Though zombies come in many shapes and sizes, I tend to split them into two types. First, there’s the shambling, decaying undead that represents the classic zombie. Then, you have the sprinting zombies seen in movies like 28 Days Later. Those zombies may still have flesh slowly falling off of them, but they move at an almost superhuman speed in their quest to devour brains.
Dying Light 2 Stay Human is an unholy hybrid between those two types. On the one hand, its bloating gut is constantly on the verge of exploding from all of the game’s bugs. On the other, dashing through the rooftops of the City is exhilarating, as you constantly have to adjust and readjust your route to stay away from the zombie hordes.
A broken world
At its core, Dying Light 2 wants to deliver a large open world for players to explore, full of fun activities and great parkour-based movement. Unfortunately, the only thing the developers really nail about that core conceit is moving around that world. It does this with breakneck speed, as you run past zombie hordes and human bandits, trying to make it to your next destination without finding yourself in a brawl. You have all kinds of parkour-inspired moves at your disposal. That movement puzzle is where the game shines. While running, you’re constantly making little calculations to decide the best path: “Do I climb that wall to get higher and use my paraglider to windsurf to the next building? Or should I grab that zipline and use the bounce pad to get around that group of zombies?”
Dying Light 2 does that part of the equation incredibly well. If all I had to do in this game was run from cutscene to cutscene, I might’ve liked it better. Heck, the sections of the game where you’re being chased by zombies (whether as part of the open-world or the story) are easily some of the biggest highlights. However, everything besides the parkour — story, combat, event the technical side of Dying Light — quickly comes crashing down.
That’s not unexpected given that this is a relatively large open-world. Often, these kinds of games ship with several bugs that crop up and disrupt play. However, in my experience, Dying Light 2 had several bugs that either soft-locked the game and forced me to reset progress or destroyed any momentum the story had. For example, after the first few quests, the dialog in cutscenes bugged out and the characters wouldn’t talk. The game also skipped all of the subtitles, so I couldn’t tell what was happening.
Game-breaking bugs continued to pop up in ways both big and small. Characters would phase through each other in cutscenes. The collision detection would go all wonky, leading me to just vibrate in mid-air instead of grabbing the ledge of a building. Even in the final boss fight, the antagonist glitched into the environment, rendering him unkillable. These errors happen too much and too often to write it off.
The faults don’t stop with game performance and polish. The combat breaks down into either dodging or parrying and then attacking. Over the course of the game, the developers don’t give you many more meaningful tools. Even if they did, it wouldn’t really matter. On normal difficulty, combat is so easy it quickly becomes a bore, something you only do because you want to upgrade your loot. Even then, I quickly stopped caring about getting new loot because you don’t need to worry about better gear. If you just pick up random weapons, you’ll be fine. The game has an entire crafting system that lets you mod your weapons that I never used because there’s no point. That extra damage might end fights quicker, but it won’t make them more fun. You’re better off running from most encounters to save yourself the hassle.
Then, there’s the story that tries and fails to have interesting twists, the open world full of meaningless side quests, and the choice-based gameplay that turns out to barely change the world. I’m not one to hate on the illusion of a decision in games, as it often works well for developers trying to emulate the Telltale formula, but it should be noted given how much the marketing touted it ahead of launch.
The beacon of hope
With all of that said, Dying Light 2 feels like the kind of game that will get better with time. The developers have already committed to five years of post-launch content and I believe they’ll stick by it. They did the same for the original Dying Light and it became much better for it. The skeleton of a great game is undoubtedly in Dying Light 2, especially with how great it feels to run around the world.
To some degree, this feels like an early access game in everything but the release schedule and pricing. It has its core down. It knows exactly what it wants to be. However, everything around that needs more polish before it’s ready for primetime. So, even though I didn’t really like my time with the game, I guess I believe in Dying Light 2? I truly think I’ll look back in a year or two — when memories have faded — and think past me was dead wrong for giving it such a low score.
Dying Light 2 is a buggy mess of an open-world title. It is the definition of a game I would tell you to “wait to buy.” There’s a good game here, just waiting to burst out of this one’s bloated corpse. With time, the studio just might get there — it certainly has a track record of doing so. That said, with how broken the game was for me, it’s hard to recommend. All in all, Dying Light 2 Stay Human is a disappointing launch for the follow-up to one of the better zombie games of the last decade.
6 / 10
|Moving around the world is legitimately one of the most fun open-world traversal experiences in the genre
|A few set pieces feel like they’re straight out of a best-selling summer blockbuster
|A buggy, sometimes broken world
|Lack of meaningful side content, leading to the whole product feeling needlessly padded
|Combat that never meaningfully engages or evolves
Gamepur team received a PlayStation code for the purpose of this review.