With this year wrapping up, we’re taking at look at the games that have stood on out in a jam-packed year. Next up: the very belated, very good Dying Light 2.
It’s not unfair to suggest that Dying Light 2 hasn’t been as universally beloved in the same way that its predecessor was. Whether it’s thanks to Elden Ring taking off a considerable amount of its sheen or its world perhaps not being as alive and reactive as first hoped, it’s a sequel that remarkably has less than half of the amount active players as the original on Steam at this time of writing.
That’s probably not what Techland were expecting. But judging from how Techland supported the original game, they’re only really just getting started with Dying Light 2 — and what’s here already is still one of the most fun experiences of 2022.
The most obvious improvement lies on the narrative side. Yes, the main villain may be the most video-gamey bad dude you could ever encounter, anime villain monologuing and all, but it’s the supporting characters that make you care. Lawan and Hakon are two of 2022’s best supporting characters, while there’s also plenty of interesting, sometimes devastating stories to be found around Villedor.
There’s also Barney, who you will no doubt look forward to abusing with the game’s more robust melee options at the earliest available opportunity.
Parkour also feels like it’s been taken up several notches, with Dying Light 2 having the best traversal system seen in any video games not featuring webcrawlers. It’s absolutely joyful to be able to use a zombie’s head as a starting block for a huge dive off a skyscraper before you glide along at the last minute, then use the grappling hook to zip along even longer. All of this while backed by Olivier Deriviere, whose music here often makes you feel like you can dropkick Atlantis back to the surface.
It’s a gigantic world too, packed with plenty to see and do, as well as aesthetically being a winner. While not for everyone, especially those who loved Harran, there’s something about the gritty, deteriorating landscape of Villedor that leaves me really unsettled. Trying to find my way around the overwhelmingly undead Central Loop left me with a cold shiver, especially at night with howls sounding out all over. The zombie designs — oozing and decaying as if they might just fall apart before they even reach — also feel like a considerable step up from what came before.
Dying Light 2 really does have its scary moments, with creeping through dens being particularly unnerving, though it’s fair to suggest that the Volatiles never feel quite as dangerous here. It does feel a little perhaps like Techland pulled back a tad on the overt horror to make a game that more people can play for longer periods of time, whereas the original was maybe too intense for some. Your mileage on if that was a wise decision or not may vary.
Ultimately, Dying Light 2 wasn’t quite able to reach the same heights as what came before it for most people, or really any of the fifty AAA open world games that launched at the start of the year. However, if you ever wanted to go parachuting with Rosario Dawson, you might be pleasantly surprised by just how good it is — and it could get even better still.
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