Dying Light 2: Stay Human Review
When we do our Dying Light 2: Stay Human review, it makes a strong first impression and if Techland can maintain the support like they did for its predecessor, it could be an all-time classic. First-person, open-world zombie action games are the element of Techland; have already done several. With each attempt, the Polish developer became more adept at realizing the dream.
dead island was something of a guilty pleasure when it came out in 2011. It was rough around the edges, but back then it mostly delivered on its promise of a first-person action RPG set in an apocalypse tropical zombies. Techland shipped a few expansions that added a change of scenery and a new playable character, but most fans just wanted to take advantage of the game’s online co-op mode.
When the original dying light released in 2015, it impressed gamers with the vast and dense city of Harran inspired by Turkey. Techland was able to fine-tune its open-world zombie RPG for a very stable experience, but with parkour traversal to add unparalleled density in level design. After What follows expansion, how could Techland surpass it? Find out in our Dying Light 2: Stay Human review!
Dying Light 2: Stay Human
Publisher: Tech Land
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch (via cloud), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (revised)
Release date: February 4, 2022
Players: 1-4 (online co-op)
Aiden’s quest to find his sister takes place 15 years after the events of Harran. He’s a new protagonist to replace Crane and he has a mysterious story that involves human experimentation and an evil scientist named Waltz, which would fit perfectly into the resident Evil franchise.
Viledor is less of a dumping ground than the rickety third-world tin towns of Harran. Not that anyone can tell for 15 years of a rampaging zombie outbreak; the whole world and humanity as a whole are barely making it. As if a terrible infection weren’t enough; there are heaps of highly deadly toxic waste flowing like rivers preventing anyone from escaping their fate.
Since the galavants of Crane in Harran, most cities in the world have fallen. Aiden makes a living as a “pilgrim”, a sort of wanderer and will take any odd job and move from settlement to settlement…or what’s left of them. There are factions vying for territory and it will be up to Aiden to decide who takes control of which parts of the city.
Dying Light 2: Stay Human does not facilitate the choice. There are story reasons why a player might choose one side over another, along with gameplay reasons too. The blue helmets act like brutal fascists; they try to do good, but are also capable of excessive force. In Viledor, they are absolutely necessary as they tend to do more good than harm.
Survivors are usually free people who are just trying to get by…even if it’s through immoral or criminal means. Their settlements are usually populated by ok people, but there are always thugs, tricksters, and murderers among them too. Dying Light 2: Stay Human does not play favorites with either faction. Morality in the world is a huge shade of gray.
Why would Aiden let any of these factions take control of any territory? Depending on who controls the area, this will significantly change how the player can deal with the zombie threat in the area. Peacekeepers tend to be very offensive; therefore, traps or car bombs will become available in their controlled region. Survivors rely more on parkour; therefore, they set up zip lines and other equipment to help with free running.
The player’s impact on Viledor is part of the role-playing and character-building experience. Not only do players elaborate on Aiden’s playstyle in his stats; but the environment as a whole also gets a “character build”. This comes with a certain commitment and there are critical choices that alter the events that unfold and make Dying Light 2: Stay Human feel responsive.
Like its predecessor, parkour or “free-running” is a major pillar of the Dying Light 2 experience. Aiden’s movement feels much smoother and snappier than Crane ever has. It’s obvious that Techland’s technology has come a long way for first-person whole-body awareness; the controls are incredibly smooth and satisfying.
After progressing a bit and setting the specs in stamina, Aiden will be able to do many of the tricks that Crane could do and more. Using zombies as footrests, wall running and jumping on perpendicular surfaces and sliding can be chained together effortlessly. The sense of movement and speed is very palpable; it’s like Aiden can do anything.
New tricks that weren’t possible in Harran are things like swinging on ropes like Tarzan and swinging on horizontal poles. The headliner is easily a handheld paraglider – which not only cuts down on zombie counts, but has its own quirks and upgrade levels. Techland has gotten extremely creative with their level design and how all of their elements are linked.
Being good at parkour is going to be crucial; especially in the early hours of the game as the day and night cycle is back and with a new twist. Everyone in Viledor is infected, Aiden included, and the only way to keep the infection from completely ravaging the host’s body is to stay in UV light or daylight.
Running at night means not only avoiding being eaten, but also moving fairly quickly to the nearest UV lamp/shelter or crafting a UV torch from scraps. It’s thrilling and as tense as Sonic running out of oxygen as he spelunks through the Labyrinth Zone and induces just as much exquisite anxiety.
Nighttime also means much more powerful types of zombies start roaming the streets and leaving their dungeons. The Volatiles are still the alpha zombie and will violently melt Aiden with their anger. As if they weren’t enough Dying Light 2: Stay Human introduces new types of zombies to keep players on the lookout when on the lookout for their next objective.
There are now huge, huge, muscular mutant zombies that have an elephantine club fist and also an armored zombie with rock-like skin that also comically charges at its prey like a bull from Looney Tunes. Ranged spitting zombies add variety for some long range shootouts with a bow and arrow and howlers call in a horde to begin pursuing.
Running and leaping like a gazelle is still a viable and exciting method of staying alive; but sooner or later, Aiden will have to fight. fight in Dying Light 2: Stay Human is improved over the previous entry, due to the increased fluidity and wider range of actions and options available to the player.
Beating a pack of hungry runners or a gang of thugs with a flaming hammer or smashing their skulls into a mound of raspberry jam is as satisfying as it gets. It could get tedious, but luckily Dying Light 2: Stay Human has more to offer. Aiden can perform parries, drop-kicks and can perform Resident Evil 4-style pop-up attacks on stunned opponents.
The bloody violence is very meaty and juicy with the accompanying gore effects and nauseating sound. Players will feel the hits as enemies are dismembered or decapitated and the satisfying slow-mo effect kicks in; blood flying like sparkling rubies.
The only downside with so much to see and do in Viledor is that it’s incredibly easy to get distracted. The absurd amount of endless side stories, points of interest, and radiant quests will clog up the mission log and splatter the map with hundreds of nodes and markers. It’s a problem that tends to be one of the least enjoyable aspects of open-world games; all quests feel like work after a while.
The other issue that tends to plague open world games like this are glitches. During our Dying Light 2: Stay Human review process, there were several instances of sound bugs or dialogue skipping out on their own. Other times there were characters that would violently twitch into geometry or start clipping into each other.
Rest assured, Techland will likely fix most of these technical issues. It’s unclear if they can get them all at launch, but the base game is still surprisingly strong – much stronger than most open-world games tend to be. When Dying Light 2: Stay Human runs smoothly, looks and plays amazing.
While it certainly looks more like a PlayStation 4 game than anything made for ninth-gen consoles; the extra headroom allowed Techland to aim for a solid 60 fps with a very long draw distance. The quality of the lighting is particularly noticeable and Aiden himself also casts a very convincing shadow in free running; adding an extra layer of authenticity.
Dying Light 2: Stay Human sure to satisfy fans of dying light and dead island. The story is mostly a backdrop for the player to have an excuse for adventure and nothing special. The voice acting is surprisingly good for a narrative that is basically madmax meets resident Evil. The only poor performances are from the females who are hopelessly unconvincing to look like male children.
Viledor is a huge, fresh setting that feels as much like a character as it does the protagonist or villains. It’s full of personality due to the way the different factions have tried to tailor their regions to their needs and it has an urban flavor unique to Eastern Europe. Covered in graffiti, shabby structures and skeletal skyscrapers; Viledor has more to offer than Harran ever could.
While Dying Light 2: Stay Human does more than deliver on its promises, it also falls into the same pitfalls found in all open-world games. It can be exhausting to do everything the game throws at it, but anyone who can let go of that urge and focus on the task at hand will see Dying Light 2 shine at its best.
Dying Light 2: Stay Human was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a copy provided by Techland. You can find additional information on Niche Gamer’s Review/Ethics Policy here. Dying Light 2: Stay Human is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.