Dying Light 2 Stay Human hardly needs an introduction – the sequel to the Polish zombie apocalypse parkour action is among the first big releases of year 2022 .
- Platform: PC , PS4 , PS5 , XBOXSX , XONE
- Genre: action
- Release date: February 4, 2022
- Developer: Techland
- Publisher: Techland
The original, released seven years ago, managed to pleasantly surprise, so many people were waiting for the second part, despite the fact that things did not always go smoothly for Techland : we can recall several postponements of the release date, rumors of production chaos in the company, and after the termination of cooperation with Chris Avellone (Chris Avellone), who helped the studio work on the script and supported the narrative team, many had well-founded doubts about the quality of the product.
I will not try to create unnecessary intrigue (anyway, the most attentive ones have already noticed the assessment) and I will say right away that the developers on the whole coped well. Not without reservations: coincidence or not, but the script became the weakest point of Stay Human – as opposed to the extremely exciting gameplay.
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The best city in the world
The plot of the continuation starts two decades after the events of the first part. The sad history of Harran has long been forgotten against the backdrop of a global tragedy – a zombie virus has swept the entire planet, and the remnants of humanity huddle in a few surviving settlements separated by thousands of kilometers.
A weak connection between cities can be maintained with the help of Pilgrims – loners from among those who are not afraid to set off on the road, not even knowing for sure whether the goal of their trip has turned into another nest of infected.
One of these wanderers, Aiden Caldwell, finds himself in the city of Villedor, in which, despite the infection of the bulk of the population with a zombie virus, civilization has survived. Our hero is not just led by an adventure road – he is trying to find his sister Mia, from whom he was separated many years ago, as a child.
Willedor, however, doesn’t care about Aiden’s problems. The city lives an independent life, in which there are enough dramas: ordinary survivors are trying to establish contact with the Peacekeepers – a military organization striving with a firm hand to maintain order, and on the outskirts at that time the Renegades are raising their heads, which are a group of bloodthirsty, but well-organized thugs led by a commander with the speaking nickname The Butcher.
It is easy to see that the continuation script largely copies the first part, down to trifles like getting bitten by a zombie at the beginning of the story (here, however, this will have slightly different consequences).
Back in business, one of the easiest ways to get to know the plot is when the protagonist, who comes from outside, begins to explore the world with the player. Well, at least they did without amnesia.
However, it is really interesting to explore the city: since we are talking about similarities with the first part, I will note that Villedor is not only noticeably larger than Harran, but also much richer in terms of content.
Each district of the city has a unique look, and a huge number of random events, side quests, minor cases and noteworthy places leads to the fact that, having gone on to complete the next story mission, you can come to your senses after a couple of hours far from the task goal with a fairly plump supply of completed “side effects” ” is an effect familiar to many from Red Dead Redemption 2 .
And the city is changing. And not just changing, but with our help. In addition to those changes that are laid down by the plot, the player can influence the balance of power in Villedora at his discretion.
After the first third of the campaign, when access to the central area of the metropolis is opened, Aiden is faced with a choice every time he returns to life an object useful to the population – a windmill, a power plant or a water tower.
The question is simple: which faction should we give the building to – the Survivors or the Peacekeepers?
It’s not just that the map is painted over with certain colors and an outpost of one of the groups is located on the new object – the whole area is also changing. The military is installing new zombie traps and stationary guns on the streets, and civilians are beginning to develop a transport network, leaving objects in convenient places for faster movement.
Players with a different approach to gameplay – someone likes parkour more, and someone likes fighting – will have completely different versions of the city. Expect more global differences that affect entire areas of Villedor depending on the decisions made at key points in the plot.
This phrase, which has become one of the slogans of the project, does not lie. The choice is really important: it affects both the life of the protagonist and the development of the city.
We checked this with Ivan Loev , who makes a video review: they acted differently and found out that the case was not limited to several options for the final video telling how it all ended (although there is such a thing), the differences manifested themselves during the entire campaign, up to completely different story missions and the lack of entire locations.
The end result is a unique Aiden story for everyone, and a very different Villador at the end.
Anticipating the expected questions regarding the co-op, I will answer in advance that it was not possible to try out the network game - this feature was disabled before the release.
About each such fork (the choice almost always occurs during the dialogue), the game carefully warns and gives time for reflection. In promotional materials, such an impact of choice on the plot and on the world around us, of course, looked much more tempting, but what happened, leaves an interest in replaying. I would like to look at the events in the city from the other side.
However, this is the way for the strong in spirit – the game saves automatically, overwriting the previous one, so “save” before the fork, and then check “What if? ..” will not work. The only way is the “New Game”, where you will again have to go through a lengthy prologue, learn the basics of combat and parkour from scratch, left without the entire arsenal of equipment and pumped skills.
It’s good that after the final mission we are allowed to return to Villedor and do whatever we want there – from completing the remaining side quests to exploring locations and fighting zombies and bandits for fun.
Hit and run
About fights and parkour, a separate conversation suggests itself, but it is unlikely that it will be of interest to those who are familiar with the first part. Intuitive (after a little training) character control and a combat system based on close combat with melee weapons made it possible to have fun even during battles with ordinary opponents.
Parkour, on the other hand, gave a feeling of freedom, and the designers did not forget to create locations that challenge the player – it was difficult and interesting to study Harran.
The sequel did not drastically change what worked so well, focusing on improving the almost flawless foundation in this regard. Of the noticeable changes, it is worth noting only the complete rejection of firearms: now we fight with a variety of melee weapons, and you can only shoot from bows and crossbows. There are no cars and large open locations that appeared in the original with the release of The Following DLC .
Opponents are not whipping boys even on the standard difficulty level, and the fights are clearly divided in style depending on who and what time of day Aiden is fighting this time.
If the infected take the number, health reserve and are able to arrange a real chase at night, then the people are a few, but smarter opponents. Dodging, blocking, calling for reinforcements, attacking from several sides – this modest set is enough to feel in good shape in every battle.
Those wishing to test their strength in extreme conditions can go to an area a level or two higher than that of the character – it is noticeably more dangerous there, but the reward for risk is greater.
But in the dark, Willedor is far from being as scary as the night Harran, despite the presence of the so-called “night activities” associated with the search for valuable loot among sleeping infected or battles with mini-bosses.
And in general, there was almost nothing left of the horror component in the second part – even if at night a crowd of the dead started chasing you, it’s not at all difficult to run to the nearest shelter, and the number of story scenes where they try to scare the player can be counted on the fingers.
As for parkour, suffice it to say that it is still as beautiful as in the first Dying Light . If we do not take into account purely fantastic analogues like the movement model from Ghostrunner , then we have, perhaps, the best implementation in first-person games of the main principle of parkour – any obstacle can be overcome.
The same is true for the combat system. These components of the gameplay are made to last – the character moves beautifully and almost always realistically, it is convenient to control him, and gradual pumping constantly adds fresh features, thanks to which you can reach places that were previously inaccessible and apply new tactics in battle. What else is needed for happiness?
Boring fairy tale
The question, in fact, is far from idle. DL2 is a good game, but it could have been much better if the developers had managed to come up with a really interesting story.
Their efforts are noticeable, but all attempts to tell the fascinating story of Aiden’s life resulted in a complete cliché story that does not really develop, and the ending is crumpled and does not touch the soul at all.
It’s funny that Willedor looks like a much better candidate for the role of the main character than Aiden. The city lives its own life, changes depending on our decisions, and side quests and random encounters are often noticeably more interesting than the main tasks.
You worry about the fate of Villedor, but the path of our Pilgrim almost does not evoke emotions – in the final video, I was noticeably more interested in the further life of the city than the consequences of events for Aiden and his friends.
This is a consequence of another problem – the lack of charismatic characters. Almost every participant in the main plot is a walking stereotype: a crazy inventor, a stupid martinet, an unprincipled lover of a beautiful life, a “tomboy” who is harsh on the outside, but soft at heart … Not only are the characters not really spelled out – the characters disappear from the story so quickly that to with all your desire, you can’t get attached to him.
Loan, Aiden’s companion and (seemingly) romantic interest, generally looks like a pathetic likeness of Panam Palmer from Cyberpunk 2077 – up to the inept copying of entire scenes with a beautiful nomad.
Unlike side quests and the development of city life, the story of the protagonist is a viscous quagmire. The main quests are sometimes unreasonably long: slowly moving the plot to the denouement, they seem to be made to increase the timing.
Genuine interest in what is happening with Aiden I had a few times during the entire passage – criminally little for a game that wants to captivate not only the gameplay, but also the plot.
Maybe it really was the breakup with Chris Avellone that had such a strong impact on the plot? It is unlikely that we will know the answer, but the fact remains: DL2 is not able to tell an exciting story, but it is almost impossible to find fault with the gameplay.
It’s good that you can return to Villedor even after the campaign is over – you can spend many hours exploring all the nooks and crannies of the city.
The developers plan to develop the project for a long time, and, remembering the simply exemplary support of the first part, these promises should be trusted.
The very concept of a game-service, where the story is on the sidelines, is suitable for DL2 , given the lack of problems with parkour, combat and exploration of locations. Don’t forget about the multiplayer as well – many people call the first part one of the best options for cooperative games.
Techland turned out to be an almost perfect sequel – if you like the original, then Stay Human should not be missed in any case. Yes, and to everyone else, I can sincerely advise Dying Light 2 – if you do not expect much from the plot, then exploring a huge city can captivate in earnest.
Pluses: the appearance of the city changing from the player's decisions; combat system; parkour; convenient management; side quests and other activities.
Cons: weak plot without charismatic characters; sluggish pace of narration; inconvenient save system.