Buggin’ Out: Dying Light 2 Stay Human

Photo credit: Dying Light 2 cover art, Techland

SOME SPOILERS INCLUDED IN THIS POST! You’ve been warned 😉

I wanted to love Dying Light 2: Stay Human like I loved the first one. And I did love the story because it’s a complex tale filled with difficult choices. Not to mention the choices really do affect your outcome at the end which reminded me of one of my faves: The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. Unfortunately, the state of the game at release really bugged the $h!t out of me, but I’ll get to that in a minute. For now, let’s focus on the positive.

So the good stuff about the game: I loved the story. I loved how you could align yourself with whatever group spoke to you the most. I chose the Survivors because I tend to be a “teamwork makes the dream work” kind of softie. I loved the romance you could spark with Lawan. The combat with the infected and bandits was a lot of fun. The weapons and the way you could mod them thrilled me to no end. I mean, who doesn’t want a machete that can set an opponent on fire?!All in all, I loved 90% of this game. But…yes, we knew there would be a but…

Oh…where to start? Perhaps with the blue screen of death that happened at least twice per gaming sesh. Keep in mind I’m not gaming as much as I once did so that translates to the game crashing about every couple hours. Then there were entire cutscenes that skipped through the dialogue. Even the closed captioning skipped ahead so I missed big chunks of what the characters were talking about. Granted, I’m always slow to jump on new games so there were lots of videos out already where I could watch the content I missed. But really? For $60, I shouldn’t have to cyberstalk Aiden just to hear what he had to say to Lawan, lol.

There were other parts of the game that felt a little half-baked like the parkour system. My Aiden died far more from platforming mishaps than those pesky volatiles. That being said, as I’ve freely admitted on this blog, I am a less than stellar platformer so there is that. But games with smoother climbing mechanics such as AC Odyssey and Horizon Zero Dawn gave even my old reflexes far less trouble. I also felt the side quests could’ve been a bit less fetch-y and a little more insightful into Aiden’s character.

I mentioned the bugs and glitches to my beloved who replied, “Yeah, but that’s every new game these days.” He has a fair point and while the state of Dying Light 2 wasn’t as catastrophic as other somewhat recent releases that shall remain nameless (you know the ones that broke everyone’s heart…you know what I’m talkin’ about), it was far from release ready, IMHO. While it’s true that 90% of what flawed this game can and most likely will be remedied by patches and updates. But as gamers and consumers, I think we deserve more for our hard earned money than “Oh, that? That’ll be fixed later.” So endeth the soapbox portion of this blog post.

Yes, yes, let’s get back to what Dying Light 2 did right, which was something I consider paramount to any story game: an engaging narrative that fosters genuine reflection into the human condition. In this case, I couldn’t help but appreciate the double meaning of the game’s title. Of course there is the fact that toward the end of the prologue you’ve been bitten and for the rest of the game, if you spend too much time without UV light or linger too long in a patch of infection-accelerating chemicals, Aiden will turn into one of the nameless and doomed Infected. This does, of course, pose the question: are the Infected no longer human? That is a philosophical and ethical question for another day, but given the way everyone who hasn’t turned in the game slaughters Infected wholesale, we can gather this post-apocalyptic society has decided no. No, the Infected are not human.

But here’s what I found beautiful about the title: Aiden’s journey is riddled with many difficult and thought-provoking choices. Which faction to side with, who to save and who to forsake, which folks are worth helping, and often sacrificing personal comfort and safety for the greater good. Aiden even had the opportunity to fall in love. It’s this interpretation of the title that struck me. How, when the world is a mess and plagued with disease does one fundamentally stay ‘human’. Being human means making tough choices all the time. And in our very real time of plague and disease, there have been moments where we as a society have behaved subpar. I’m looking at you, those who when COVID first broke out hoarded all the toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, and ramen noodles. Okay, I’m being flippant about a very serious subject mostly because I don’t want to delve into more serious debate about vaccines and mask wearing. And please, let’s avoid such diatribes in the comments should you leave one. No matter what side of either debate speaks to you, I think we can all agree that though our outbreak was nowhere near as severe as that in the game, our selfishness and drive to put our own needs above the needs of others did show. I can only imagine what would happen if COVID did turn some of us into bloodthirsty, mindless killing machines. How hard would it be to stave off savage and cruel instincts then?

While Dying Light 2 was far from perfect, I think it had enough meat to the story and interesting missions to make it worth playing, even with the blue screen of death lurking around every cutscene. And I am a sucker for games that force the player to make choices with sometimes unforseen consequences. Art imitating life is always a mirror worth gazing into. And let’s not forget the fire-infused machetes. Never forget those! If you’re on the fence about buying it, I’d give you this advice. Wait a couple months for the patches and fixes to come out and then do buy it! Especially in this current round of economic set backs, you can’t go wrong with a zombie tale. At least that’s what the psych experts say…and I tend to agree.

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