Dying Light 2: Stay Human (Review)

Dying Light 2: Stay Human is an action horror action role-playing game released in February 2022 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.

In this sequel to 2015’s Dying Light takes place 22 years after the Harran incident, which saw the death of every one of its citizens. After this outbreak, the GRE (Global Relief Effort) synthesised a vaccine for the virus, putting an end to the zombie pandemic. However, the GRE continued to experiment with the virus in secret and in 2021, a mutated variant escapes the GRE labs and starts a second pandemic that spreads across the entire world. The previously created vaccine and Antizin are ineffective against this new strain, but it can be held in check by the use of ultraviolet light. The game is set in the year 2036, 15 years after the latest pandemic, where civilisation has dwindled to only a few settlements, with the European city of Villedor being the last known city on Earth. In Dying Light 2, you take control of pilgrim (someone who travels between settlements), Aiden Caldwell, as he traverses the city of Villedor trying to find his sister after they were separated during vaccine trials when they were children.

I’ve wanted a sequel for Dying Light since I played the original back in 2015, and the fact that we’re still waiting for Dead Island 2 means that I have to find something else to fill the hole left by its absence. But how is it? Well, I’m here to tell you…

The gameplay is very similar to the original game in that you traverse the city using your parkour and melee weapon skills. There are a number of different infected that you come across throughout the city, including degenerates, biters, virals, howlers, goons, and bolters, each requiring a different strategy to either avoid or take down. The game employs a double skill tree system that allows you to improve either your combat or parkour skills with new moves and abilities. While you play, you also have use of a sense ability that allows you to see usable objects such as doors, chests and bags, and ziplines, as well as ay enemies that may be in your immediate area; this can come in handy when your scavenging through dark zones (buildings infested with infected) or just hopping roofs for gear and crafting ingredients. Similar to the original game, the day is split between night and day; in this sequel, however, it’s not just the increase of infected that can get you at night; the lack of UV light can also cause you issues. Aiden is infected to a level where if he stays out of UV light for an extended period of time, he will turn. As you explore the city, you can make use of UV lights at settlements or bases, as well as crafting or using items that increase your resistance to the virus. This new addition means that you have to think more about what you’re going to do and when and makes you consider what items you take with you when you head out, and really makes the subtitle of Stay Human make sense.

The story is a pretty standard story; the main character wants to find a loved one, there’s nothing new here as far as that goes, but the way that you go about finding your loved one is up to you. There are a number of points within the game when you can choose which path you take; this can be deciding between helping a character or not or as big as assigning a faction to a recently liberated key position. This sort of choice wasn’t present in the first game, which made it a fairly linear story. I’m all for games where you have choices to make that make a real difference to the way the world treats your character, so this was a big plus for me. With some of the characters and locations, I can’t help but be reminded of the Metro series of games (in a good way, of course), especially the fact that the Peacekeepers, or PKs, control the metro stations and lines.

The voice acting isn’t anything special. When you’ve come from games like the Mass Effect series or The Last of Us, Dying Light 2 doesn’t really give you anything that even compares to these games, but it’s not bad per se; it just seems a little flat at times. This doesn’t really detract from the experience you have playing this game, there’s enough going on that you don’t really notice a few lines of poor dialogue. I would say, however, that it is an improvement on the first game.

Combat, oh the combat. What can I say except smashy smashy. Okay, there are long-range weapons in the game too, but the majority of fighting that you’ll be doing, especially at the start of the game, will be using various melee weapons that you beat or slice things to death with. This, of course, is always fun, but the infected in Dying Light 2 seem harder to fight than those in the original; they seem to be able to move faster and are more agile when it comes to climbing objects after you. There are human enemies as well, and these also think and react to what you do, i.e. they dodge your thrown weapons, and if you keep attacking in the same manner, they will just block you, this again makes you think about your plan of attack more than you did in the previous instalment.

There is a lot to explore in the city of Villedor, from normal buildings to dark zones, settlements and gang hideouts. As you parkour your way across rooftops, you can liberate windmills, water towers and power plants that you can assign to different factions within the city; this will affect how the other factions will treat you; they may allow you safe passage or attack you on sight. The parkour is very much the same as it was previously, but with the skill tree, you can improve aspects such as jump distance and climb speed, which can really come in handy when you’re running away from the infected, let me tell you.

Overall, there is a lot to like about Dying Light 2; yes, it has its flaws, but they are few and far between, and what it lacks in things like voice acting, it more than makes up for in gameplay and combat. This is a big game with a lot to do and see, and it’s well worth every hour that you’ll spend slicing limbs of infected and parkouring across rooftops with a devil-may-care attitude; it gets a shiny 9/10 from me and a hearty recommendation to any lovers of the first game or of this genre in general, it builds on everything you’ve seen so far.

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