Review: Dead Island


If you’re looking for that zombie title with that great emotional story told from the infamous trailer a few months back then I suggest you look elsewhere.

I’m not gonna downplay the game since it isn’t anything like that trailer because I fully knew well that the trailer was used merely as a marketing tool. The story that your going to get with Dead Island isn’t really much of a story at all.

View our final thoughts on Techland’s new IP.

You start off waking up in your hotel room from a night of wild drinking and partying in an already post zombie infected island. While searching for an exit in the hotel you are contacted by a man on the radio. He tells you to get out and that it’s not safe anymore. While escaping you are attacked by a group of infected humans causing you to faint. You then wake up moments later inside a room filled with people ready to kill you. Luckily you are immune to the zombie virus. The man who spoke to you over the radio is outside fending off a group of zombies.

This is where you begin your first combat in the game. After defeating the zombies, the man who saved you introduces himself as Sinamoi. He tells you about another man who has been watching over the island and who told him to rescue you because you’re immune to the virus. Ultimately the main goal of the story is to find out who this man is and in the process survive as long as possible. The game does have a story, but it’s definitely not something that many would consider memorable.

Now the strong point may not be in it’s story, but it certainly is in everything else Dead Island has to offer. What your going to love most about this game is the gameplay and the fact that this isn’t just your normal open-world¬† game. Okay, well it’s like any other open-world game, but I have never played one where I wanted to explore literally every section of the world. Most of your time will be spent exploring the vast land of Banoi. From tropical beaches to deep underground sewage networks, Banoi offers a wide variety of locations; making it a very unique place to explore. Be careful though, because around every corner there’s always a zombie waiting to feast on your flesh.

Dead Island plays in a first-person perspective, but your not really playing a FPS here. Unlike your typical open-world game or FPS, Dead Island makes you as a player choose the decisions that’ll help you survive your long journey. Gameplay focuses mainly on melee weapons. There are guns in the game, but they aren’t that common to find on the island. Each weapon can only be used for a specific amount of time and breaks once it reaches the damage threshold; so choosing the correct weapon is crucial. Otherwise you’ll end up dying many times in brawls against enemies like the Thugs.

Thugs are pretty much like normal zombies except they’re on steroids. Their health is extremely high and they take damage very lightly. So keeping a nice non-damaged weapon at all times should always be considered. By no means is this game easy, but neither is it too hard. It’s really up to you to decide that. What I mean is that your in control of how you want to challenge yourself. If you want an easy approach then taking on one zombie at a time is the ideal way to go. If your looking for a challenge then rushing through a horde of zombies to get their attention is the way to increase that.

After you have finished killing them off you can scavenge their bodies in hopes that you’ll find a new weapon, or some money to use towards upgrading your current weapons. This is exactly how a survival game plays, which makes Dead Island very unique.

Part of the great game-play is the leveling up and crafting system along with the skill tree. Each of the four characters have special skills that they can use.¬† There are plenty of different skills to buy such as: stronger critical strikes, more health, less damage, decoy, more money pick ups, and many more. The only way you can unlock these is by earning skill points through leveling up. Gaining XP in Dead Island isn’t at all that difficult. Completing missions, discovering new places, challenges, trophies, critical strikes, and killing zombies can all earn you XP towards leveling up. You don’t really have to worry about a shortage of quests either, as there are tons of them to keep you busy for a long time.

As for weapons, I have one fault on this system. Like your own skills, weapons can be upgraded, modified, and crafted. Crafting requires specific items in order to build new weapons. Schematics are collectibles that tell you how to make certain weapons. The system is fun, but what’s the point of having it if the weapons themselves just break after a few swings. As I mentioned each weapon can only take a specific amount of damage. Even after I have maxed out my weapons, they always seem to break after a few swings. It seems pointless to me to even bother upgrading the weapon when you will have to fix them moments later.

In order to get the most enjoyment out of Dead Island you will want to try playing online co-op. What could be better then playing a zombie game like this with three other people? It’s a rare thing to come across a sandbox game with 4 player co-op. Even when you do they almost nearly fail at doing it. However, when it comes to Dead Island playing co-op is actually something I strongly suggest doing. Not that the game isn’t enjoyable offline, but the fact that you can play with the story with a full set of friends makes the whole experience so much better.

Not only that, but taking down the stronger enemies become a lot easier, which will save you from the dying, re-spawn, attack, and die again and repeat cycle. This is probably the most enjoyable thing about Dead Island. Players of the same level can literally drop in any time so that they may help each other out. It’s very teamed based unlike many other games and at the same time still requires enough thinking between all players in order to survive larger zombies and hordes.

I kept the graphics and other technical stuff last for a few reasons. The graphics for Dead Island are average at best. At times you’ll notice some poorly done textures and even have to deal with textures streaming for more than a few seconds. The game is also filled with many bugs and some frame-rate issues. The frame rate issue really isn’t that bad as most of the time I didn’t even notice a drop. Some bugs though can be quite annoying and at times require a system restart. For example on one mission I had to kill all the zombies around a garage so that I could upgrade my vehicle. Strangely enough, one of the zombies clipped into the garage making it impossible to finish the mission. Upon doing some research I found out this was a common issue. They can be really random also and at times quite funny. At most times (for me at least) the bugs didn’t do some serious damage that made the game unplayable or caused a restart; other than the instance I covered.

Overall I thought Dead Island was extremely fun and addicting. It does have a few technical issues such as random glitches and texture streaming issues, however I thought Techland did a good job with a new IP.