Review: Dying Light 2 – nothing like dropkicking a psychopath 30 yards
The game isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot of fun.
It honestly doesn’t feel like it has been nearly six full years since the release of the original Dying Light. Over that period of time, the world has changed. We are still in the midst of a full pandemic and it seems the zombie fad has pretty much gone belly-up.
Although announced back in 2018 for a release in 2020, and then delayed a few times until February 2022, Techland’s Dying Light 2 is finally here. Is it worth the wait?
Here’s the short answer – Yeah, I think it is. My interest and enjoyment in Dying Light 2 ebbed and flowed like the tide. The opening of the game is fun. A large portion of the first chapter is not. The rest of that chapter is a blast.
The beginning of the second chapter starts to wane again but exploration really takes off soon after. This continues for most of what I’ve played, but as the game goes, quality does increase.
Unlike the original Dying Light, the story actually is engaging in Dying Light 2. Aiden Caldwell’s adventure starkly contrasts Kyle Crane’s. Aiden has more or less grown up in this zombie apocalypse and is in search of his sister.
This is a step up from Crane’s “just doing my job” angle. The supporting cast is also quite enjoyable. The two guards you meet at the start of the second act are some of the most memorable of the whole game.
Combat is a lot different this time around. While zombies seemed to be a majority of the fodder thrown your way in the first offering, humans take up just about every meaningful battle in Dying Light 2.
You will most certainly wear out that block button faster than you ever expected. I found myself overwhelmed in a surprisingly large amount of fights, with parkour being the only way to escape to give me a chance to heal. I enjoyed thinking on my feet, even on the easier difficulties.
The world and environments of Villedor feel familiar to Dying Light’s Harran, but also different and more lively. For example, the skyscrapers of the city center are similar to Harran’s downtown, but the glider keeps exploration from coming off as painfully vertical. Techland has most certainly learned from their experiences and Dying Light 2 shows plenty of improvement.
Dying Light 2 is far from a perfect game. In fact, in the earlier moments of the game, I asked myself a few times if I was even having fun. A large part of that is that I absolutely loathe being put on a finite amount of time. Unfortunately, the infection timer in Dying Light 2 serves as a shorter leash than I’d like.
The infection timer will count down at night or in dark areas, like anywhere indoors. If you happen to end up in a situation where that timer hits zero, it’s game over.
If you plan on exploring dark areas, you will need to keep plenty of items to stave off the timer, or hope there are UV lights around. As you progress in the game, this becomes less of an issue, but ultimately it still really sucks.
What sets Dying Light 2 apart from other zombie games is that the core of the game is built on parkour. Sadly, I honestly don’t think the game’s parkour is all that good. In fact, at its very best, it’s passable and at its worst, it’s an obstacle.
As I unlocked new parkour abilities, I hoped maneuverability would improve but I found myself falling to my death even more.
My Dying Light 2 experience was pre-day 1 patch, but there still is a level of glitchiness that should be noted. If you played the first Dying Light, you should already have an idea of what to expect. You will get killed by zombies standing under something you are standing on. You can bypass puzzles by getting stuck long enough to reach a ledge. It’s an absolute blast to abuse the enemy AI.
Dying Light 2 comes into its own as soon as you unlock the dropkick. I need to point out that Dying Light 2 is heavy on physics. As soon as you earn the ability to violently boot enemies away from you with the force of a violent car crash, it’s all over. Turning a ravager into a deadly human projectile is fun, there’s just no way around it.
Dying Light 2 is much more story-driven, which means more boss fights. Bosses, for the most part, are just normal enemies with enhanced stamina and HP. What that means is that at least a handful of times, I’ve started a fight by hitting them in the face with a throwing knife, dropkicked them into a wall, and then bludgeoned them with a pipe until their head popped like a pinata.
It’s pretty funny to get a few minutes of dialogue about how this person is a threat, only to go full murder-hobo when the game gives you back the controls.
Dying Light 2 is definitely an acquired taste
I’m going out on a limb to say Dying Light 2 isn’t for everyone. There is a bit of frustration you need to initially power through.
The overall gameplay loop requires a bit of self-sufficiency if you want to get the most out of your experience. Once you can take your time in the night/dark cycles of the game, there is a lot more that opens up, but that also requires a ton of backtracking.
If your enjoyed Dying Light, you will most certainly enjoy Dying Light 2. I wouldn’t expect Dying Light 2 to win any game of the year awards, but it is a solid release. If Dying Light 2 gets the support its predecessor had, it will be a game everyone can enjoy for at least the next 6 years as well.
I certainly see myself coming back to Dying Light 2 as a palate cleanser after tackling some bigger games this year. Besides, these enemies aren’t going to dropkick themselves.
Dying Light 2 is available on Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch (currently delayed), and PC.
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