So you’ve got a zombie game in the works with some interesting ideas and an emphasis on melee combat. Sure, it may not have the best voice actors in town or triple A polish, but it hits the ground running and generates a bit of a cult following. Despite the flaws, you rack up some solid reviews and actually manage to turn a profit. Three cheers! So you do what any developer would in this situation: make a sequel. But do you A). Learn from your mistakes and strive to create a newer and better title with innovative design elements? Or B). Slap a texture pack on the original, shove it on the market and then sit there like a mute when fans cry foul? Well if you’re Techland you go for option B.
Welcome to the confusing world of Dead Island: Riptide, a game that’s equal parts good and bad and comes with a hefty dose of “wait, didn’t I do this two years ago?” You could be forgiven for mistaking Riptide for a piece of DLC. It looks, plays and even feels like the 2011 original, just on a smaller scale. I can’t recall seeing a single advertisement for the title in the build-up to release. In fact, I didn’t even know of the game’s existence till a store clerk haphazardly asked me if I wanted to pre-order a copy, to which I replied, “you having yourself a giggle mate?”
Indeed, aside from the collector’s edition torso/bust controversy, it practically flumped onto store shelves with barely a whimper. But now that the veil has been lifted and I’ve spent some time circling the Riptide, I can dispel the rumours and confidently say that Techland have not lifted a finger to correct the mistakes of the past with this title. You could, literally, copy paste a review of the original Dead Island in this space and call it a day. In fact, I’m tempted to do just that to see if anyone notices. But in the interest of accurate journalism, I’ll break this down for your amusement.
Riptide kicks off where the original left off – our group of survivors have just escaped the original island, but, shock and horror, they’re immediately shipwrecked on a different island and set upon by Blood Dragons. Er… I mean zombies. Creative! So you take command, reprising your role as one of the previous survivors or jumping into the skin of the new brawler, and set to work. From there on out you’ll be smashing skulls and completing a seemingly endless stream of fetch quests.
Each kill/quest competition nets you experience points, which levels up your character and allow you to unlock new active and passive abilities. Much like the original, visceral, in-your-face, melee combat is the order of the day in Riptide and zombies are layered on thick. It’s a perfect title for those who want to jump online with a few friends and let loose with reckless abandon. Combat is gritty and has a nice sense of weight to it. From the first time you clonk a zombie in the head right through to the last, you’ll enjoy that satisfying bludgeoning feeling. But that’s, roughly, where the praise ends.
For everything Dead Island: Riptide gets right, there are half a dozen things niggling at the sides. The story is ridiculous, voice acting is terrible, gameplay is glitchy, quests often bug out and you’ll see about as many graphical errors as you will zombies. And all of these problems could be somewhat forgiven, if they weren’t the exact same complications found in the original. It’s somewhat baffling to me that Techland would work to rush out a sequel but not even attempt to correct blaring issues.
Don’t get me wrong, Riptide isn’t broken. Its gory fun for you and your friends and it will last for damn near 20 hours. But, if it wasn’t already painfully clear, it’s the same shit we experienced back in 2011 and I’m simply not willing to let the issues slide this time. Rather than create a new game Techland have, literally, given Dead Island a new hat and put ‘Riptide’ in the title. Much like the original, it can be a lot of fun when played with a couple of friends – the co-op elements basically save the game from being immediately tossed in the bargain bin.
- Reviewed On