Dying Light: Monsters, We.

a Paper Crane

A Dying Light Fan Fiction and sequel to Latchkey Hero.

Dying Light Monsters, We.

There are three kinds of people in this collapsed world. The many who’ve accepted their lot. The rest that claws for survival at any cost. And those rare few who continue to live unabashedly—shamelessly—even with their humanity a fragile thing. 

Aiden finds Villedor at what he hopes to be the end of a too-long search for what’s left of his family; an end to a life he lived alone, one muddy, dark road at a time.

It’s all he’s ever known and he’s far too young to be so weary.

Kyle Crane, his Paper Tiger by his side, seeks Villedor in a final effort to turn back time on a curse that threatens to unravel them both; to make them forget what they so stubbornly kept on living for.

It’s far too hard to fight and, sometimes, forgetting is a tempting mercy.

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a Paper Crane

Dying Light: The Lone Wolf of Harran

Babar Kizil was totally full of shit. Garlic? Wolfsbane? Cinnamon? Eat all that and your lycanthropy was cured? Holy shit, no, that wasn’t how this worked.

And Kyle would know.

Dying Light Kyle Crane

30k words, completed, rated M for Crane’s language, Werewolf AU

Kyle had been bitten by a lot of things in his life, even before he’d landed in Harran.

A dog (not the dog’s fault, he’d woken it up). A cat (totally the cat’s fault). A rabbit (seriously?). A shark (yep, also totally Kyle’s fault). Women (consensual). Men (also consensual). And a werewolf (not consensual).

There were more, but we’d be here all day. And you know what? You should probably read this fic if you like Kyle Crane and if you like werewolves and especially if you like both, plus zombies, a bright-eyed Rahim Aldemir, a non-binary Death, and, uh, puppies.

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Dying Light Kyle Crane
Art by hummingdead.

Things I Love about Dying Light 2: Stay Human

Is this a Taff Squees? Yeah, probably. See, I have been doing very little next to playing Dying Light 2, plotting my Latchkey Hero sequel, making gifs, and, you know, generally being preoccupied with the Dying Light franchise as a whole. So I’ve decided to whip up a little post about it. Or, rather, recycle one that has already made the rounds on Tumblr previously.

The parkour mechanics, top to bottom.

Who’d have thought that the parkour in the parkour game would be so good, huh? I’d already had (and am still having) immense fun traversing the Harran rooftops with Crane, but taking to the much more vertical Villedor armed with a boatload of new moves and tools is something else.

Let’s make a wee list of what I love about it most:

  • How the music builds as you hit your stride; and how it varies depending on the situation, the time of day, and where you are.
  • How that same music stretches when you leap far, giving you the impression that the whole world is holding its breath for when you land.
  • How Aiden gets so damn excited over getting things right. I’d always loved it when Kyle gets giddy after landing in some trashbags, so I’m delighted they’ve leaned into this a lot more for Dying Light 2. It’s catching. Aiden ought to congratulate himself more, he’s doing great.
  • How smoothly you can chain all the moves. From leaping off the edge of the roof, to gliding across to another buildng and rolling into a window, or, you know, kicking someone in the face. The possibilities sometimes feel endless.

The stealth

Have you seen my screen name? And if you have, do you know where I got it? I got it from Thief and Thief The Metal Age. My First Love. My Forever Favourite. I love stealth. Stealth is my Thingt, so when I say it pained me that Dying Light had pretty poor stealth I mean it. The game was otherwise perfect and the lack of refined stealth mechanics was something I often lamented when playing, and I am pretty sure I ranted about it to friends, too.

Then Dying Light: Stay Human happened. Help, I’m in Love. It’s unfair with how this goes straight for my heart.

Dying Light 2 is my Near Perfect Game. It included the last thing that was missing from Dying Light. And yeah I say Near, cause it’s not got Crane, but that’s an entirely different topic and not one for this particular blog post. So. Uh! Stealth!

When I noticed that stealth was a viable option, I near lost it. And it is! Viable! Very! I can steal my way through the night and I can work on clearing a bandit camp without anyone ever seeing me coming and I get to walk away feeling a wee bit accomplished after. Plus, how human enemy NPCs react to you leaving the flashlight on? Perfect. Yes, forgetting to turn it off was a dumbass move, thank you for reminding me. I will now proceed to beat you senseless with it (I mean, not really, but wouldn’t it be neat if I could?) and steal your socks.

The ability to play without a HUD because you get feedback for everything without it

I already loved that in Dying Light. You always knew when Crane needed a bandaid based on how he reacted to getting clipped. Aiden is a bit more expressive than Kyle in that regard, especially as he gets pummelled, which makes it even easier. But there’s more to it. So much more. Dying Light 2 is very immersive if you let it.

Case in point: I have never seen my stamina meter. I don’t need to. Much like I don’t need the immunity timer to tell me when I need to eat a mushroom, lest I crave succulent thigh, because the biomarker will beep and Aiden will get worked up over it when it gets hairy.

I do wish though I could look at a wristwatch and the biomarker whenever I wanted. Being able to stick out Crane’s arm to check what time it was? Used that often. Would love to use it again.

And you know what you get when you play without a HUD? Gorgeous, gorgeous vistas all day every day, without anything distracting you. Plus, the VNC Tower climb without a HUD? Hnnnngh. More, please.

If I have got a gripe, then it’s how I cannot turn off the entire HUD in the game itself (like you can in Dying Light). Currently, I gotta rely on a combination of deleting the individual HUD components and a camera mod, which is perfectly doable but also, like, a wee bit of effort.

Everything about stamina running out

My favourite game difficulty in Dying Light is Nightmare. Why? Because Crane runs out of steam and I got to be a bit more careful about what I do with the energy he’s got. As such, I’m very glad that stamina is a much more valuable resource in any of Dying Light 2’s difficulties.

Even better yet, I’m a big fan of what running out of stamina does. Yeah, you can’t swing your weapon anymore, true. But you can still shove them bitches. And Aiden thumping on his ass when you try and dodge without stamina has got to be one of the best decisions any game developer has ever made.

Using the Environment

Okay, so, before I start to get all excited about this: Where are my buckets, Techland? Hm? Hmmm? You teased them buckets and then only gave me spears, bottles, and bricks.

Visual proof of Bucket Teasing

Anyway, I love throwing things. And I enjoy grabbing ledges and kicking mooks in the teeth and shoving someone into a fire because I have otherwise run out of steam. Mmm, crispy mook. What’s not to like?

Bonus Spear Action. Aiden has one hell of a throwing arm.

Expanded Night gameplay

Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving me a reason to be out at night that extends past a bunch of nighttime missions. Because the night is gorgeous and spooky and exciting in Dying Light 2. Though have you noticed how there’s always a full moon? Villedor and Night City have that in common and, honestly, it’s no longer a surprise both cities are a wee bit fucked.

Volatiles are scary again

Okay, I admit this one might just be me not allowing Aiden more health and a healthy dose of self-imposed dread, but I did feel like Volatiles in Dying Light 2 have more bite than they did in the original.

:3

Yes, the game is gorgeous

The game is visually stunning and an absolute joy to listen to. From the pitter-patter of raindrops hitting your paraglider to the night singing its creepy songs and the score playing as you move; it all fits together beautifully. Though I am not gonna lie, I do miss Dying Light’s atmospheric music, while at the same time understanding why they decided to focus on more situational scores which rely on your momentum. ‘Cause it works. It really does.

I want more

I’ve played the game for more than 120 hours, haven’t even seen everything yet, and I already want more. In particular, I want to see more of the world. More of Villedor. Like that castle sitting atop a tall hill lording over the city. I want to go there. And a game making me want to see more is a game that has my attention and is likely to hold it for a very, very long time.

Thank you, Techland. Thank you, Dying Light.

With a side of Thanks, CDPR!

Dying Light 2: Stay Human (CGI Trailer December 2021)

Alright. Hear me out (or don’t, this’ll be a ramble).

*clears throat*

I’ve had three notable rough spots in my life. I’m talking under the filthy floorboards kind of rough, at the bottom of the ladder rough and the ladder is on fire rough.

Rough Spot Number Two was the worst of them, all things considered. When I say Kyle Crane saved my life back then? That’s not hyperbole. That’s me being literal.

To be fair, that’s a bit of a story old as time for me; Taff in distress, fictional character to the rescue. He wasn’t the only one either, but I digress.

It’s also a story relevant to so many other people and my heart goes out to anyone else who needed to be pulled from the darkness by a movie, game, book, you name it. You’re valid. Your experience is valid. You’re worth so much.

Anyway.

I wrote Latchkey Hero back then, a story that helped me sift through my trauma boxes and fight my demons. And a story that I have missed ever since I’d finished it, with a yearning deep in my soul to return to Kyle and Zofia that I didn’t know how to satisfy.

One thing I tried to wrap my head around was how to turn it into an original novel, but nothing ever quite fit.

Then I played Cyberpunk 2077 and it clicked. I mean it clicked SO HARD, it took me an hour and I had hammered out a concept for how I could reboot Latchkey Hero in a Cyberpunk-lite setting situated right in my own world that I’d built since I was a kid.

Aphelion was born.

I’m never going to pretend Aphelion is anything else than a reboot of a Dying Light Fan Fic. And I am never going to pretend Varrett isn’t 80% Kyle as I’ve written him in Latchkey Hero.

Because that is what I need.

I needed a story where a group of people is faced with unimaginable hardship but doesn’t give up, and Varrett (just like Kyle) gave me that. Live or die trying; it’s one of his (and by extension Aphelion’s) taglines, it’s the foundation on which the story is built.

But~ even as Aphelion took shape, Bad Times Number Three came. It wasn’t just one thing, but a perfect storm that left me battered and grieving. That, ultimately, led me to almost dropping Aphelion right then, convincing me that I was undeserving (of Kyle, of Varrett) and that my integrity was compromised.

Yesterday, I was one more bad night’s sleep away from putting the pen down.

I spent that bad night’s sleep watching the Game Awards. And I caught the Dying Light 2 CGI trailer.

Now I sit here writing this because of a line painted on a fictional wall in a game that isn’t even released yet and that I know very little about because I don’t like getting swept up by the hype.

Now I sit here telling the void that Techland did it again. That, unintentionally, they’ve put the wind back into my sails.

And I’m grateful for that.

Because I need this story. I need it because I need to pay my respects and thank Kyle for what he’s done for me. And giving him a second lease on life in my heart is the least I can do.