Escaping the norm.
Dead Island appeared to take the world by storm; much like a zombie virus does in all its fictional glory. When Deep Silver published the first trailer that tugged on players’ hearts everywhere, people took notice. The final product was anything but emotional, and instead was a fun, 4 player first person co-op zombie game with blood, guts and tons of loot. Fast forward to today, and we have a spin off called Escape Dead Island launching on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. Is it more of the same game play we have come to love, or simply a dead man walking?
In the game, players control Cliff, a young man with a penchant for taking pictures and who obviously comes off as a “douche”. Taking place 6 months after the events in Dead Island, Cliff and his friends are on their way to another island that they hear might have some answers to what exactly occurred. It’s an interesting premise for the player, and ironically the plot and mystery is one of the biggest things that will keep players going forward. Whereas the story elements were nothing to write home about previously, here they really are one of the highlights, as not everything is exactly as it seems.
Platforms: PS3, 360, PC
Time to beat: 6 – 8 hours
Multiplayer : NA
Price I would pay: 39.99
The two biggest things noticed right off the bat are the graphical style and game play perspective. Unlike Dead Island and Riptide, Escape features a nice, cell shaded, cartoon comic look. Colors are vibrant and filled with comic style words that highlight specific actions in the game. Hit an enemy and see a satisfying blood affect along with the words KRUCH. It’s a style seen in other games before, but it still comes off refreshing here. The second biggest difference is the perspective. Here we have a third person view, giving the player more view of their surroundings.
Game play is mostly melee based, much like the prior games, but on a more simplistic level. As players explore this fairly linear island, Cliff comes across a small variety of different zombies. Enemies can be locked on, dodged, and then pushed back and attacked to dismember them. Bring an enemy down before they die and the player can execute them. Exploring the island, opening up new pathways with Cliff’s upgrades feels good, if not a bit limited. The combat is easy enough, and works for the most part during the duration of the campaign, and he receives a few upgrades and guns along the way but still, dealing with the same style of action the entire game brings up a few rough spots along the way.
While combat is easy enough to get into, it never really changes up or varies. So even though Cliff might have a new axe or club, the same patterns apply: light attack, heavy attack, dodge, push, repeat. If the game offered a way to upgrade weapons a bit more or even perhaps a light RPG system to upgrade Cliff along the way with new moves, things could have been a bit more varied. While combat is easy and effective, later the game throws out a massive amount of enemies, more specifically the harder enemies that can bring Cliff down extremely easy. This leads to repeated retries, and with un-skippable real time cut scenes, can lead to frustration.
Escape Dead Island was a surprise for me. For a budget title and a spinoff of the series, it’s way better than it should be. Combat was satisfying, exploration was fun, the insanity effects were a trip and the story reaches a point that literally had me questioning not only what was happening, but why Cliff himself was slowly breaking down mentally. The combat and enemy encounters can get repetitive, and frustrating moments towards the end can be a bit of a bummer. The game has a brisk pace and only lasts around 6-8 hours, so the first go won’t last more than a weekend at most. Yet, with one of the most inventive ways of starting a new game +, players might just find themselves jumping right back into the island for another vacation.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.