Boy, seven years sure have gone by quickly. That’s how long the wait has been since the first Dying Light was released, back in 2015, and I’m sure the question on everyone’s mind is whether or not the sequel lives up to the hype. I’ll cut to the chase: Dying Light 2 Stay Human is more of what you want from Dying Light with a few extra bells and whistles. Is it some grand, groundbreaking experience? Not even close, but it’s some damn good fun.
Dying Light 2 Stay Human
Platform: PC, PS5, Switch, Xbox Series X
MonsterVine was supplied with a PC code for review
Taking place twenty years after the first game, Dying Light 2 puts you in the shoes of Aiden, a new entry in the city looking for his missing sister and to find the man who experimented on them as kids. The outbreak in Harran spread and the world has basically become crippled because of the infection, save for a few scattered settlements. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that the plot in the first game was akin to background television; something you half paid attention to while you did the actual fun stuff (killing zombies). Thankfully Dying Light 2 steps it up a bit. It does take a bit to really get interesting, but once it gets there the characters are fun to interact with and you genuinely want to know what comes next in the mystery.
Dying Light was an absolute blast to play through, and Dying Light 2 keeps that same energy but adds to it. The parkour feels just as good, and the city feels so much more traversable than Harran, with ways to help you move across the city all over the place. From swinging off bars to cutting across the street to finding a bounce pad that launches you high into the air, you’re always moving and it’s great. New to the game is the paraglider that helps you cut across wide swathes of the city. It’s that same feeling you got when you acquired the grappling hook in the first game, an almost freeing sense as you start changing how you view how you move around the city. The combat itself is still the same as before, visceral and quick as you duck and weave between foes while lopping limbs off. Mixing in raw combat maneuvers like heavy slams, with parkour abilities like jumping off a stunned enemy to dropkick their friend off a building is a sense of glee that never tires.
If you’re familiar with the previous game, you’ll remember the day and night system where the zombies get faster at night and flood the streets with stronger variants. It’s back again of course and triggering a chase is still just as terrifying as it was before, as you dart in pitch darkness while a horde is hot on your heels and zombies and crawling out of every vent in the area. No other game has really managed to capture the pure adrenaline rush of a chase quite like Dying Light; seven years later and it’s still just as thrilling.
The game being an RPG, you’ll level up your combat and parkour skills simply by performing them and can use the points you get to unlock new abilities on the corresponding skill tree. Like its predecessor, expect to do a lot of looting as you scrounge around for better weapons or gear. Outfitting your weapons with various mods helps keep things fresh as you tinker with interesting combinations. Like the first game, however, I feel like you level just a tad too slow for my tastes. Properly paced power scaling is important in an RPG, and Dying Light 2 still feels like it takes a bit longer than you’d like to get to where it feels you should be. That’s just a nitpick, however, as the game remains as fun as ever to play through.
Co-op is back, with you being able to goof around the city with up to four players. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test it out, but it is worth noting that anyone who decides to play this game in co-op with friends knows that only the host gets to keep story progress completion. Anyone who joins their game will only get to bring their player progression and items back to their own game. It’s not a big deal for those friends looking to play through the entire campaign together, but for the rest keep that in mind so you’re not surprised.
Exploring the city will allow you to discover a variety of activities to do. Climbing up to a high point will give you a good view of the city, and pulling out your binoculars will let you find and tag all the things you can do which helps tremendously. There are simple activities like military convoys to discover and loot, or races to do, along with side-quests that let you get to know the people of the city. At night, you’ll be able to explore hospitals or “dark zone” areas that offer rare loot along with the syringes needed to upgrade your health and stamina. There’s always something to do, no matter the time of day.
New to the game is a faction system where varying groups will control parts of the city. Taking control of important facilities, like the water station, will allow you to give control to whoever you want and reap their benefits. I’m always a sucker for territory control mechanics in games, I just wish Dying Light 2 made it so the choice was harder than it is. For example, you have the Peacekeepers and Survivors. The more territory you give the Peacekeepers, the more combat upgrades they’ll supply you like new weapons or traps like car bombs scattered throughout the city. Handing chunks of the city to the Survivors however will reward you with parkour rewards like bounce pads or ziplines. If you asked me what the defining trait of Dying Light was, I’d say its parkour system in an instant, so you can see why the choice here is a no-brainer. I immediately went all-in on the Survivors, despite slightly liking the Peacekeeper characters more, because the other faction allowed me to do more of what I like to do in this game but better. Narratively it makes sense why each faction offers what they do, but it kind of railroads you into the side that compliments your playstyle and turns what should be meaningful decisions into a mindless one.
The “Stay Human” subtitle in the game’s title isn’t just there for show. Early on in the game Aiden is infected by a zombie and unlike the first game where your infection only came into play during plot beats, Dying Light 2 brings it to the forefront. The gist of it is, anytime you’re in darkness a timer appears representing your “immunity” and it ticks down until you turn into a zombie. To prevent this, you simply have to step into the sun, or if it’s night, UV light. It’s an interesting idea, I’m just not a fan of it and it was actively hampering my experience at the early parts of the game. Most of the time at night, I’d be more focused on the immunity timer than on the zombies themselves, and managing your immunity feels like a complete chore when you go into the longer nighttime activities.
While your timer starts out almost criminally low, it’ll bump up 15 seconds every time you upgrade your health or stamina. It honestly doesn’t feel like enough, either you should have started with more time at the start, or get a bigger bump with each upgrade. The way it’s set up, it almost pushes you into sidelining every other activity to focus on finding syringes just so that you have a tolerable amount of immunity for those longer nighttime activities.
I think my main gripe with the mechanic is that it all just feels like an artificial way of getting you to make a mistake at night and trigger a chase or something. Playing at night already comes with its own risk/reward system. You can either go in and out quickly, minimizing your time at night, or you can stay longer and run the risk of something happening to you and losing your bonus. Having to scramble to a UV light, or constantly huffing immunity inhalers just distracts you from the actual fun parts of playing the game. It’s similar to the zombrex in Dead Rising 2, where it just comes off as a mechanic meant to annoy the player by placing a timer on top of a timer, instead of enhancing their experience.
The Final Word
Dying Light 2 might be more of the same, but that doesn’t stop it from being heaps of fun.
– MonsterVine Rating: 4 out of 5 – Good
- the world