Posted September 11, 2011 by Derek Vicente in Gaming


The survival horror genre basically has used zombies as the primary targets of the player’s frustration and enemies of their psychological trauma, in response to great shock or fear. Zombies are scary, are hard to kill, and literally attack in packs, which really set the tone for survival. However, surviving a zombie apocalypse has declined a bit, and personally I blame that on the releases of Dead Rising and other zombie-survival titles depleted with genuine scare tactics, acidic lunges, and asphyxiating terror that will give us reason to turn on the lights.

Although Dead Island has failed to make zombies the most feared characters of gaming, the game; however, succeeded in fulfilling 2011’s wishlist for survival games, in general – re-create an exciting, pulsating experience of survival’s amenities. So far, Dead Island is the prettiest game that I have played, and the gore fest, decorated with tidal waves of blood and visceral combat, sets the tone for players who want to leave the island resort of Banoi in one piece.

Survive… with a few help from workbenches and baggage loot
The game pretty much revolves around the island of Banoi – a rich, lustrous resort inhabited by some of the world’s richest people. Until recently, after the zombie infestation, Banoi was described as an “untamed paradise veiled from civilization’s harsh reach. Players get to experience the island’s majestic views – from sandy white beaches to rocky hedges, it is somewhat disappointing that Banoi has become a breeding nest for zombies awaiting for any survivors in hiding around the resort.

Players get to choose from four available characters namely: Xian Mei, Logan, Purna, and Sam B. Each the survivors has their own way of dispatching zombies in quick, delicious fashion. For instance, Xian Mei is an edged weapon specialist, which allows her to incur damage with knives, cleaver, machetes, and slicers effectively. Additionally, Purna is the trigger-happy of the group (guns are VERY limited, so conserve ammunition wisely), Sam B knocks zombies out with disheveled canoe paddles or nail hammers with deadly repercussions, and Logan hurls opponents with a wide selection of throwing weapons.

Players are given a vast range of choices on how to kill zombies through the help of workbenches. Basically, the workbench serves as the catalyst for upgrading cheap knives into deadly, backstabbing tools. Anything scavenged within the territories of the resort can be used to dispatch of enemies without players having to pick up items subsequently. A far-fetched combination of knives with explosive devices is just icing on the cake; players can enjoy a myriad of customization options, printed on blueprints cleverly hidden around Banoi’s abandoned facilities.

Additionally, workbenches are also important waypoints, in which players can upgrade or repair their favorite weapons. These cost money, but the island is rich reservoir of resources like money, parts, and miscellaneous spoils that can help players navigate the treacherous coasts of Banoi with ease.

Stay away from the Butcher, if you want to live!
Just like Left 4 Dead, Dead Island is occupied by different class of zombies capable of hurting the player in different ways. For instance, the Infected, a swift berseker rushes toward the player, taking them out with quick, unrelenting strikes. The Walker, a slower version of the Infected, may lack the speed and footwork, but their numbers more than make up for such drawbacks. Walkers are cooperative, more organized hunters that gingerly approach players or can be seen “playing dead” while soaked in their own filthy, infected blood.

The Butcher, by far, is the most dangerous type of zombie that can cripple and distract the player’s attention with their lightning-fast reflexes. An Infected on steroids, the Butcher is capable of diminishing the player’s health bar faster than three of four Walkers combined. Watch out for them!

Killing Zombies 101
Dead Island is third-person survival game fused with elements of role-playing. There is a level-up system and a skill tree, which players are free to explore depending on their style. The four survivors assume an integral role anchored on their weapon specialties. I have chosen Xian Mei for my first play through, and she can a few limbs here and there with her propensity with sharp weapons. Xian Mei is also gifted with a rush of temporary adrenaline that allows her to execute zombies with lethal accuracy.

Experience are gained from completing main quests, finishing sidequests and continuous events (the Nectar of Life quest from survivor Kim is a good way to earn some cash and cheap experience), and killing zombies with weapons, bare knuckles, or vehicles littered on the island’s roads.

Fear is not a factor
Dead Island is not a scary game. Unlike Resident Evil where the howling of winds and pitter-pattering of footsteps are enough to send us whimpering in a corner or Fatal Frame’s perfected mastery of fear with bone-chilling sound effects and spooky poltergeists drawn from the image of the fabled Japanese yurei, Dead Island disappoints generally in instilling fear or sudden jolts of surprise. Although the shrieks of the Infected and sneak attacks insinuated by pathetic Walkers are enough to take you out of your seats.

Final Verdict

Graphics: 10
Dead Island is the prettiest game I’ve played so far. The level of realism is so convincing that it felt like checking in at an island resort for free. The mountain range backdrops, detailed splashes, swaying of grass and trees, the consistent movement of the clear, blue skies are just fantastic! Exploring is a never a chore in Dead Island since I can personally experience the opulence of a first-class island resort turned zombie den for hours.

Gameplay: 9.5
Killing has never been this satisfying. I have the freedom to direct my character’s growth, imbue or upgrade weapons, detour away from the main quest and accept sidequests on a note ornamented with tiny droplets of blood, and ram zombies with a pickup truck. I have also yet to experience any glitches or graphical hiccups considering how expansive the island of Banoi is.

Sound: 8
The Who Do You Voodoo rap music from Sam B is perhaps the only flaw on Dead Island. The lack of musical sidetracks and above-average voice acting from the NPCs are tolerable and forgivable. In fact, you won’t notice these minor concerns in your stay at Banoi.

Replay Value: 9
Expansive, rich in content, and customization that enables you to experiment with key findings. The game rewards those who explore with an eagle’s eye and everything is random from unlocking a chest to unzipping bags.

Final Score: 9/10

Derek Vicente

Derek has been with Flipgeeks for almost three years. His first video game was Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Saturn and after blowing their television set after playing too much Rambo, he has set on a journey to play some of the best (and worst) role-playing games ever spawned. He recently completed Wild Arms 2 without any cheat codes.