Dying Light 2: Stay Human is here. As fans of the first game in the franchise, Dying Light, we’re ecstatic that its follow-up is finally here… and whether or not it’s worth the seven-year wait.

See, when it comes to zombie games, the “formula” tends to be too consistent – scavenge, survive, rinse, and repeat. And although Dying Light was a hit, we were a bit skeptical that its developer, Techland, would make its successor work. Over the seven years that Dying Light was in hibernation, a ton of zombie-based games had tried (and failed) to entice gamers.

So, is Dying Light 2: Stay Human a success, or does its predecessor outshine it? It’s time to dive into the details.

Introduction

Its story takes place twenty years after the events of Dying Light. Humans have lost, the virus has taken over the world, and we’ve been forced to live like it’s the modern Dark Ages. In other words, we’ve truly immersed ourselves in a Walking Dead-like universe where the undead dominate the streets.

If you’re wondering if you need to play the first game, you don’t. You’ll get nuggets of information from the first game, but you don’t need to play Dying Light to get what’s going on. The game introduces you to a new group of characters as well as a plot that’s surprisingly well-fleshed out.

We say goodbye to Kyle Crane (no spoilers – you’ll know why if you played Dying Light), and welcome Aiden Caldwell, a survivor that’s part of the group “Pilgrims”. He’s a beast at combat but he’s also infected – in short, he has to stop himself from turning into a beast throughout the game. The dark-versus-light theme harks back to the line in Dylan Thomas’ poem, “rage against the dying of the light.

Torn Between Two Evils

With that said, you do get to make decisions that can change the game’s ending, but they aren’t as drastic as we had hoped. Although the highlight of the game is the fight to “stay human”, this internal struggle isn’t that apparent even with the multitude of missions.

Yes, the game is choice-based, but the choices barely change Dying Light 2’s dynamics. You will be torn between two evils and you will be made to question your morals, but it’s not quite on the same level as Man of Medan, Until Dawn, or Telltale’s The Walking Dead.

If anything, your choices affect the future of the factions, the Peacekeepers, Renegades, and Survivors, and whether or not they’ll be wiped out at the end of the game. When you improve your “reputation” with a faction, you will have access to their respective rewards. However, by befriending one, you’re also betraying the other. For instance, if you side with the Peacekeepers, you will be able to get combat-based upgrades, but the world will also be filled with more car bombs.

The World

Dying Light 2 takes the idea of “open-world” to the extreme – in fact, it’ll take you days to explore it. The game revolves around Villedor, a vast environment that looks like it was plucked out of a post-apocalyptic movie. Everywhere you look, there’s evidence of pre-apocalyptic times like parks, skyscrapers, and the like, but it’s all shrouded by blood and brutality.

You’ll inevitably want to explore Villedor the moment you set foot in it. The game often forces you to go off the beaten path, which is good, as it allows you to find something new. The world is so vast that you’ll be tempted to set aside your main missions. We’ve already finished the game, but we’re still finding entire regions that we never knew existed.

What’s more, Dying Light 2’s expansive open-world has treasure troves everywhere. You can walk into buildings that would otherwise be empty in other zombie-based games. You’ll find more loot and more zombies to boot.

The Gameplay

The real danger starts when the sun sets in Dying Light 2.

Things are safer during the daylight, but at night, Villedor is a nightmare come true. As mentioned, Aiden has to stop himself from turning and to do that, he has to stay in the light. Now, you no longer want to fight the mobs of zombies but flee to safety, or else you’ll turn into one of them. It takes skill to kill these “after-dark” zombies, so you won’t stand a chance unless you’ve got the right weapons.

Speaking of weapons, Dying Light 2’s weapons are extremely realistic, as you can only use axes, clubs, and other makeshift weapons that would likely exist in a post-apocalyptic world. However, you do need to repair your gear to keep them in good working order. Weapons get weaker the more you use them, so make sure to get the right materials to upgrade them from time to time

One of the things that Dying Light 2 brought back is parkour, which was one of Dying Light’s signature features. Its improved parkour system allows you to climb any surface and perform parkour combos that’ll impress any parkour athlete. You do need to build your parkour ability to unlock more complex maneuvers, however, once you’ve maxed it out, you’ll be able to explore even the riskiest skyscrapers of Villedor.

The Graphics and Sound

Dying Light 2 serves impressive visuals. As we mentioned, the world is so wide, but it’s still incredibly detailed. We played it on our PC and it would be an understatement to say that it’s a treat to the eyes. During the day, you’ll find yourself in a world that’s still stunning despite the savageness and gore. And during the night, you’ll be awe-stricken by the shades of gray and violet that add a pop of Cyperbunk-ism to the bleak environment. Walking around the city feels claustrophobic in a way – the UV-lit fog that greets you with every step adds a layer of realism to the game.

Dying Light 2 is the kind of game that can take whatever you throw at it, whether it’s mobs of zombies spawning at a time or splattering guts that look like they’re about to escape the screen. Its performance is spectacular – that is, of course, if your PC can handle it. For reference, we played Dying Light 2 on a PC with Intel Core i5-8600K and 16 GB of RAM. Click here to check the suggested specs for Dying Light 2.

In terms of sound design, Dying Light 2 gets the assignment. As a mob of zombies pursues you, the music ramps up to create tension in the air. The best way to describe its sound design is that it evolves as events unfold. It makes you feel like you’re in a Walking Dead-like world, but it also allows you to slow down to embrace the emotions brought about by its gut-wrenching cutscenes.

Our Verdict

Should you buy Dying Light 2? Reviewers have said that it’s a bad follow-up to Dying Light, but we say that you should go ahead and add it to your cart now.

It may not be on the same level as the original game, but that doesn’t mean it’s unworthy. Sure, its choices could have been more impactful, but we shouldn’t forget why we play zombie-based games in the first place – for the thrill of the zombie-killing-spree. As an RPG, it may not be a stand-out, but as a zombie game alone, it belongs to the top tier.

If you’re looking for a zombie-based game that is also a bit choice-based, Dying Light 2 won’t disappoint. There’s a ton of things to do, and even after you’ve finished the game, you’ll still have fun exploring every corner of Villedor.

Try it out for yourself today and buy Dying Light 2: Stay Human on Steam.