When the first Dead Island came out in late 2011, it was quite a sleeper hit. The zombie genre was starting to get pretty tired out, but the quality that came out with this game was refreshing. This was at a time when the survival horror genre really needed a substantial pick-me-up, and Dead Island delivered quite well in this. Over a year and a half later since the first game’s release, we have another title to move the series to the next level.
The same addictive gameplay is still there, letting you bash and shoot zombies for experience points. When you run out of ammo or break your weapon, you then have to run away from the variety of zombie enemies you’re up against, most slow and some fast. No weapon lasts long enough to let you go like the Spartans did in Thermopylae, so you have to get new ones and stay relatively healthy if you don’t want to rest your weary character as you get from point A to B. If you’re playing this in a harder difficulty setting, then you better know where to run and hide, preferably with a supply of energy drinks to replenish your health. There are also some more interesting weapons to play with, which is always a good thing.
The story takes place immediately after the end of Dead Island, where we find our intrepid reluctant heroes having escaped the zombie-infested island of Banoi. However, unlike the previous game, where much of the story was driven by the various characters that you get to play, this one has less of that. There’s no real plot to speak of, and the same characters from the first game don’t seem to have as much of an impact at this point. They’ve just survived whatever the hell they went through in Banoi and are now known to have the ability to come up against whatever else they have to go through with much less difficulty. There is much less tension, although they still have to go by their wits in canon.
In terms of visuals, nothing much has changed since it looks almost exactly the same as the old game, engine and all. There seems to be no change as well in other parts of the game, including the gameplay mechanics. It’s still the same first person fare with the same skills and , It just has a new story to carry it over, which isn’t enough. It’s not a bad game per se, but the price for a whole new game just to play basically the same game is not very good.
They had about a year and a half between the first Dead Island and this one to add more meat into the gameplay, but it seems that they barely did anything. Maybe there are a couple of bells and whistles thrown in for good measure, but they’re still not enough to rightfully call this a new game worth breaking out the wallet for. Perhaps that’s why they didn’t name it Dead Island 2 since there weren’t to be much technical overhauls involved in the making of this one. But then again, there was the Ryder White DLC, which meant that this particular game could’ve been done as a DLC as well anyway, despite the length of the campaign. The lack of new gameplay features does not justify the need for a new standalone game, despite the time gap.
Maybe first time players will pick up Riptide as their introduction to the series, but they would then play the first one and say that they should’ve went for that first instead. In any case, perhaps it’s a way to get new fans anyway. If you’re a fan of the first game and interested of a new setting and story, then you can get this game and enjoy just like you did with the first game back in 2011.
It’s definitely not as bad as this year’s zombie game travesty that was The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. In fact, it’s still a pretty good game; there was no doubting the quality at all. If you can’t get past the fact that there’s nothing new here, then just reinstall Dead Island and get relatively the same gameplay experience anyway. But if you really have to get this game, then wait for a sale or find some way to get it really cheap.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 7/10