Dying Light 2 Stay Human is the sequel to Techland’s first-person adventure and free-running game from 2015, Dying Light. With its satisfying mixture of zombie-slaying combat, RPG-style leveling, and brisk parkour mechanics, the original Dying Light is considered by many as one of the best games in the genre. Despite some significant delays in development, Dying Light 2 Stay Human promises a sequel with a bigger world, a better story, and tons of new ideas. Supporting four-player online co-op, the game encourages you and your friends to dive into its post-apocalyptic universe, but is it worth it? Let’s see if Techland’s big-budget sequel nails the landing or misses the mark entirely!
Long Lost Siblings
Dying Light 2 Stay Human takes place in 2036, almost two decades since the Harran virus was first unleashed on the world in the original Dying Light. While scientists were able to create a vaccine, the insidious Global Relief Effort group continued to research the virus for potential military use. Before long, a more powerful variant of the virus leaked out, quickly reducing the majority of the global population to crazed, zombie-like infected. With humanity reduced to small pockets of survivors scattered around the world, the future is bleak. You play as Aiden, a messenger and survivalist who braves the dangerous apocalyptic wilds, with his journey taking him to Villedor, one of the last cities left standing on Earth. Arriving in search of his long-lost sister Mia, Aiden must cozy up to the Villedor locals in exchange for precious information.
Villedor is split into two major sections, including the cramped residential blocks of Old Villedor and the abandoned, skyscraper-filled streets of Downtown Villedor. As an outsider, Aiden is ill-met by the local group of survivors, with tensions high due to an ongoing faction war. While a small community of survivors tries to rebuild their neighborhood with infected zombies still spilling onto the streets, a paramilitary force known as the Peacekeepers tries to extend their power. Elsewhere, a violent gang of bandits known as the Renegades embraces the madness of the apocalypse. While trying to discover the truth of his missing sister, Aiden is quickly dragged into this territorial battle, forced to make decisions and help where possible.
While a lot of this sounds interesting on a surface level, it’s poorly executed in a lot of ways, resulting in a narrative that’s both bloated and uninteresting. Aiden is a truly unremarkable protagonist, and the story involving his lost sister is constantly sidelined in favor of the ongoing faction fight. While the fight between the Survivors, Peacekeepers, and Renegades shows promise at first, it grows stale quickly, as Aiden is reduced to an errand boy surrounded by untrustworthy snakes. There are moments throughout the story where you’ll be forced to make a decision siding with one faction or the other, but I rarely cared enough to consider things for long. These choices, while seemingly important, don’t make much of a difference in the game’s outcome either. While there are a few standout characters and sub-plots that provide satisfying emotion and entertainment, most of Dying Light 2 Stay Human‘s story is downright dull and monotonous.
A Pilgrim’s Life for Me
The narrative is a weak element in Dying Light 2 Stay Human, but thankfully, the series’ signature gameplay remains just as fun and ever. Much like the first game, a lot of time is spent free-running around the zombie-infected map, engaging in missions and side activities as you beat zombies senseless with crafty melee weapons. As you search through abandoned stores and apartment buildings, pilfering everything possible, you’ll amass new weapons, gear, and crafting resources. You’ll find safehouses that need securing scattered around town, while other buildings like windmills, water towers, and electrical stations can be captured to spread your influence around town.
While you’ll find plenty of shambling zombie foes walking the streets during the day, the more dangerous, mutated variants hide indoors away from the scalding sun. When the sun falls and night begins, Villedor becomes a much more intimidating place. Special infected called Howlers roam the streets, which alert nearby hordes of enemies to your position, starting a frantic chase that can only be ended by returning to a safehouse. However, the risk is often worth the reward, as buildings rich with loot are less populated at night. Additionally, some quests and activities can only be undertaken at night, so while you can skip over the dark hours by sleeping at a safehouse, you’ll need to brave the shadows eventually.
While the day and night cycle was present in the first game, Dying Light 2 takes it a step further, as the darkness now presents a completely unique challenge. As a carrier of the virus himself, Aiden can only stay in the dark for a few minutes at a time, else he will succumb to the madness of the disease. Luckily, you can replenish your immunity timer with craftable consumables or sources of UV light, which are sparse but can always be found at safehouses. The constant impending doom of Aiden’s transformation adds a lot of intensity to sections at night, especially in a handful of missions involving stealth. While the mechanic might sound restrictive and annoying on paper, it works surprisingly well and provides an extra element of strategy when exploring in the dark.
Run Fast and Fight Hard
As you pulverize infected foes and skip your way across Villedor’s rooftops, you’ll naturally earn combat and agility experience points. Taking down more powerful infected variants will grant you higher combat bonuses, while performing strings of parkour moves will similarly boost your agility. You can also earn bonus experience by surviving a full night in the streets, while side activities and story missions always offer a steady flow of improvement. I especially enjoyed the free-running challenges, which test your speed and ability to improvise as you scamper through the crumbling city.
Earning enough experience will increase your overall agility and combat levels, with two respective skill trees to spend your points on. These skill trees contain important abilities that expand your movement and battle expertise, providing game-changing skills like the dropkick, wall-run, and crouch slide. Your health and endurance can also be improved by collecting three inhibitors, which are often found off the beaten path or awarded for completing tough boss fights and missions. Dying Light 2 also does a good job of keeping the mechanics fresh, specifically in regards to traversal, as you’ll unlock awesome new equipment like the paraglider that changes the way you move through the city.
Big-Budget Bugs and Glitches
Dying Light 2 constantly encourages players to play at their own pace and explore the environment, but a variety of technical bugs and gameplay glitches can prevent progress with annoying frequency. During my playthrough, I encountered several issues, ranging from audio issues to quests not completing properly. Occasionally, doors would refuse to open or quest-specific NPCs would not spawn, forcing me to restart the game. The game also has its fair share of standard glitches seen in open-world games, including characters that clip into the environment, odd AI behavior, and more.
While some of these problems only popped up for a single play session, others persisted throughout my entire playthrough. Due to some quest glitches and map errors, it’s likely that I will never be able to achieve 100% completion unless the game is patched or I start over. Overall, this lack of polish severely impacted my enjoyment of the game and the motivation to continue playing after completing the main story.
The Bottom Line on Dying Light 2 Stay Human
To put it rather bluntly, Dying Light 2 Stay Human is a sequel that falls short of its predecessor in many ways. The story is less engaging, some sections of the map feel repetitive, and there are too many glitches to shrug off. However, that doesn’t make it a bad game. The parkour movement feels better than ever, the combat and controls have been improved, and there’s a grander sense of scale. When Dying Light 2 hits its stride, it’s hard to stop playing, providing an engaging cycle of exploration and upgrading.
If you played the first Dying Light and had a great time, you’ll likely have a decent time with Dying Light 2 Stay Human. Alternatively, newcomers can also dive in without needing to play the original, as the sequel’s story is mostly self-contained and does a good job catching players up with story so far. However, you should consider the current state of the game before spending your hard-earned cash on a copy. As it stands, Dying Light 2 is rough around the edges, and it’s likely that you’ll encounter some annoying glitches during your playthrough. Overall, it’s an enjoyable game with some glaring weaknesses, but if you can look past the flaws, you’ll have a good time. Even so, if you haven’t played the original Dying Light or its expansion, Dying Light: The Following, we recommend you check that out before buying the sequel.
- Parkour movement is smooth and satisfying
- Exciting combat and fun fighting abilities
- Great for cooperative gameplay
- The plot is middling and characters are uninteresting
- Bugs and glitches that hamper gameplay
- Repetitive quest design