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Mini-review: No, I don’t want to play Dying Light 2 for 500 hours


Every image in this review was captured while playing the near-final retail version on a Windows 10 PC. That includes a shot of this underwhelming mini-boss zombie, who does little more than wave around an oversized weapon while slowly stumbling. The same issue applies to most of the game's ho-hum zombie cast.
Enlarge / Every image in this review was captured while playing the near-final retail version on a Windows 10 PC. That includes a shot of this underwhelming mini-boss zombie, who does little more than wave around an oversized weapon while slowly stumbling. The same issue applies to most of the game’s ho-hum zombie cast.

Techland

Eventually, Dying Light 2 opens up and becomes an OK game. I needed to play this sequel for roughly 12 hours to see the premise of the original 2015 game—”run away from zombies in a first-person view, and combine parkour with rusty machetes for bloody combat”—go somewhere satisfying.

But Dying Light 2‘s early segments are boring and repetitive. The tutorials are overlong, and the first zone is claustrophobic. And its plot setup and dialogue feel like they’ve been stitched together at the last minute—with a pinch of weird English translations tossed in.

Want to blow up zombies and then slice their remains with a hacksaw? <em>DL2</em> has you covered.
Enlarge / Want to blow up zombies and then slice their remains with a hacksaw? DL2 has you covered.

Techland

If you mash the “skip dialogue” button every chance you get and ignore any zombie-game fatigue you may have, you might cut DL2‘s shoulder shrug of an opening down to eight hours of adequate, repetitive first-person action. Only then will you find yourself in a sprawling, fun-filled megacity. By that point, however, I was too worn out to keep playing. I wasn’t remotely close to developer Techland’s lofty estimate of 500 hours of play.

Drake-onian plot and dialogue

<em>DL2</em> already has a reputation for bad acting and dialogue. Rosario Dawson, who lends her voice and likeness to secondary character Lawan, is an exception. Sadly, she shows up way too late to set the game on a proper course.
Enlarge / DL2 already has a reputation for bad acting and dialogue. Rosario Dawson, who lends her voice and likeness to secondary character Lawan, is an exception. Sadly, she shows up way too late to set the game on a proper course.

Techland

In DL2, you play a post-apocalyptic wanderer named Aiden whose voice sounds almost identical to Nolan North’s famed Nathan Drake character in Uncharted. Voiced by actor Jonah Scott, Aiden provides near-constant narration as well as an obnoxious amount of first-person panting and grunting as he enthusiastically runs, jumps, and clambers. I never got past how similar Aiden sounds to Drake, and I do not understand why Techland’s voiceover producers failed to pick up on this similarity as a problem.

As Aiden, you beg anyone within earshot for intel about your long-lost sister. You have learned that she may be on the other side of a massive, vaguely European city named Villedor. After a virus wiped out most of mankind, the city has been taken over by two opposing factions of survivors: a might-makes-right encampment known as the Peacekeepers, and an angry-but-sneakier commune called the Bazaar. Your only hope of reuniting with your sister is to make an alliance with one of them.

Developer Techland makes its first mistake by overemphasizing DL2‘s terrible plot and dialogue. Instead of using its playable intro sequence to teach players how the game works, DL2‘s first 40 minutes are mired in exposition. The intro jumps all over the place in its attempt to connect two of the game’s most boring characters via overlong monologues. Aiden provides one of the monologues, while the other is courtesy of a throwaway character who doesn’t stick around for long.

These two characters are only the beginning of an ever-present problem. DL2‘s voice acting is perhaps the worst I’ve heard in a video game of this scale. More than half the game’s English-speaking voice actors employ different non-native accents, as if the apocalypse only left behind the survivors of an entry-level ESL class in Eastern Europe. And they’re chained to a script that consists of awkwardly translated phrases, along with massive leaps in logic and wartime strategy.

I might have had a better time laughing at how oddly this combination turned out if DL2 had a smaller script. But after one too many overlong speeches, I resorted to mashing the “next line” button.





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