Announced in 2006, it’s been nearly five years for Dead Island to finally be released. By taking elements and queues from other games, Techland hopes to achieve the ultimate zombie survival game. Giving players the freedom and cooperative experience that other zombie games fail to give. So should you book your stay on Dead Island? Or should you check-in somewhere else? Find out in this review of Dead Island.
Dead Island is set on a fictional island called Banoi. Banoi was once a peaceful island till the night that changed the lives of many. A mysterious virus outbreak has been released and zombies soon overrun the island. After one of four main characters wake up in their hotel room, they must learn to survive and escape this nightmare. The overall story is basically quite simple and unoriginal. The story does feel like a B-rated movie as a whole. The four main characters each have a back story when the player is choosing their character. Sadly, their back story is completely forgotten during the course of the whole main storyline. Overall, the plot of the story is thin and quite predictable.
Dead Island is a first person horror action adventure. Dead Island is made up of an open world, RPG elements, cooperative and a major focus on melee weaponry. Before all of that the player has to pick from one of four main characters. The player can choose Xian Mei, Sam B, Logan, or Purna. All four of these characters have their own set of abilities and skills. Xian Mei is good with blade weapons and the assassin of the group. Sam B is the blunt weapon expert and the tank of the group. Logan is the throwing master and jack of all trades guy. Purna is the firearms expert and the leader of the group. Once the character has been selected the game can finally begin.
Banoi is a big island to explore with multiple locations. Ranging from the sunny beaches of Banoi and the surrounding resort, to the city and jungles that Banoi has to offer. Players will find themselves exploring every inch of the island before moving on to the next section. The whole island is basically divided up into different sections, instead of being one huge island. These section are not small either, they are quite huge with a lot of variety. It also helps to keep focus on the mission at hand and to avoid unnecessary back tracking.
The RPG elements of Dead Island are barrowed from different types of RPG games. Players will gain experience points to level up their character and once leveled up the player can soon spend a skill point on the skill tree. As basic as leveling up can get there is more RPG elements within. Players can take on a variety of missions that he/she can gain rewards and EXP. These mission ranges from getting a certain item to said person, lending a helping hand, gathering and go to point A to point B. These missions do have variety to a certain limit, but more or less hit the typical MMO type of missions. Overall, the RPG elements are traditional as it can get.
Dead Island also houses its own elements to keep the suspense going. Players will have a stamina bar, meaning that players must choose to attack wisely or their character will be tired out and can be easily knocked down. The stamina bar is used by swing weapons, running, jumping, dodging and using their curb stomp. Also the players will have to watch out for their health, if you die the player will lose 10% of their money. Players will also have flashlight to light the many dark areas during the course of the game. It also features a weather system, whereby the weather will change on a regular base for a few sections. Sadly, there is no day or night cycle. Players have the ability to fast travel to different sections of the game that they have unlocked during the course of the story.
So what about the combat in Dead Island? The combat is the mix of both melee combat and gun play. Melee combat has a heavy focus here, with the ability to customize your weapons. Nearly every single weapon in the game can be customized to be even more deadly than before. Players can make flaming axes, electric baseball bats, poisoned samurai swords, and explosive guns. There is much more customized weapons than that for the player to experiment with. Gun play has a big role during sequences of human on human fighting. When facing multiple human enemies, gun play will always be a must. Customized weapons can be fun to experiment with, but the actually combat can be repetitive and mediocre. Slicing and bashing zombies is fun and all, but there is the point where that this formula does get boring.
Co-op is a big deal in Dead Island. Instead of playing the boring story by yourself, you can experience it with friends. Dead Island supports up 4 players online, with no option to play split screen. Dead Island felt like it was meant to be played with friends. It makes the experience that much enjoyable. You can explore, fight zombies, do missions, and finish the story and more with friends on Dead Island. With more players come more challenges, because the enemies gain power with the number of players in the room. Overall, Dead Island has got the cooperative aspect down.
Everything might look sunny on Banoi, but there are some dark sides of Banoi. There are collectibles in the game. These collectibles vary from audio recordings, documents and ID cards. Sadly, these collectibles are nothing more than trophy/achievement progression. The audio recordings do have something to tell about the story, but the documents and ID cards don’t display anything or provide additional information on the misfortune.
There are some questionable things about Dead Island. Dead Island feels too easy and doesn’t offer much of a challenge. Everything can easily be overcome and the survival aspect is completely tossed out. The island of Banoi is littered with Energy drinks to keep the players health up and items respawn into their original place rather quickly. The suspense that Dead Island has to offer is thin when it comes to these issues and more. A hardcore setting would have been nice to up the challenge and more.
Overall, Dead Island is a simple game that everyone would enjoy. It may not be fun playing solo, but really enjoyable once you have friends to play with. The island of Banoi is a big place with many locations to explore, loot, level up, and more. Sadly, the game never felt too much of a challenge and that the combat was too repetitve. A hardcore setting would have been nice to up the challenge. Combat is satisfying with the experimentation of customization. Gameplay elements may have been barrowed ideas from other games, but Dead Island still makes it work for itself.
Graphics of Dead Island can be a mixed bagged. The engine is the same engine that was used in Call of Juarez: The Cartel, The Chrome 5 engine. This time around it’s a lot better to look at. The environments are detailed and great to look at. The characters models on the other hand look creepy, but do have variety depending on the sections of the game. The zombies come in a good variety too and have a feature whereby their skin gets cut for their arms, legs, or head to be chopped off or broken bones to be less effective in combat. There are problems of slow-down, screen tearing, pop-on, freezing, and more when the action gets too heavy for the game to process. The VO is your standard stereotypes with bad to decent voice acting for the many different characters in the game. Most of the time players will hear more of the characters breathing when they are running, which can get annoying, repetitive, and losses most of the atmosphere tone. The sounds of zombies roaring in the distance to the whack of a blunt weapon hitting a zombie in the face are done quite well. The soundtrack for the game isn’t much, but sets a good atmosphere and tone for the whole game.
Dead Island is a good game that offers a good experience with friends. The story of Dead Island is thin and unoriginal with a simple plot that can easily be discovered within few hours of gameplay. Even the four main characters feel one dimensional when it comes to the story and situations. The gameplay side of Dead Island fairs better with mechanics and elements barrowed from other games to make Dead Island an enjoyable experience. A big open-world, RPG elements, cooperative play, and customization are all part of Dead Island experience, whereby all these elements make the game work. Sadly, Dead Island feels shallow from time to time with standard boring missions, worthless collectibles, a poor challenge, repetitive combat and post-game content. Presentation wise, Dead Island is a huge step in the right direction, where Call of Juarez: The Cartel took a misstep (also from Techland). Banoi’s environments have a good variety and gorgeous detail. The character models could have been better to look at, but have a good variety in both human and zombie models. Dead Island has a good atmosphere and tone with the sounds and soundtracks that it provides, but the voice acting can terrible to downright laughable with addition to the amount of over-breathing that the character’s dish out. Overall, Dead Island is a great try on zombie survival games and if you have friends to play with it’s worth the co-op experience.
FINAL VERDICT: 3/5