I haven’t seen a game receive this many polarizing review scores in a very long time. Reviewers either love Techland’s Dead Island or absolutely hate it; there aren’t many with opinions inbetween.

To be honest, I really don’t know what I think about Dead Island yet. I’m only a few hours in, but I’m already finding it difficult to overlook many of its glaring flaws. The concept is what brought me to the Dead Island. An open world focused on survival and beating the crap out of zombies with random close quarters weapons is impossible for me to resist.

So far, Dead Island’s graphics and feel remind me of Far Cry 2’s muddy jungle foliage textures and awkward controls. They’re really hit or miss; some areas of Benoi look utterly beautiful but others are beyond ugly. In regard to controls, walking around feels terribly floaty and unresponsive. The more I continue to play though, the more I’m getting used to its somewhat wonky control scheme. Don’t get me started on driving vehicle though, it’s terrible.

I’ve heard a lot about how satisfying it is to beat the crap out of Zombie’s in this game. So far I haven’t experienced this; every blunt or sharp weapon seems to react the exact same way as you smash them into various Zombie’s bodies. Combat would be much more fun if you could actually hit zombies in a specific direction. I know the games alternate analog control scheme allows you to do this, it just makes the game impossibly difficult. I’m hoping that as I progress through Dead Island and gather more unique weapons, its combat system will become more interesting.

If you get assaulted by a mob of zombies (this will happen many times), be prepared to wail away at your controller’s right trigger, lashing out in every direction, hoping you’re somehow going to survive – most of time you won’t. That brings me to another gripe I have with Dead Island: you die far too often and there really isn’t a meaningful penalty for it (you lose cash but that’s it). This ruins the fighting for survival feeling that I thought would be a major feature of Dead Island.

Picture this: you’re sneaking around the resort and randomly run into a mob of zombies, you know that you might die but it doesn’t really matter. If these zombies maul the crap out of you and you fall to the ground in a pool of your own blood, don’t worry, you’ll respawn again seven seconds later. For me, this ruins the feeling of tension so many reviewers are raving about.

Dead Island seems like it’s designed to play with friends, but so far I’ve found its co-op mode very awkward. It’s difficult to tackle the same mission as your co-op partners. Each of you must individually select that specific task from your quest menu. The fact that you still see all of your party members in every cut scene even if you’re playing solo, also detracts from Dead Islands supposedly high  immersion factor.

On a more postitive note, I’ve just entered the game’s third act and my opinion is slowly starting to change. Running around the city is a very much needed change of pace. My co-op partner and I spent most of our time avoiding the  infected, attempting to stay on the city’s rooftops in order to make it to our destination. Hopefully, my experience with Dead Island continues to improve. I understand that Dead Island is a very flawed game and that in order to enjoy it, I need to focus on what it does right and not what it gets wrong, but I’m finding it extremely hard to ignore these issues. Dead Island has so much potential, it’s disappointing that Techland didn’t spend a little more time polishing it before release.

As many reviewers have stated, Dead Island is an extremely deep game, but in order to get to the awesomeness you need to bear through the awful.

One of GameJudgment’s other authors, Nicholas Mastrodicasa, likes Dead Island a lot. Check out  his thoughts on the game at this link.

  1. Buck Fast says:

    try analog controls… and look for a big splitting axe.

    • I found the games analog controls amazingly awkward, I could barely progress through the game when I had them enabled. I gave it some time to, I think I played with that control scheme for about 2 hour or so but I never got used to it.

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