A star rating of 4 out of 5.

When you're trying to explain Dying Light as a video-game franchise to anyone that isn't familiar with it, 'zombie parkour' is the quickest way to get your point across. And in those two regards - the zombies and the parkour - Dying Light 2 Stay Human really shines.


The developers from Techland have been working away on Dying Light 2 for years, with their original Dying Light game from 2015 becoming something of a cult favourite and gradually accruing an impressive amount of players - in 2019, it was reported that 17 million people had played the first Dying Light, and that number will have increased with the survival horror title's recent re-release on Nintendo Switch.

If you haven't played it or can't really remember the original Dying Light, don't worry - Dying Light 2 is set 15 years later and it's based around a brand-new playable character named Aiden. He's on a quest to find his lost sister, and that's all you really need to know. There's also a handy recap at the start that will fill you in about society's downfall and the rise of the undead, so you could definitely jump in here if you wanted to.

When you do jump into Dying Light 2, it doesn't take long for the game to introduce you to its excellent traversal system - here, as in the first game, your main way of moving around a zombie-infested city will be running across rooftops, jumping over perilous gaps and landing on the occasional car roof when you need to. As they shouted in that scene from The Office, 'Parkour!'

Parkour is the only way to avoid being zombie food in Dying Light 2.
Parkour is the only way to avoid being zombie food in Dying Light 2. Techland

If you've ever enjoyed swinging around New York in a Spider-Man game or bouncing around a city in something like Sunset Overdrive, we'd wager that you'll find a lot of enjoyment in simply going from A to B in Dying Light 2. And here you have the added benefit of bringing your mates along (you can play Dying Light 2 solo or in groups of up to four players online) as you make your eye-catching moves around the city.

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It feels fast, frantic and very satisfying when you do it well. The basic gameplay is simple to pick up, and the environments are designed brilliantly in both a visual and practical sense. There are even perilously high platforming puzzles for players to solve, which are very fun to work out, especially with the dizzying heights adding an extra piece of peril.

There's real peril attached to your exploration, too - if you spend too much time at ground level, you're liable to get spotted by a 'Howler', a loud-mouthed zombie that will shout for his hungry mates. They'll all start chasing you, which becomes properly scary very quickly.

The longer the chase goes on, the more zombies will be on your tail, and before you know it, there's an entire horde at your back. Think of it like the notoriety system in GTA, where the entire army would hunt you down if you got to five stars.

This part of the game is nothing short of fantastic - the parkour is constantly exhilarating and the zombies themselves feel properly threatening, which is a combo made in heaven. The zombie virus has also mutated to such a degree that there are now loads more different classes of zombies, each with their own quirks, which is a nice evolution for the franchise at large.

Zombies come in all shapes and sizes in Dying Light 2.
Zombies come in all shapes and sizes in Dying Light 2. Techland

However, when you're not legging it around the city and trying to outrun the horde, Dying Light 2 does have a few problems. Although Rosario Dawson is brilliant as always in her supporting role, much of the voice acting from other quarters feels a little stilted.

This isn't helped by the fact that non-playable background characters often repeat the same handful of dialogue lines, which does break your sense of immersion somewhat. It makes the world feel overly fake when you hear different people saying the exact same thing over and over again.

Dying Light 2 is also unapologetically an open-world game in the most extreme sense, which means you will be forced back and forth between locations as you constantly pile up an ever-growing stack of side-quests. The overarching plot moves forward at a snail's pace as you try to get various people to trust you around the city, which might frustrate some players that would rather cut to the chase. But when the traversal from A to B is so fun, this back and forth doesn't get old as quickly as it might have done otherwise.

Also, the story is a bit cliched at times (filled with flashbacks, twists and betrayals), but that's easy to forgive as well. It feels like a B-movie horror tale, but it's easy to get swept up in it, mainly because it's dressed up with the trappings of a stunningly designed fully-explorable city. The combat does feel a bit dull and repetitive at points, as well, but you could argue that it's not really the main attraction of a game like this.

It is worth stressing, as well, that the story does go to admirable lengths to create choices for the player that have actual repercussions, which is always something to be applauded. There's narrative exploration as well as physical exploration, and those two combined elements make Dying Light 2 feel like a highly enjoyable experience that you could argue is more than the sum of its parts.

Dying Light 2 launches 4th February for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, with a Nintendo Switch port coming later. We reviewed on Xbox Series X.

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