Dying Light 2 Stay Human - Dying Light 2: Stay Human Review

Dying Light 2 Stay Human - action

The surreal tone of Dying Light 2: Stay Human combines a very serious end-of-days theme with silly characters and mini games that have you smacking zombies off skyscrapers with a cricket bat. It's bizarre but somehow works extremely well. This zombie-smashing action game is a strong post-apocalyptic adventure with top-tier parkour movement, an expansive open world and lots of great characters.

What doesn't work so well is how it combines a near-lethal assortment of bugs with a story centered around a protagonist so uninteresting that he's all but undead on arrival. Before we dive in, it's important to note that I do not recommend jumping into Dying Light 2 on Day 1 if your tolerance for bugs is low.

I was able to play it to completion, but only barely leading up to launch. It is absolutely drowning in a sea of debilitating technical issues, whether it be crashing, all dialogue stopping during cut scenes, all audio being replaced with this terrifying sound, getting locked out of quests, uneven frame rates, and too many others to list here.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human - dying light

Many glitches are temporary annoyances or even amusing wonkiness, but others are more dire. One ign editor playing on PS5 had his entire save file corrupted, leaving him with a never-ending loading screen and locking him out of his save pending an upcoming patch. Those issues are particularly disappointing since Dying Light 2 can be a lot of fun between them.

Sticking largely to the plan laid out by its surprise hit predecessor in 2015, it takes place in an excellent, highly explorable city. The rooftops are home to eccentric survivors who have become masters of parkour scavenging and chopping zombie heads off with assorted sporting equipment. Do you risk looting every corner of a mission area or rush through and complete the main objective to mitigate danger?

Should you take the time to sneak around to avoid conflict, or would it be easier to press the attack and risk getting stabbed to reach a goal faster? Decisions like these layer on top of the action and give you something to think about beyond just splattering the nearest zombies and moving their corpses.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human - dying light 2

The biggest highlight of Dying Light 2 by a mile, though, is its liberating and smooth parkour system, which improves upon the first game's already impressive toolbox. You'll leap from building to building, scale skyscrapers, and even swing around with a grappling hook with intuitive ease. Since the city streets are flooded with the undead by night and not yet dead bandits by day, sticking to rooftops quickly becomes one of the most intricate and high-stakes games of the flora's lava of all time, and it's consistently entertaining even when you're just running from point a to point b.

Combat against humans and zombies alike can also be a lot of fun as you dropkick faces, dodge and parry attacks, and lop off arms, legs, and torsos. There isn't much variety in the human enemies, but there are so many great options for finding inventive ways to kill a whole room of bandits or bloodthirsty brain eaters that it's rarely a tedious undertaking.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human - dying light 2 stay human review

Throwing giant exploding gas tanks at groups of enemies, setting a dozen zombies on fire with a well-placed molotov cocktail, or just walking up to them one at a time and drop kicking them out of a window are just a few ways I rid myself of unwanted undead. It's still a lot of fun even when you quickly become overpowered and lose a lot of the difficulty and fear factor or when you realize the human AI is about as smart as a boot full of mayonnaise.

Pull yourself together, you've got a visitor. And who's that queen of shit England? After chasing down story threads for the 80 hours it took me to beat Dying Light 2, it was deflating that the main plot ended up feeling so weak despite an embarrassment of riches when it comes to great characters.

is a fantastic anti-hero, who you get to hang out with a lot as she broods, drinks, and kills people indiscriminately with a crossbow. Ready let's go then there's the washed up former hero, Frank, the charming ladies' man Hakan, and many more who left me with fun and dramatic moments to remember them by.

The real issue is that Dying Light 2 just kind of has you meander from character to character without any cohesive story materializing. Between them, mostly because of the disappointing character you spend the most time with, Aiden Caldwell, that's you shit damn it. I was actually starting to like you.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human - dying light gameplay

Aiden is what you'd get if you ordered a cardboard cutout of a generic protagonist on Amazon and got the cheap knockoff version instead. The tale of revenge he's on is confusing. It is cliched and borders on nonsensical by the end. Without going into spoilers. The flashbacks to Aiden's mysterious, and tragedy-filled, backstory, sprinkled throughout the campaign, left me wondering when the other shoe would drop, but it never did.

It's especially irritating because there are so many interesting stories and well-written characters throughout the campaign, but for some reason, your own character is one of the dullest people on one of the most humdrum adventures among them. I'm looking for Sophie. Another disappointment is that most of the major decisions I made had little impact on the overall flow of the story, despite Dying Light 2 seemingly going out of its way to focus on your choices, supposedly carrying weight.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human - dying light review

I expected big-time consequences. And yet, by the end of the story, I still found myself working alongside them, even moments after I'd betrayed them for the third consecutive time. Although my actions certainly changed some characters' opinions of me and altered some story quests here and there.

I ultimately still did all the same major story missions regardless of my decisions. The ending felt like an inevitability, with only minor details changing along the way when I went back to see what might have gone differently. Let's talk dying Light 2 also features a drop-in co-op mode where up to four players can explore the city together and take on any activity, from story missions to parkour mini-games to boss fights.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human - ign

It's not only impressive that so much of the campaign can be enjoyed together, but it has just about every feature I could have asked for from a modern co-op game. There's difficulty scaling to account for more people in the action; player specific loot so you don't have to fight with friends over weapon drops; and crucially, all progress xp and story decisions carry across to your save file whether you're the host or a guest.

Dying Light 2: Stay Human is another in a long series of ambitious games whose potential greatness is visible just beneath a grindy layer of bugs. No patch can fix the forgettable main plot or the protagonist. I couldn't pick him out of a police lineup even after 80 hours in his shoes, but dying like two streets managed to tell their own stories.

Dying Light Stay Human reviewed on Xbox Series X by Travis Northup. Also available on Xbox One, PlayStation, and PC.
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