Game Reviews

It Has Potential … | “Dying Light 2: Stay Human” (2022) Game Review

Dying Light 2: Stay Human released recently. This was Techland’s follow up to the classic Dying Light which released back in 2015. At the time of this article, it has gone quite well for the company economically, selling nearly six times as many copies as the first game had sold at this point of its life cycle. Per Steam, Dying Light 2’s player peak has exceeded the all time high player peak of Dying Light already.

So, how has it gone? Let’s talk pros and cons, beginning with the former.

The parkour is stunning

Parkour has been an emphasis in both Dying Light games. It was pretty strong in the first, but the mechanics and general movement are even more refined in this one. Techland definitely built the world of Villedor and The City around parkour, providing endless areas to perform flashy jumps across buildings, seamlessly traverse ground level amongst a large amount of zombies and move in and out of close quarter buildings with pristine smoothness. Playing this game for its theatrics alone in that regard is worth it.

Combat mechanics are done well

Blocks, perfect blocks, smash attacks and basic swings are simple but well executed for this game’s hand-to-hand combat. With there being no guns to speak of, combat is just about always done with melee weapons, of which there are a near endless amount of. There isn’t any PvP yet, but with current combat mechanics, prospective PvP will be simple and easy to get into, but will likely be quite thrilling. It feels somewhat like a Dark Souls game from the first person perspective in that regard.

Graphics are beautiful

Take refuge in a safe zone windmill, stand atop the structure itself and take a gander at the beauty which is Villedor. Especially as dawn comes and the sun begins to set, the intricacy of the layout is done well. The shifting from day to night which brings forth a mass amount of infected is done well by the ominous atmosphere, which is supplemented by the environment around it. If the player fails to or refuses to make it to a safe zone before then, they’ll have to be quiet and careful utilizing hiding areas and maintaining the high ground. The graphical quality and aforementioned parkour make these treks more tense than they would otherwise be.

Progression is really strong

One very minor nitpick one could have of Dying Light is that progression seemed to come in dramatic bursts; the player would go from having two basic medkits and a table leg for combat into having an endless supply of Military medkits and weapons as far as the eye could see which dealt millions of damage and killed everything in one hit, and they could make this transition somewhat easily.

Here, much like in its predecessor, the player gains experience points for a multitude of things, such as completing parkour actions, killing zombies and completing quests. However, the world around them only really grows at the player’s pace, rather than the other way around that the first Dying Light used for progression. Zombies will get stronger alongside the player, and in addition, weaponry, armor and resources the player can loot become equally potent. The player will not gain super strong weaponry without having first played a good deal of time, gone through the story mode a bit, and have subsequently earned strong arms. This gives the game a bit more of a natural, traditional flow that maintains a reasonable difficulty.

Night-time mechanics

In the first Dying Light, 9:00 PM would hit and night would fall. It is here when the feared Volatiles come out to play and regular zombies become more feral and dangerous. That said, if the player could keep away from them or had incredibly good weapons, these elements were somewhat trivial even on the Nightmare difficulty.

In Dying Light 2, night-time comes earlier at 7:30 PM and is far more dangerous, but the new Immunity mechanic ensures that the player will be forced to tread lightly at night even if they’re armed to the teeth with the best weapons the game can offer. When the player is not in direct sunlight or under a UV light, they will be placed on a timer, and when it reaches 0, the player’s character will basically die. This means they cannot just go traipsing around Villedor at night without a care in the world like they could in the first Dying Light.

Additionally, Dying Light 2 brings a new enemy to the dark: Howlers. When they spot the player, Howlers will, well, loudly howl and bring forth deadly Volatiles and other nasty things to pursue the player endlessly. Howlers come out in droves at night, ensuring that the player cannot just use reckless abandon if they do decide to venture out during the night.

Overall, making the player respect, or even fear the night gives a lot more credence to time management during the day. After all, the game isn’t called ‘Dying Light’ for nothing.

Now let’s talk about what Dying Light 2 hasn’t done so well.

The game is in a near unplayable state for a large number of players due to game breaking bugs

Oh boy. Let’s address this elephant in the room: Techland did not do a good job in the slightest at maintaining and ensuring a well structured game prior to release. While some fortunate souls out there were spared the wrath of their awful mistakes, others didn’t get so lucky. If you got really unlucky, there have been numerous reports, confirmed by Techland themselves, that some players have been experiencing a ‘black screen death loop’. Basically, if the player encounters a scenario in which their character dies, upon reloading the game, their character will instantly die again and again, and this cycle is never ending, forcing the player to abandon the save file entirely to begin anew.

Apart from that, pretty much everything beyond the prologue has encountered extreme bugs of some kind. In some cases, quests don’t play properly because important characters the player is supposed to interact with either don’t show up, or they do but cannot actually be interacted with, forcing the player to reset the game and go back in. Some fetch quests fail to function because the game doesn’t spawn the item the player is supposed to get in the game.

Perhaps the most irritating part of the game being extremely buggy is that it fractures player trust in themselves and the game. After all, if I get to a quest zone and get stuck, am I getting stuck because I’m just missing something, or am I getting stuck because the game isn’t working properly?

In its current state, for all of its positives, the game isn’t playable for some people because it is absolutely ravaged by bugs. Fortunately, Techland has maintained a consistent social media presence, and has announced a hot fix for many of these bugs which is due to release sometime within the next week. Still, it would’ve been better if they’d just delayed the release of this game again to perfect these issues. Sure they’ve been delaying this game since 2019, but that doesn’t excuse wanting to hastily release it now. It’s a bit discouraging to see that they’ve had seven years to develop this game, delayed it numerous times only for the final product to be as broken as it is.

Stamina mechanics

While the parkour is astounding, it is held back ever so slightly by odd stamina mechanics which seem to needlessly restrict the player. The character will consume lots of stamina for fairly basic actions, such as climbing a ladder, walking up a slope or using his leg to kick something. While non-immersive game mechanics do need to exist for the sake of keeping a game balanced, there doesn’t seem to be that reasoning here for Aiden’s fickle stamina count, and it would’ve been better to just keep it simple in this regard like the first Dying Light did.

Weapon durability system

Much like the first Dying Light, this game utilizes a durability system with melee weapons. Simply put, you use a melee weapon until its durability hits zero, then you repair it or find a new one. However, here, the ‘repair it’ part isn’t an option because a weapon can never be repaired anyway. Once it hits zero, it’s broken and completely removed from the player’s inventory. Maintaining the durability system from the first Dying Light would’ve definitely been a better call here, because weapons being so fickle removes a good deal of player agency. After all, why bother taking advantage of weapon mods and other attachments if I’m just going to end up losing the weapon entirely within about an hour of gameplay, if even that long? In the first game, you could repair a weapon anywhere from three to five times before it was done for good, and you typically got good mileage out of it after each repair. In this game, that simply isn’t the case.

And that’s all.

It’s difficult to give this game a grade because of the volatile state it is in. Technically, it should be given a grade of an F because it is borderline, or even straight up unplayable for some people because of its horrendously bugged state. If you’re among the few who play without these complications, then this game is undoubtedly A- at absolute worst, probably a bit better than even that, with potential to grow even better.

Techland has announced that they plan to support this game for five years. It would be silly to imagine that the game remains in its horrifically broken state for much longer. As such, this write up will officially give Dying Light 2 a grade of INC or, inconclusive, as it would be unfair to give it a solid grade considering its volatility at this time. I’ll plan to revisit it down the road, ideally when these bugs have been cleared, to discuss it some more then.

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