The original Dying Light was one of my favorite games when it came out. The zombie parkour open world adventure was fun, engaging, and addictive. So, when Dying Light 2 was announced, like many, I was pretty excited. More than half a decade, we are finally getting our hands on it, was it worth the wait? Unfortunately, not really. While it’s a competent game, it just never reaches the highs and fun of its predecessor.
It’s a Bland, Bland World
Taking place in the fictional city of Villedor, Techland has given us a huge sandbox to run, jump, climb, and explore. You play as Aiden, a “Pilgrim” who’s trying to find his long-lost sister. Along the way you’ll meet the people of Villedor and make choices that will ultimately decide which faction will be in control and which ending you receive. One of the first stumbles in this game is that Aiden is…really boring. The way that he’s portrayed makes it feels like he’s bored with his own game, and it’s kind of hard to blame him. Most everyone he interacts with are cardboard cutouts of character archetypes. Hardened military man, angry young upstart, the dude who’ll definitely betray you, etc. Hell, even Rosario Dawson’s character, while played well, is just basically “Grr, I’m angry,” and that’s pretty much it. The previous game wasn’t Shakespeare, but the characters and story were at least interesting.
The story itself is also fairly uninteresting and inconsistent. You’ll be deciding on whether to side with the Survivors, who’re the regular folk trying to live out their lives the best they can, and the Peacekeepers, a military force wanting to bring back law and order. Story wise, it really doesn’t matter who you go with until you’re almost done with the game. Major “choices” feel unnoticed by the characters in the game. Honestly, your choice really boils down to how you want to play the game. Survivors will give you more parkour options while Peacekeepers give you more ways to fight and destroy the undead. You can mix and match who you side with, no repercussions, so pick whatever you feel like.
We Run This City
Where Dying Light 2 really shines is in its parkour mechanic. The game map is fairly expansive and running from one end to the other can be fun and exciting. After a few upgrades, the glider being a welcomed addition from its predecessor, the gameplay really opens up and feels fluid and frenetic. You can lose hours just trying to climb the tallest building you can or trying to get the top score in the time trials. It’s honestly the best part of the game. The combat system doesn’t feel as good but still fun nonetheless. The biggest issue with it is that it can get really repetitive. Dodge and swing is really all you’ll be doing. And more than likely you’ll find strong enough weapons that’ll make combat at whatever level you’re at trivial. Both combat and traversal in Dying Light is a lot of fun… when it works.
Bugs in the System
It’s fair to say that this is nowhere near a Cyberpunk situation, but boy did this game start feeling unfinished. There are tons of small bugs like Aiden not climbing properly or the hit detection being off that sure can be annoying. It’s nothing game breaking, but it’ll definitely take you out of the immersion. Then, it gets worse. At times, zombies wouldn’t acknowledge me, bodies would clip through the environment, and the worst I ran into was enemies didn’t spawn in properly leaving me unable to finish a mission. Even though this is a next gen (or I guess it’s current gen now), this game really felt like a game from the middle of the last generation. It really doesn’t look all that impressive, and the loading times are noticeably long. For all the delays, it felt like it could have used another long one to iron out these issues. It’s not an indictment on the hard-working developers, but the game itself just wasn’t ready for release.
Lay it to Rest
Dying Light 2 was a game I, like many, was really looking forward to after playing the first, so it’s such a shame that what we got just wasn’t up to snuff. The story is all over the place, the characters are boring, and there’s a clear lack of polish. The parkour is still fun and the combat, while repetitive, can still be exciting when bugs don’t force you out of that groove. Honestly, if you haven’t played the first game, go back and play that one. But Dying Light 2? I can’t recommend.