Dying Light 2 Stay Human review: Good Night and Good Luck

Techland /

Title: Dying Light 2 Stay Human
Developer: Techland
Publisher: Techland
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed on), PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: February 4, 2022

It’s finally here. The release of Dying Light 2 Stay Human is one (if not THE) most anticipated releases of 2022. Fans of the original game have been chomping at the bit for this game ever since it was announced. Granted, Techland treated its fans well and has been drip feeding us new content for the first game for years to keep our tummies just full enough to last us until now.

As I cruise my way around Twitter, I have found people are afraid to pre-order the game because players are jaded by our experiences in the last few years. What I am coining the “Cyberpunk 2077 Effect” is taking hold of people. AAA developers will promise the world to gamers only to release half-games with broken mechanics and promises of patches and DLCs. It has worn down our faith in these hyped up games.

While this code was given to me for a review, I make it a point to give an honest and comprehensive review on my own personal experience. In no uncertain terms, I will be 100% honest on the pros and cons of this game. Let’s get into it.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human is the direct sequel to the 2015 release of Dying Light. The new game takes place 20 years after the first appearance of the Harran virus. After Harran was quarantined, the virus was fully contained thanks to the development of a vaccine. The first game’s baddies, the GRE, hid away some of the virus for secret testing and viral manipulation. Winter of 2021, the virus escaped the lab and the Fall of Humanity began and 15 years later, civilization is limited to small settlements that are few and far between and getting even farther.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human (4)
Techland /

The last standing city in the world is Villedor, a GRE testing hub that was cut off from the rest of the world. After the Fall, chemical bombs were dropped around the city in an effort to kill off the dead but only mutated them instead, leaving the dead to roam the streets. Everyone in Villedor is infected, it’s only a matter of keeping their viruses under control and monitored with a bio-marker.

You play as Aiden Caldwell, a Pilgrim who was a GRE test subject as a child. Pilgrims don’t live in a settlement and constantly travel from place to place. He is on a 2000 mile journey to find his sister Mia. They were separated during a military raid on a GRE facility run by Dr. Waltz and he has been searching for her ever since. Thanks to our old friend Spike from the first game (who is also a Pilgrim with Aiden), he gets a tip that someone may have some information in the city of Villedor, but getting into the city is going to be difficult.

Upon reaching his contact, much like Kyle Crane, Aiden becomes immediately infected from a bite. He finds out his contact is running away from Dr. Waltz and before Waltz can kill him, he gives you one of the only working GRE keys left, entrusting you with it. If Waltz gets his hands on it, everyone could die. Thus your journey begins into Old Villedor to find a bio-marker and find Mia.

I was really nervous to play Dying Light 2 Stay Human. I had put the first game on such a pedestal that I hoped I hadn’t set the bar too high for the sequel. Techland promises more parkour, more mutations, lots of replayability and consequences for your choices. I played Dying Light 2 Stay Human on a PS5. The game looks good graphically with fleshed out environments and zombies with hair! One of the things that tickled me about the first game was just how bald all the zombies were. There are plenty of repetitive character models for the zombies, but with new mutations comes new looks. You have your standard life cycle zombies: the fast Viral, the slower Biter and the desiccated Degenerate that looks like something you would find milling around some ancient Egyptian tomb. Volatiles are back and just as mean as ever alongside other mutations like the Howler, Revenants and Demolishers. Most mutations can be avoided by managing your quests through the day/night cycle unless otherwise required by the mission.

There are three factions fighting for control in Villedor: the Survivors which are your average Joes that took life to the tops of buildings after the chemical bombs destroyed all living things on the ground, the Peacekeepers (or PKs) which are the homegrown militia that believes order and punishment are the ingredients to bring civilization back and the Renegades which just believe in taking your sh*t and killing you. You can only align with two out of the three which means that any time you activate a water or electrical plant, you choose the faction who gains the power over that plant. Any Windmill (which are the safehouses) you activate in that faction will belong to them.

Dying Light 2
Techland /

Choosing a faction opens up new things in the city to help you make your way around. Teaming up with Survivors means you will have access to ziplines, air bags and other pieces of equipment that will make quick travel on the top of the buildings easier and more efficient. Teaming up with the PKs means more traps on the ground to kill, maim or otherwise mess up any infected that may surround you while traversing the ground floor. Because of the ease of traveling the high road, I chose to give the Survivors more than the PKs but you do have options.

Speaking of options, there are many different ways to communicate to people in the game. During any given conversation, you will have at least two options if no more to answer questions and steer the story. Gray options means additional information that doesn’t steer your path but yellow options are directional. There are also some conversations where you will only have 20 seconds to make your choice, steering your character one way or another, truly pushing you to side with one faction or another. It truly makes the experience feel a lot more RPG-like, especially with the expanded skill tree. Not only are you able to upgrade fighting and parkour skills, but you can find cases with inhibitors throughout the maps to upgrade your health and stamina.

There are two maps in the game: Old Villedor and the Central Loop. You will also receive a pair of binoculars to marks points of interest on your map, like stores to visit at night, windmills and alignment changing locations.

Old Villedor is where you will start your experience in the city as you get used to the idea of life on the rooftops. The buildings are suburban tall which act almost like training wheels as you gather skill points. The Central Loop is where most of the trailer footage is from with the skyscrapers that require a paraglider to traverse. There are certain quests that can only be done at night which means nighttime is unavoidable. I would avoid nighttime like the plague in the first game (pun intended) but night time feels a lot different in Dying Light 2 Stay Human. With Volatiles on the hunt everywhere in the first game, the night cycle was terrifying. In this game, Howlers are posted on every corner and they will call for all of their Viral buddies if they see you. The only time I encountered Volatiles were in dark zone buildings and those guys are no joke. They will swipe you in half in no time.

Techland /

The parkour mechanics are most definitely fleshed out in Dying Light 2 Stay Human. With double the parkour animations, traversing the maps quickly and efficiently was easy as pie. It’s not without its problems, however. At first, you feel very floaty in your movements and almost out of control. All through the game there were moments that Aiden didn’t go the direction I told him to go in and would get clipped on something. He would be stuck until I went full button masher and wiggled him out. In addition, the paraglider takes a LOT of getting used to. I can’t tell you the amount of times that I died trying to manage the paraglider across Central. It does get easier with time and practice but it takes work.

Two new mechanics in the sequel have to do with stamina and health. In the first game, stamina would deplete with running, dodging and swinging. In Dying Light 2 Stay Human, even holding onto ledges and climbing will deplete your stamina meaning that certain places are off limits until you level up.

In the previous game, you would need to find Antizin to keep the infection at bay but in Villedor, inhibitors and UV light are your only options. You can stay in the dark only for a certain period of time before the infection begins to take hold and if you don’t get an inhibitor or some UV light ASAP, you become the one of the shamblers of the city. It’s a really interesting mechanic and one I wasn’t sure about at first but after a while, both the stamina gauge and the UV timer become leveled up enough that it’s not an issue. It becomes more and more important to find GRE chests for inhibitors because you need 3 to level up a single skill.

There were two big glitches during my playthrough that really began to ruin the experience for me. The first occurred randomly during cutscenes and conversations. The characters would stop talking but the scene would continue with the text flashing for half a second before it was gone again. I missed large chunks of dialogue and exposition due to this glitch and would have to shut the game down completely to reset everything.

The second occurred only when I was on the skill tab for too long. Every time I sat debating over what skill to upgrade, my game would error and shutdown, losing my progress and closing the game entirely. That meant that if I was in the middle of a big mission, I couldn’t upgrade anything for fear that it would close out and I would have to start over. While Dying Light 2 Stay Human isn’t a difficult game on the level of say, Bloodborne, there were missions that had me white knuckling the controller all the way through and I didn’t want to repeat those unless I really had to (looking at you Jack Matt).

The story of Aiden’s journey to find his sister is good but it is going to take several playthroughs to really get the whole story and I’m curious to know what the canon ending will be. For the most part, it seems well rounded with twists and turns that give a moderately cathartic ending, depending on which you get. There were many different directions that Aiden could go and many times that siding with a particular faction would send him on a different path, changing his plans and re-evaluating what he would do next in the efforts to find his family.

Now, Techland said something about the face of the map changing depending on your choices and that I did not see. Maybe it will require more playthroughs but the maps, for the most part aside from the Epilogue in my particular run, remained the same. In my mind, you would make a choice and part of the map would flood and become inaccessible or something like that, but it didn’t happen. At first, I thought I would be disappointed, but because I did feel that my choices made a difference in my story progression, the lack of map changes didn’t really make that much of a difference to me.

In the first five minutes of the game, there are two mind melting moments that happened to me. The first is when Spike and Aiden walk into a long abandoned house to look for supplies. Aiden finds a record player with the record “Who Do You Voodoo” on it. Any fan of Dead Island will know that song. In the intro of the game, Sam B, one of the playable characters, sang “Who Do You Voodoo” and it became the anthem of that game. Having that little nod to the OG zombie game was such a giddy moment. Then, in that same house, Aiden and Spike sit on the roof and have a beer, talking about how the end of the world can be so peaceful and how he wishes that Crane could have seen it. That was a real heart tugging moment because it just seems that there is no such thing as a happy ending in the world of Dying Light.

I came into playing Dying Light 2 Stay Human with a lot of expectation and some fear of being disappointed. Aside from the glitches (which actually seem to have been fixed in the most recent update, pre-launch), this game was just as enjoyable as the first game. The story was engaging, the choices mattered, the graphics were good and flowed well as a sequel (although they aren’t Uncharted 4 good) and the environments looked really good. Villedor may be the biggest character that was created for Dying Light 2 Stay Human. There were areas of chemical desolation but there were places of bright, colorful lights. Because the game gives you the option to focus on your mission or to help instill hope, there are places all over the map that can reflect those feelings. Whether you are in the cold steel of the Peacekeepers safehouse or the bright and celebratory Fish Eye, Villedor is one of the best parts of the game.

Jonah Scott did an incredible job as Aiden and Rosario Dawson was stunning as Lawan but my favorite had to be the character of Hakon, who was voiced by the founder of parkour, David Belle. He is an incredible voice actor on top of creating a whole movement…uh, movement. Belle’s Hakon was the most complex character in the entire game alongside Demetri Goritsas’s Waltz. Compared to Waltz and Hakon, Aiden and Lawan’s character evolutions were babytown frolics. Stewart Scudamore’s Frank was also complex and a joy to watch progress.

I had a blast playing Dying Light 2 Stay Human, truly. There were sad moments, shocking moments and moments that were so anxiety-inducing that I had to pause and walk away to take a breather. While most missions felt familiar and similar to the first game (the go-fetch type), there were some that were so intense that I held my breath as I played. The parkour was much more intricate and took it to heights (ba-dum-tsss) that will give you vertigo sitting in your chair. And then, as you paraglide across the city to your next destination, you get a feeling of peace as the wind whips by your ears only to land and hear the screams of someone succumbing to a biter. The sound mixing is great as the ambient noise is just as scary as the monsters themselves. The music isn’t as good as the first game (but few things are) but does its job well in creating a mood. There is a fun Easter Egg where a guy is listening to music during a quest and it’s music from the first game; the song “Horizon” in particular, I believe.

Oh! I almost forgot, there is fast travel available! You can unlock fast travel locations through metro stations but unlocking them are tasks in themselves. They are filled with Renegades at the best and Volatiles at the worst. The best thing to do is wait until night time and run like hell into the metro to accomplish the task. There is one thing I see that Techland didn’t change and that was the lack of manual save. I love me a game that has checkpoints AND manual save. Checkpoints are for when you die but a manual save is for when the game crashes, which it did…a lot. Despite that, as soon as my first run completed, I was ready to start the game again. What I didn’t expect was the lack of New Game+. I was looking forward to going again with all my weapons and upgrades but there I started again, naked as a baby with no skills to speak of. I played my first round on Normal and I started my second run on Easy to gather collectibles (tapes, cards, newspapers and files), complete all missions and visit all locations. When New Game+ becomes available, I am going at it on Hardcore, you best believe.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human felt enough like a Dying Light game to appease old fans and feels new and improved enough to draw in new ones. You can feel Techland is listening to players and changing the game in the right direction. This game is connected to the first but doesn’t FEEL like just another installment. You don’t need to play the first game to enjoy this one but I highly recommend playing the OG because it’s just an incredible game. I have completed the first game over a dozen times and I know that I will play the sequel just as much. Techland is going to continue trickling out new content, events and DLCs for the next five years, so there will always be a reason to return to Villedor. This was an incredible game and I plan to rave about it just as much as I did its predecessor.

You can play Dying Light 2 Stay Human February 4th on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X and PC. I give this game a big recommendation. Techland make this game live up to the hype and it will put faith back into pre-ordering games again.

Dying Light 2 Stay Human (PS5) Score: 9.5

Dying Light 2 Stay Human is the sequel we hoped for and nearly everything Techland promised. There are some technical issues that can affect your quality of gameplay, but I have all the faith in Techland to iron those out, possibly even before its official release. Just because of those, I can’t give the game a perfect score, but it’s damn close. This is going to be the game to beat this year.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.