Dead Island: Riptide is the latest zombie horror survival apocalypse game to be developed by Techland, published by Deep Silver, and distributed by Square Enix. It is also a direct sequel to the original Dead Island.
The game picks up right where you last left off as you land on a military freighter and are immediately dropped into chaos as the ship runs aground on the island of Palanai. The voice acting at the beginning of the game is pretty bad; like something you’d see out of a B-list horror movie, (read: every horror movie) but towards the middle of the game they seem to get their foot in the door with some decent voice acting. The story itself is thinner than rice paper, giving you no real interest in the characters, but where the cut-scenes lack any real depth, you can find recording and diary collectibles which dive deeper into the story much like games such as BioShock do with their collectibles which seems to promote more emotion in the game than the actual story.
But that’s not what this is about. Riptide is about surviving the hoards of zombies on the island while leveling up your skills and upgrading your weapons. The gameplay is just as fun as the original while upping the difficulty and adding four new types of zombies. These new hellions include the Screamer, an enemy who will incapacitate you for a couple seconds making you vulnerable to attacks from the other infected. There’s also the Drowner, who will wait, floating motionless in the water until his unsuspecting victim is within his grasp.
Riptide also adds a new leveling system for each fighting style in addition to the character leveling from the previous game. Within each of the four main types of combat, (melee, heavy weapons, bladed weapons, and firearms) you can now make each weapon better without even taking it to a workbench by gaining the perks for each set of weapons. However, rest assured that the best way to make your weapons effective is to spend the cash to upgrade and slap a mod on the thing. After that, you’re ready to go brutalize some undead hoards. And while you can import your character from the first Dead Island to get a head start on your skill tree, the level cap has been raised to seventy, so you’ll still have plenty of experience to gain and new skills to acquire.
Although Dead Island: Riptide is not as graphically stunning as, say, Battlefield 3, it still holds it’s own and slightly improves on the graphics of the previous Dead Island game. The landscape looks absolutely beautiful once you get past those unsettling corpses and blood stains everywhere. Still, the characters all seem to have some serious issues with hair and eye movement, to the point that they almost look like they were programmed ten years ago. Ultimately, the zombies look like zombies, and that’s what everyone cares about, plus with the amount of time you spend with other characters outside of cut-scenes, their facial problems shouldn’t be too much of a concern for you.
So what did we like about the game? Being able to play with your friends is always a plus, and the co-op was greatly improved with new spotting features. These allow you to show your partner certain items to pick up, certain monsters to kill, and even where to go. Not to mention that pretty much every other feature that was added is absolutely fantastic, including a new playable character, changing weather, and further advancements to the skill tree. The new character John Morgan specializes in hand-to-hand combat, and has a devastating kick that will send enemies flying.
How about the bad? Well when it rains, it pours. Though Riptide adds many new features to the game, it fails to address most of the old issues that plagued the original Dead Island, and as stated earlier the dialogue and voice acting isn’t all that great. Riptide is also littered with areas that seem to be copied and pasted from the original game. And then there’s the infuriating. I personally had my game freeze over and over again, but it would only happen on one mission, and only while playing co-op. When I looked to remedy the situation, I found that many other players were having similar problems with another mission while on single player. There are also certain areas that will instantly re-spawn infected after you have killed them. However I must commend Techland on their ability to fit what seems like thousands of zombies into a single building.
Overall, Dead Island: Riptide improves over the original in many respects, but fails to address even more problems. The game gets everything about a zombie game right, but it still falls a couple points shy of being great. A zombie game shouldn’t be about the story, it should be about slaying thousands of mindless freaks with anything and everything you pick up off the streets, but when you try to make the story important, it needs to grip the audience and make them feel like their actions mean something. This is something Dead Island: Riptide doesn’t do very well, which is a shame because this game is still loads of fun to play.