Shortly after Dying Light 2 came out, a review appeared here on InReview. Due to the horrendous state the game was in, it wasn’t necessarily fair to give it a solid grade. Months later, numerous patches have stabilized the game. As a result, it’s time to give it some closure here and give it a review.
At the time of writing, unfortunately, bugs still do exist in this game. However, gameplay is still pretty stable and, as such, this review will not discuss or reference bugs in this game moving forward.
Let’s begin, talking about what Dying Light 2 does well.
If Dying Light 2 had to nail anything, it was parkour. This is what the first iteration became so well known for, and this one expands on that big time. The world the player travels in is very large, well condensed, has a lot to do and it’s strong parkour takes advantage of all of that.
In Dying Light 1, the player arguably may have a bit “too much” in the sense that the tools the player were given trivialized the game’s difficulty. Here, Dying Light 2 strikes a pretty much perfect balance. The paraglider, grappling hook and various tools to help parkour give the player a lot to work with. But they still have to use their heads and be careful, as these tools do not make them invincible.
A concern a significant portion of the player base had was that Dying Light 2 was removing guns from the game — rifles, handguns, and shotguns. In Dying Light 2, the only projectiles the player can use for primary weapons are crossbows and light bows.
Fortunately, it works pretty well. Melee combat naturally is well refined, granting simple but effective options such as parrying, dodging or using small weapons like throwing knives to interrupt an incoming attack. Interactions with enemies such as bandits, several types of zombies or the feared Renegades are unique and fresh as a result.
Dying Light 1 had some “secret” quests or third party references, such as having a Super Mario level, an area which referenced Plants vs Zombies, and the EXPCalibur.
Dying Light 2 is a tad short on third party content right now, but they’ve nailed it with some hilarious secret side quests. The Pan of Destiny is the standout here — a throwable frying pan which functions as a boomerang of sorts. It’s obtained by speaking to a talking chicken, known as the Space Cock, who is a member of the Galactic Federation. This talking chicken instructs the player to go underwater, find a car, take a spaceship part out of it, and deliver it to him. Upon doing so, your actions will redeem humanity in the eyes of these aliens, and the talking chicken will teleport away after completing this task. No, I am not under the influence of anything as I type that out.
Though a tad short on third party content, there are a couple of selections that were quite notable. In one side mode, the player can gain temporary access to the “KaDoom Shotgun” and play through the Hangar level from the original Doom made in 1993. They could also get a giant witch broom resembling a broom from Harry Potter used to play Quidditch.
These funny or iconic moments give the game some character, a way to make it memorable.
Sadly, Dying Light 2 isn’t perfect. Let’s talk about what’s gone wrong with it thus far.
In the first Dying Light, melee weapons had a durability system. Once a weapon hit 0 durability, the player had to repair it. They could do this 3-5 times depending on the weapon before it was done for good.
In Dying Light 2, once a weapon hits 0 durability, it’s done. The only way to change this is to invest 500 scraps into the Korek Charm, attach the charm to the weapon, and repair it in this way. Unfortunately, Scraps are used for virtually everything important in this game, so asking 500 to simply repair one single weapon is pretty outrageous and generally not worth it. As a result, player creativity is fairly hindered. Why try your hand with new and unique weapon modifications on an axe that will be broken in about an hour of gameplay? Incidentally, weapon modifications cost a lot of Scraps to install themselves.
It would’ve been a good idea to simply adopt the Dying Light 1 system for durability into Dying Light 2.
The storytelling was sloppy and a bit difficult to seriously care about. Long-term goals aren’t typically clear, seemingly important characters are mostly disposed of prematurely and the ending is typically pretty dull. The ultimate objective is for Aiden to locate his sister, Mia, who he believes to be somewhere in Villedor. Along the way, Aiden will meet important characters such as Hakon, Sophie, Lieutenant Matt and Juan who seem to take turns getting the player’s attention before fading off into the background and being voices over a walk-in talkie. Sophie in particular just about totally vanishes once the player reaches Villedor’s Central Loop. This was unfortunate and made it hard to really care about any of them for the most part. The only character who seems to stick around once meeting Aiden is Lawan.
Endings aren’t satisfying. No matter what, Aiden will eventually locate his sister and her fate once he does so cannot be changed. Additionally, the player will not be able to see their game’s ending play out once they return to playing side quests and exploring Villedor — the game essentially “flashes back” after finishing the campaign and undoes a series of events which led up to the story’s ending. This makes interacting with some of the aforementioned characters after finishing the campaign a bit awkward.
With the exception of Easter eggs, side quests have been pretty underwhelming in Dying Light 2. In Dying Light 1, side quests were typically fun, either involving important side characters or writing a fun, interesting story to be followed as a quest line is completed. In Dying Light 2, it’s mostly one-and-done side quests with unidentified people who will never matter again after their quest is finished. In a way, this is to say these side quests lack the “charm” of Dying Light 1.
Charm (or lackthereof)
Speaking of which, in general, Dying Light 2 just lacks the overall intrigue that Dying Light 1 had. This may be due to a large over saturation of the industry it finds itself in — a first person parkour with zombies. Dying Light 1 launched in 2015, when open world games were fairly uncommon and the zombies killing sub genre was in the twilight of its prime. Here in 2022, the overall gaming climate isn’t as welcoming to Dying Light 2.
Techland’s direction as a company
Recently, Techland administered free upgrades to all Dying Light 1 players. Those who had the Standard Edition received a free upgrade into the Enhanced Version. They also released a cosmetic weapons set in Dying Light 1. Finally, they announced that the background characters, Tolga and Fatin, who administer lots of side quests, will be granting double the experience points for players who finish their side quests for a limited time.
Techland certainly became well known for supporting Dying Light 1 for a nearly unprecedented amount of time following its release. They’ve also said they plan to do the same with Dying Light 2, adding new content to that game for five years. However, Dying Light 2 is still in somewhat of a precarious state, stability wise. Why is the focus on Dying Light 1? Techland may not be the small indie company they were when Dying Light 1 came out, but they aren’t a AAA company by any means. This would suggest that having people continue to work on Dying Light 1 would hinder efforts to continue to develop Dying Light 2. This is overall looking like a big mistake as, per Steam player count, far more people on average have been playing Dying Light 2 than Dying Light 1. Hardly surprising, as Dying Light 1 has been out for seven years! It would be better to leave Dying Light 1 on the sideline, at least until Dying Light 2 has seen some DLC and is flawless, stability wise.
Overall, Dying Light 2 should be given a grade of a B-. It’s not a bad game, in fact being decently fun. However, it fails to follow up its predecessor or come anywhere close to doing so. Hopefully DLC coming out in the next few years helps, but it has core problems that will almost definitely cause it to be well short of Dying Light 1’s brilliance in the end.