providing a much-needed sense of depth to what would otherwise be very one-note.
If the story of Dying Light 2 Stay Human is weak, then the gameplay is the polar opposite. Truly, Techland has perfected a system they already had a pretty good handle on from Dying Light, creating one of the best parkour systems I’ve played in a video game. Along the way, you’ll unlock additional abilities that’ll make traversing this world truly one of the most fun things in an open-world, flying through the streets like a god. The combat is also good, if not slightly disappointing. It feels great to modify your weapons and create something that makes you feel almost unstoppable in certain respects, yet sometimes it can feel like your hits lack a certain weight to them. It’s not constant, but it feels like you’re hitting them with a rubber bat rather than a massive sword, for example.
I would be remiss not to mention how terrifying the nights are in Dying Light 2 Stay Human. Once night hits, you’ll have to stick to the rooftops lest you risk the furor of the undead below. If a Howler spots you, you’ll trigger a chase of super-fast zombies that can jump and run just like you can. Creating an intense and terrifying situation in which you don’t have time to look behind you to see what is coming, yet you also cannot stop moving, or you’ll die in an instant. It’s scarier than most horror games, thanks to the first-person perspective and the fact you truly cannot see what is coming next.
The PlayStation 5 version of Dying Light 2 Stay Human ran exceptionally well with no framerate dips and consistent visuals. While I did suffer pop-in occasionally, it was nothing too distracting. Sadly though, the DualSense controller is barely integrated into the game beyond the now-expected trigger resistance when you’re entering into combat.
Perhaps it’s just a sign of the first years of a console, but when you’re given unique chances to use technology like this, it’s always disappointing when you don’t seize them. Looping dialogue was also a noticeable issue, with random NPCs repeating lines over and over again regardless of any context, and the dynamic soundtrack occasionally appeared to be rather confused, playing tracks that didn’t suit the situation at all.
It’s a shame then, that Dying Light 2 Stay Human is rather buggy. In my time with the game, I experienced two game-breaking bugs that were quickly patched, but I can only assume that there’s more that I didn’t come across. It’s not fun to run across an open-world with only intermittent audio, with even dialogue not loading in at all. In addition, there’s a whole host of collision issues and issues with textures that need fixing in future patches, plus a whole host of pop-in issues and other smaller issues on consoles. Now, that’s not to say these bugs won’t be fixed by the time Dying Light 2 is released, but it’s a cause for concern.
Yet despite the flawed nature of the game, I really enjoyed my time with Dying Light 2 Stay Human. It was an extremely fun time, with an amazing parkour system that introduces mechanics at a rate that’s not too overwhelming. It’s a shame that the story isn’t all too strong. Instead, it is rather generic in most places with some uninspiring narrative choices. Thankfully, the branching decision tree will keep players coming back and seeing how making different choices will ultimately affect the game’s outcome. It doesn’t hurt that the game also includes loads of fleshed-out characters, fantastic world-building, and exploration of humanity at its darkest hour.
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Techland has a hit on its hands with Dying Light 2! While the game has been a long time coming, it is a fun, enjoyable game that features well-written characters and great world-building, along with some amazing parkour. However, the combat can be repetitive, voice lines constantly repeat and there’s a few concerns regarding the bugs I encountered. Other than that, Dying Light 2 is solid.
Performance was great on the PS5
Loved the characters and world-building
The parkour experience is fantastic
Encountered several bugs that caused a few concerns