Dying Light 2: Stay Human review: Parkour survival horror breathes new life into zombie games



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  • Console: Xbox One/PS4/Xbox series X and S/PC
  • developer: Techland
  • release date: February 4, 2022
  • Price: £59.99 (Standard edition), £74.99 (Deluxe edition)
  • Rating: 8/10

Story

In dying light 2, you play as a “pilgrim” named Aiden, so-called for their ability and willingness to trek hundreds of thousands between the last few remaining settlements 15 years after a viral outbreak has ravaged the world’s population. His travels take him to the city of Villedor, a fictional settlement located somewhere in central Europe to track down his sister, who has been separated from him since childhood. While trying to enter the city, Aiden becomes infected and must keep the virus in check using immunity boosters and UV exposure in order to preserve his humanity.

While this is Aiden’s driving force to enter the city, Aiden’s personal goals intertwine themselves with the needs of the Villedorians using his unique skill-set to assist different factions, enlist the help of others and balance a fine line in the city’s ruthless power dynamics.

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Aiden will be required to make choices that will affect himself, the city’s denizens and the environment. Each district is controlled by different groups, the authoritarian “Peacekeepers” and the free folk dubbed “Bazaarians” for the makeshift market they occupy as well as a hostile group of bandits known as the “Renegades”.

There is plenty of interaction to be had between the former two occupying forces and balancing this tension plays a key role in the development of Aiden’s quest to track down his family. Fulfilling requests from each group usually amounts to rescuing a group of survivors, finding a rare resource in a long-abandoned facility or clearing out bandits from a fortified location.

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gameplay

In Dying Light 2, the most immediate threat are zombies and like the first game, they become weakened to UV rays. This means they present a lesser threat in the daytime, when it is safer to travel but it also means they congregate in “dark zones”, making some areas impossible to explore until night falls and the zombies spill out into the streets.

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Navigating the city during both times of day is essential for progression and traveling at night presents its own risks. If too many zombies are alerted to your presence, a chase can dream where a large number of undead will doggedly pursue Aiden across rooftops until he can make it to a UV lamp, safe zone or a place to hide.

Making it through the night unscathed also brings its own rewards with bonuses for combat and freerunning experience. Both skills lead to further opportunities for exploration, increasing Aiden’s range of movement and overcoming encounters with both the living and dead.

The focus on mobility does not just apply to traversal as it also plays a significant role in combat, often using an enemy’s momentum against them for counterattacks and evasion. Bandits and other living threats will be smart enough to recognize repeat forms of attacks and adapt their behavior in order to counter it, so it pays to invest in a range of skills and weaponry in order to keep encounters from becoming repetitive.

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One of Dying Light 2’s biggest selling points is its branching narrative paths. While nothing new, they do have a tangible impact on the way the city can be used to your benefit. If Aiden chooses to side with the Bazaarians and allocate resources to them, they set up an elaborate system of devices that can lead to quicker traversal such as jumping pads and ziplines.

However, if Aiden decides to allocate the same resources to the Peacekeepers, they implement technology designed to damage large hoards of infected such as proximity mines.

As the story develops, players will often be required to make a binary choice that can have a long-lasting impact on its characters. These choices are clearly telegraphed when they occur and may have an immediate impact on events while others may make for a more subtle change down the line.

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where Dying Light 2 falters is when it brings its momentum to a grinding halt, through environmental puzzles. Finding the path of least resistance between A and B is satisfying in its own right, without having to worry about making frequent pauses. But after struggling to ascend a nearby windmill or radio tower to activate a beacon a dozen-or-so times, the experience of climbing a yellow ledge, turning around and looking for the next yellow ledge wears itself thin.

Performance

dying light 2, also has its fair share of technical issues. Some are completely harmless such as rag-dolling enemies. On a few occasions, Aiden would grab onto a ledge before clipping through the terrain and falling to their death, by no means a game-breaker but certainly frustrating when you are required to respawn at the last checkpoint.

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In one instance near the end of a climactic boss fight, the assailant in question fell through a platform and became stuck in a pipe as he continued to berate Aiden. It would have been funny, if the game didn’t require a death-state in order to reset the whole fight from the beginning.

The verdict: Dying Light 2: Stay Human

Dying Light 2 is at its best when it has the freedom to explore its environments. Running through, around and over the city’s inhabitants is the kind of gameplay that would bring players back to visit after the first roll of the credits but when that freedom of movement is taken away is when those cracks start to show. While only occasionally mired by technical issues and stopgaps, Dying Light 2 makes confident attempts to breathe life into a tired genre.


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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