Dead Island Review
Dead Island is a curious beast. It was surrounded by hype after it’s unforgettable emotionally driven trailer. It had such promise declaring an open world RPG zombie adventure and boasting four person co-op. I was extremely skeptical, and after seeing gameplay videos was intrigued but never sold on the title. But the recommendation from one of my good friends ultimately led me to purchasing Dead Island. I will tell you early into this review I did not like this game, but…but, I am going to give Dead Island the benefit of the doubt because it is a very strong game in certain areas.
Dead Island feels like a mix of many different games, Fallout, Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising and Borderlands. You can feel the heavy influences of these titles, it’s nothing that Dead Island should be ashamed of because it’s one of the games greatest strengths, making it feel familiar while still looking fresh at the same time. When you pick one of the four character classes and enter into the zombie infested island of Banoi you immediately notice that this game looks beautiful. The resort, though in shambles, still appears to be a gorgeous vacation get away. It is truly an open world, spanning over more than four landscapes all dramatically different from the other. Each class has 3 different skill trees to explore, Fury, Combat, and Survival making each play through feel different and gives each character special advantages when playing co-op. And that’s about where my ”likes” for this game end.
I’ve been waiting a week to vent about my frustrations with Dead Island, playing as much and as long as possible so I could beat the game and be over with it. Dead Island is flawed, to put it lightly. Somewhere in this game there is a story, your four extremely cliche characters have some sort of goal besides get off the island, but as you guessed it, even with the terrible cutscenes I never really knew what the story was, and why I was running other peoples errands as quests. Even reaching the end of the game I had no connection to any of the characters, so Techland killing them off meant nothing to me and left me disinterested in continuing with any of the other four main characters. Did I mention there’s a nuclear bomb heading to Banoi? Yeah I didn’t know that until the end cut scene either because the games lack of a solid story line. Many games now have ventured away from ”training” tutorials in favor of a more “real time prologue” tutorial, Dead Island has no tutorial…at all. You wake up and have no instructions on how to do anything. I had no idea until Chapter 10 that I could dodge left/right/and backwards, it was never told to me, I did it on accident. And that’s the way the game is, sending you off to high school in hand me down clothes and asking you to get beat up by the school bully. The classes and skill trees are very creative, but without any prior knowledge on how the game works your choosing skills blindly and hoping they improve your character. And with no respec option, I unfortunately chose Purna, an ex-police officer, who’s specialty is guns. What the game doesn’t tell you is you don’t get any ammo until you reach the jungle in Chapter 6 or 7. So that means I have all these skills that make me better with guns, yet I have no guns to use? Purna also, like another zombie slayer by the name of Jill Valentine, is a master of unlocking. She has the choice to put 3 skills into lockpicking letting you open numerous locked chests throughout each level and hope they have some rare weapon in them. The lockpick skill is worthless, weapons from the chest are weak and a majority of the time they’re found empty…EMPTY!!! Needless to say my character was essentially worthless throughout all of the city chapters, zombies would walk through every weapon I hit them with like I was whipping them with a branch. I died often and spawned right near the 6 zombies that killed me, leaving me to die again. And that’s only the bad…
Dead Island is broken. I don’t know what drives certain companies to release a game broken and hope that an early patch will fix all their problems. And how did Techland even release a developer copy to Steam? How does that happen? That should have been the first warning that this game was not going to work the way it was supposed to. Dead Island is filled with infuriating flaws, I’m not talking zombies who hit you through doors, occasionally falling through the ground, or empty chests. Those I can deal with, I’m talking about game altering and character affecting glitches. Because there isn’t a “save” option, you’re left to wander around until you see the auto save icon pop up, but most of the time that’s not a real save as I soon found out after many of my quests I completed were back in my quest log as unfinished the next time I hopped into my game. I had to redo numerous quests because of this flaw. Quests reappear magically while your favorite weapons disappear right in front of you. Every time a weapon is thrown you’re taking a gamble. You think your creating and upgrading a super weapon at a workstation, congratulations here’s your medium med kit. These glitches happen, I can’t make this stuff up. And I’m going to close The Ugly with one story that sunk this game into my hated pile. I had just received a very high damage machete as a quest reward, I was slashing through zombies like a pro, and decided to throw a propane tank at a group of 6 unsuspecting zombies. The glorious explosion that the tank emitted was apparently too epic for the game to handle. The screen froze, and I stood there stunned as I could hear my body being ripped to shreds. I quickly turned off the system with hopes of escaping the pandemonium unharmed. That was not the case as I restarted my game $10k light and missing my bad ass machete. An angel lost it’s wings that day.
All is not lost for Dead Island, the game is a shining example of fun drop in/drop out cooperatively play. In all reality, maybe Techland wanted there to be a lack of tutorials, or degrading worthless weapons. Swarms of zombies will kill you, finding food is lifesaving, you need to know when to run and when to fight, and the more people you have the more likely you’ll survive. I think Techland nailed the tension that is supposed to be felt in a zombie apocalypse, I just wish they could have given it to me in a cleaner less broken form. For a game so strong in co-op play and begging to have unending replay value, Dead Island is stagnant and not exciting or interesting enough for me to continue through a second time. I’m flying off the island, and staying off.
Dead Island scores a C.
Latest posts by Burke (see all)
- Xbox One Impressions - May 21, 2013
- Good Reads: Lady Sif in Journey into Mystery - May 19, 2013
- 4A Games Developers Work Conditions Like Other Ukrainian Work Conditions - May 16, 2013