The original Dying Light has been a somewhat staple in the gaming industry for an entire generation. The game launched back in 2015 and Techland supported the project for over five years. I do hope the same can be said about Dying Light 2 in a few years’ time but as it stands now, I cannot recommend this game in its current state. Dying Light 2 is a broken, uninspired, buggy, technical mess of a game that gave me nightmares of Cyberpunk 2077…. but with zombies.
Dying Light 2 follows the journey of Aiden who stumbles upon the surviving city of Vellidor on his search to find his sister Mia. Aiden, being a Pilgrim, a group of people who act as couriers and deliver stuff around the world on foot, has spent his time not only searching for his past but also visiting various locations to find his sister while he was at it.
At first, little is known about Mia and Aiden’s past at the start of the game other than some cutscenes that see Mia annoyingly scream Aiden’s name over and over again. Can someone please get the Panado? Aiden’s trip to Villedor slowly turns into a hogwash of a mess as he gets roped into the city’s struggles, politics and leading factions that call the place home.
As open-world RPGs go, I encountered a range of people in Dying Light 2 that all needed something done. Villedor is also filled to the brim with random encounters like people needing healing, thugs beating someone up and the random overpowered zombie creature to take down. Was anything I got up to in Dying Light 2 somewhat memorable? Sadly, no.
The game’s writing is horrible and instead of offering up some deep story to uncover, emotional characters to get to know and intense missions to undertake, everything in the game is shallow and underwhelming. So pretty much nothing has improved here when compared to the first game. Now, the original Dying Light can sort of be forgiven for this given it was the first game in the series and we are talking about a game released around seven years ago.
It also doesn’t help that these characters, while often throwing words at me like vomit as they explained their sad crisis, looked bad at the same time. Facial animations are dated and even body movements are blocky and robotic. It didn’t help draw me into the story at all, in fact, I often found myself browsing social media while listening to these people ramble on. If you came for the story, you won’t find it here.
I also could not help but feel like Dying Light 2 feels extremely dated when it comes to the general RPG experience here too. Almost as if the game is a step down compared to the original. The skill tree is lacklustre, for example. Aiden starts off with pretty much nothing unique to use at all. Even swinging a stick is one-note and requires a skill point to unlock a power swing. Surely people would know how to do this if given the chance, right?
The two skill trees are also littered with cookie-cutter abilities that sort of come across like cheap decisions “because Techland had to”. You can’t drop kick until you unlock it, you can’t even sprint without unlocking it. Now imagine if these skills were already there and the team had to actually use their imaginations to come up with something exciting to obtain. Sadly, these skills don’t do much to reinvent the wheel and even once available, feel mediocre. That’s because the game just grows boring and dull very quickly. Once you have smashed your hundredth zombie, that’s as good as it is going to get.
Sure, there are moments when I was overwhelmed by goons but every combat scenario plays out like the previous one. I simply blocked, or parried and sliced them up. Zombie encounters do offer some rush at times. The different breeds forced me to switch up my approach but after a while, I just avoided fighting some because I wanted to get on with the nonsense I had to take on.
Parkour is probably the only gem to experience here in Dying Light 2. Running around, leaping from building to building and ding it all at once feels great. It starts off a bit rocky but the more I played, the better it felt. Aiden is agile and there’s really no building he can’t climb. Well, depending on his stamina levels maybe. The more you jump about and climb, the more stamina you use and once that bar depletes, Aiden will let go of whatever he is holding and fall to the ground.
It all gets put to the test during the parkour runs where I had to sprint across a certain distance while picking up checkpoints. Some of these were insanely fun to complete and at times, quite frustrating. Mainly because the game’s parkour is unforgiving. If I didn’t land exactly on that tightrope, I would stumble to the floor below and splat. At times, I kind of wished there was some sort of magnet system in place, like most third-person platformers, that would place me on the spot if I was an inch off the mark.
There’s also a new chase system in Dying Light 2 that offers up some fun. Aiden can’t explore the world in the dark for a prolonged period of time either. So at night when I explore the city, Howler zombies would spot me and alert all his posse to my presence. I then had to sprint for my life to avoid these faster breeds chasing me. The Chase then goes from a level 1, which is easy, to a level 4. Sort of like a GTA wanted system.
Not to forget that I had to juggle these chases while also finding UV lights in order to replenish my timer. If anything, these moments were the best part of the game. I had to think fast, be good at the parkour and fight when needed.
Dying Light 2 is also buggy as hell. Even almost a month after launch I still encountered progression bugs where NPCs would not speak to me in order to progress to the next part of my mission. I then had to restart my game and because Dying Light 2 doesn’t have a manual save system (in 2022 this should be a crime), the game would often load me in before I even completed the objective. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent repeating the same damn thing over and over again. It was painful.
Multiplayer is also broken in the game. It constantly bugged out so I could not invite friends or join their games. If I managed to get it working by turning off my internet and starting the game up, I was often kicked a few minutes into the session. You also can’t teleport to your friend either so if they got to the objective before me, I had to trek there else the game would crash. This is not on at all.
Dying Light 2 isn’t the most technically advanced game either. If anything, it looks dated. Even the PS5 version performs poorly. Objects are shoddy, textures are often tiled and performance isn’t impressive at all. Even the loading times are long…. how?
Sadly, I can’t recommend Dying Light 2 in its current state. Maybe if the multiplayer worked and the progression bugs weren’t around, it would make for a somewhat decent experience. Unfortunately, the combination of some rather mediocre gameplay and these technical issues makes it one of the worst games I have played in a long time.
Dying Light 2 Review
Story - 6.5/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Presentation - 6.5/10
Value - 6/10
Dying Light 2 is sadly a buggy, mediocre, technical mess of a game that is let down by its dull story, weak characters, poor writing and dated RPG design.
Parkour is fun