“Dying Light Stay Human” makes me Nostalgic for Dead Island.


(A gaggle of goons on the attack inside a small alley, photo curtsy of techradar.com)

Available On: Xbox, Playstation, PC

Development Team: Techland / Publisher: Techland

Release: Feb 4th, 2022


“Dying Light Stay Human” was a breath of fresh air inside a crowded genre of rinse and repeat scavenge-and-survive formula back in 2015. Everyone at the time would pull off a “Left for Dead” clone and still make sales.

Clearly, there was a lack of creativity, but the development team over at Techland put a real literal approach to players by making them run and survive. The title was reminiscent of another favorite title of mine from 2011 called “Dead Island.”

Like any modern game today, “Dying Light Stay Human” has its problems, such as the cliche narrative and lazy combat mechanics. The mere involvement of the parkour mechanics is different from what we’ve seen before. The sequel promises to improve on these foundations and gives a system where choice makes an impact on the surrounding world.

Our story returns twenty years after the events of Harran. Humanity lost the war against the virus and has turned everything into a modern dark age. People are clothed in rags and tattered clothes, zombies swarm the streets, and humanity is on the break of extinction.

This game makes several references to the prequel even though you don’t need to play the first game in order to understand the plot or any mechanics.

The game is a new generation of characters, new scenery, and a new colorful plot. Techland was so confident in the gameplay, they needed an equally powerful narrative to go along with it. So they hired writers from the hit game series “The Witcher.”

We play as Aiden Caldwell, a pilgrim who’s on the search for his long-lost sister Mia. Flashbacks tell us that Mia, Aiden, and other children were a part of a secret underground testing facility run by the evil doctor, Waltz. The characters at this stage are quite generic, along with a lot of plot conveniences make for lots of eye-rolling moments.

We are met by a foe named Hakon who agrees to help us get past the central tunnel. In order to pass, you need a biomarker, a watch-looking device that monitors your immunity levels and prevents you from turning into a zombie.

Around this time the game tells you almost everyone is turned and applies a tutorial-like segment, which nearly ties into the narrative.

In order to make conflict, the game introduces three factions which you can align into various categories, good, bad, and super bad. The experiences the game offers is tied to the decisions you make though the changes aren’t as significant as the game developers make them out to be. Again, their are multiple endings but a lot of subplots only go so far.

First, you have the Peacekeepers, a military group that has a great liking to reinstating law and order through harsh environments. Then there’s the Renegades a crew of mask-donning escaped prisoners who loot and cause a ruckus throughout the city.

In my playthrough, I had took the basic let’s play choice and allied with the peaceful survivors, regular people just trying to get by by using their surroundings and resources.

Inside this playthrough, you partner with the group leader. Sophie is a leader who hopes to tip over the Peackeepers and regain control of the main water supply.

Since you’re an outsider, you teamup with her problematic brother. While you don’t really get along, as the story continues, you prove your allegiance to the group, which tips her to trust you more.

Sadly, you can’t actually literally explore and team up with these characters, it’s mainly limited to cutscenes.

Circumstances lead you to turn into a double agent for another faction, which leads to confrontation and eventually an independent war between factions.

This is where Techland has really stepped up the writing, offering believable scenarios and a well-rounded cast of characters. I really appreciate when characters have an important, realistic goals or morals, it’s what makes me really love a character and a game, making the whole experience more believable.

The actual platform gameplay was great. The parkour I fell in love with during the first game was mostly the same. Yet, there is just enough additional crazy and exhilarating moves provided, if  you put time and effort into the game.

You start as a low level character and slowly make your way up in levels and abilities, which leads to more stamina and being able to do complex moves without lowering your stamina too much. Stamina isn’t the only skill you can increase in the game, but when it comes to leveling up your character for a good build, stamina is your best friend.

The only movement section that I didn’t find favorable was the hand glider. I found myself struggling to use the controls. They were jittery, a little delayed, and I’m already terrible at flying mechanics in games.