Dying Light 2 Stay Human is a post-apocalyptic open-world parkour-centric action RPG from developer Techland. That may seem like a lot of descriptors, but I assure you – this is a lot of game. Set two decades after the events of the original, Dying Light 2’s story places you in the shoes of Aiden Caldwell, a wandering Pilgrim on a mission to find his long-lost sister Mia across the zombie-ridden metropolis of Villedor.
Throughout my 40+ hours with the game, I divided my time pretty evenly between the main story path and a slew of really enjoyable side quests. The story beats are well-written and performed by folks like Rosario Dawson, but Aiden’s journey tends to meander all over the place, losing focus for a large chunk of the second act, while somehow rushing at the finish line. While never outright bad, these scenarios were rarely memorable.
But any shortcomings along the main path are saved by an absolute wealth of optional activities that are a blast to complete thanks to a smart progression system and the game’s impeccable sense of traversal. These diversions include parkour time trials, bite-sized dungeons infested with zombies, scaling Ubisoft-esque windmills that reveal nearby points of interests, and fetch quests that often have entertaining framing devices, like helping set up a post-apocalyptic version of Tinder.
My favorite pastime involved returning electricity and clean water to individual sections of the city via neat little puzzle boxes. With each one I completed, I was able to choose whether to give control of the given area to the militarized Peacekeepers or the common folk Survivors, both choices coming with their own set of perks. The game is peppered with these small kinds of decisions that make your adventure feel authored, though I can’t say I noticed any of the world-changing events that were touted leading up to release.
Everything you do in Dying Light 2 feeds into the game’s many progression systems, which makes it feel like you’re constantly becoming a stronger and more adept Pilgrim. There’s a never-ending trove of apartments to loot for crafting materials, tough enemies to take down for stronger gear, and hidden caches to find that let you permanently upgrade your strength or agility.
Though melee encounters have evolved in this sequel, with an array of blocks, parries, dodges, status effects, and parkour-laced attacks, the combat never really stood out. Rather, Dying Light 2 is at its best when you’re scaling tall buildings, dashing across rooftops with a horde of zombies on your tail, and paragliding across the city. Open-world games often live or die by how much fun it is simply getting from point A to point B, and thankfully, that’s an absolute joy here.
Given how much I loved the act of movement in the game, being able to focus my gear and play style towards parkour meant that I was able to unlock new mobility skills at a quicker pace. By the time I was nearing the final act of the game, I could get from one side of the city to the other without ever taking a dip in my momentum. Aiden might not be a superhero, but he often made me feel like one, which I loved. That said, there are some frustrating moments where you’re forced to keep your feet on the ground, like whenever you enter an allied base to accept and complete certain quests.
Visually, the game looks fantastic, with impressive views, minimal loading screens, and an excellent sense of scale. While there’s certainly some standard open-world jank and the occasional technical hiccup, the good far outweighs the bad here.
Dying Light 2 builds upon nearly every aspect of the original, delivering an open-world playground just begging to be explored. Though the main story didn’t leave a lasting impression on me, I’ll be thinking back fondly on my 40 hours in Villedor, and I’m already looking forward to jumping back with a couple of friends for another 40.
Dying Light 2 Stay Human is available on February 4 for $59.99 on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X | S, with a Nintendo Switch cloud version planned for later this year.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Dying Light 2 Stay Human.