Dead Island Review

Dead Island, a game brought to you by Techland and Deep Silver, may seem like a bit of a gaming Frankenstein at first. If you pulled open world exploration from Fallout 3, weapon crafting from Dead Rising, Zombie Hordes and cooperative play from Left 4 Dead, weapons looting from Borderlands, and skill trees, XP progression, and the amount of quests from World of Warcraft, you would get a final product that is pretty close to what Dead Island is. Despite having elements that appear in all of these games, Dead Island manages to make a name for itself and stand in its own light.

The Good

The gameplay is balanced. It is played in first person, where melee combat is the norm, and weapons like guns normally come in second. RPG elements abound in this game as well in the form of the skill tree, quests, and experience system. Although one of the main topics throughout the game is survival, Dead Island is more than just a survival horror game. It’s a very open-world sandbox, where the player can explore at a whim, and play the game the way they want to play it. There is an immense amount of weapons to choose from throughout the game, each of them with their own stats (handling, durability, damage, etc.). In addition to being difference in stats and appearance, you can also upgrade these weapons, making them even more badass and increasing certain stats. Throughout the game, you will find collectible “mods” with which you can make your weapons the ultimate slaying tools.

There is nothing more satisfying to me than being able to hack of a zombie’s head with one swing of a machete. The combat in the game is amazingly gruesome, even going into slow motion during critical hits at times to show you every grisly, morbid detail of a zombie’s head being separated from its neck.

The cooperative gameplay is amazing. There is nothing that I have enjoyed more in this game than running around with my friends to complete quests or kick some zombie ass. The zombies scale to the level of the host of the game, so the zombies are at a bit of an unfair advantage if you join a lower level game when you are level 30. This doesn’t affect the experience gain for the host player, but higher level characters in a low level game will get little to no experience.

The multiplayer joining system is also a plus. You can either set your game to a set amount of private slots for which to invite your friends to fill, or you can leave it open where anybody can jump in your game at any time. Additionally, if a player is around the same point in the story as you and around the same level, a notification will show up on the screen. With just a click of a button, you can leave from playing solo to jumping into a game with someone you’ve never met before. Who knows, maybe you’ll become friends.

The audio and voice acting for the zombies are phenomenal. From the heart-stopping screams of an Infected, to the haunting sound of a Suicider pleading for help, the zombies are absolute gold. Paired with chilling and eerie silences, these are sounds that will stay with you and haunt you in your dreams.

The Bad

Let’s start with the story. The setting is the beautiful (and fictional, might I add) island of Banoi, which is located off the coast of Papua, New Guinea. It is also the location of the Royal Palms Resort and the city of Moresby. With the exception of these two locations, most of the island has been untouched by the modern world and still remains wild and untamed. You can select from four characters to play: Sam B, Purna, Logan, and Xian. Each character has his or her own backstory, but their pasts do not come into play in the game. The game starts with your character waking up in the Royal Palms Resort only to find evacuation warnings going off and your floor deserted. Littered about are suitcases, like everyone was trying to get away. You soon find out that some mysterious outbreak has taken the island by storm, turning people into violent, flesh-eating zombies. Strangely, your character (and the other three that you did not select) is immune to whatever is infecting everyone. As you try to find a way to escape from the zombie-infested island, you find more survivors and take on quests for them, as well as eventually find out what happened on the once beautiful island that has now become hell on earth. The story itself is straightforward, shallow, and isn’t entirely immersive, but the shortcomings of the lack of story are made up by the gameplay and the cooperative experience.

The characters of the game are extremely lackluster. There’s not much feeling put into the voice acting, nor is there much diversity between the backstory of the characters. The males are both trying to make it back in the limelight – Sam B. being a one-hit wonder, and Logan being a former NFL quarterback – and both females are involved with law enforcement and trying to prove their worth in jobs that are mostly male dominated.

Additionally, the music is very sparse, and for those of you who thoroughly enjoy a game’s soundtrack like I do, it was a bit of a downside. Music can often improve the setting, entice emotions, and more. There were times during the game that sounded empty without music, but I can see what Techland was going for with the silences, as detailed in “The Good” above.

Playing solo is probably one of the weakest aspects of the game. Since zombies are scaled to your level, it can often be hard to take on a mob of several zombies at once, especially when they are accompanied by a Thug, Floater, Ram, or Suicider.

The Ugly

There are several flaws with the game. The game has sported several glitches throughout my gameplay. From items disappearing, quest trackers on the minimap going the wrong direction, survivors I’m supposed to escort getting stuck in the landscape, and getting killed by kicking a beach ball, there were a lot of things that it seemed like Techland forgot to polish off. In addition, the game does not always save my progress where I’m supposed to be, making it tedious when I have to redo a quest that I finished earlier that day.

Another factor that a lot of people will bring up is the similarities between Dead Island and other games. The different types of enemies in the game are dangerously close to those in Left 4 Dead. The Floater can easily be identified with the Spitter, the Suicider with the Boomer, the Ram with the Tank, and the Infected with the Charger. However, when dealing with zombie horror, it’s hard not to draw from other things. If you look at movies, how many times has a zombie scenario been repeated in several different movies?

In Closing…

Despite the flaws that Dead Island has, it is a game that provides hours of fun, different challenges, and an excuse to hack off some zombie limbs with your friends. Welcome to Banoi. Enjoy the bloodshed.

Originally posted by Danni Cherie at