When I played the original Dead Island, I was both intrigued and a bit frustrated, with the premise of the game and with its faults. At the same time, I found myself enjoying it quite a bit and when it was all said and done, I was able to overlook its flaws and say, “this was fun.”
With Dead Island: Riptide, it’s a lot of the same thing, albeit with a few new wrinkles, though still far from perfect.
Dead Island: Riptide introduces a new island, by which our survivors of the first game meet a new character on a ship that ultimately goes down and leaves us on said new island, which of course, is filled with zombies who want nothing more than to eat your face for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. The plot doesn’t get much deeper than this really, but that can be overlooked if only because the zombie killing and beatdowns are entertaining, all while providing a slightly more balanced experience.
After our survivors get an unexpected type of greeting on the ship, which they thought was their way to safety, they find themselves handcuffed and in a cell, where they meet John Morgan, who is a brawler that is also immune to the virus that’s causing all these problems. While I do enjoy using the other characters, I did like using Morgan, as he can do some heavy damage with his hands and feet – apparently he likes to kick ass.
Once you find your way onto the island of Palanai, you’ll immediately notice that it’s a bit more native-looking, in that you don’t find signs of tourism or anything of the like. It’s a bit more ‘wild’ if you will and that’s just fine by me, with a higher level of tropicalness to it that looks pretty good. Here you’ll find all sorts of rivers, swampish areas and living areas with huts and caves, though while looking pretty, can also be a pain, since walking through water makes you slower. You’ll also run into a new zombie type called the Drowner, who lies beneath the water, creeping up to you slowly while blending it, before lunging at you to feast. Surely you can also jump into cars and speedboats to facilitate your travels faster, but you’re not invincible. You can in fact, get your vehicle jumped into if you travel too slowly, so you’ll want to be careful.
While the island and environment look good, the level design can be somewhat frustrating at times, as you’ll find yourself lost (and a few other reviewers I spoke to , had the same problem), even with a map in hand. Sure there are some trails that appear when nearing your objecting but they can also be a little too vague. While traversing through the island, there are also some technical issues whereby you’ll end up getting stuck on an object that shouldn’t be stopping your movements. I also would have liked for the island to be a bit more open for exploration, as there are areas I wanted to go over to, only to find out that I was limited to where I could go, so the idea of being a sandbox, isn’t quite there. When you consider that half the fun is looting and upgrading, it would have been nice to look into every nook and cranny that the island appeared to have.
Easily one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game, is the weapon customization. Obviously, the game has its RPG elements, with the ability to upgrade your attacks and abilities, which is great, but customizing my favorite weapons was a blast. For those who have the time to put some effort, creating more lethal weapons out of what they own is really cool, and while you could do this in the first Dead Island, I found the weapons in Riptide to be less frail, so they actually lasted long enough for me to fully enjoy.
While you could argue that the combat itself can get repetitive, playing co-op is really where it’s at. With up to four players at once, the zombie killing is happy-fun. You’ll also come across some missions to play, which weren’t that bad, but not as fun, though the horde missions were certainly the best. In these missions, you’ll need to keep an entire camp of survivors alive at the same time, so things get tense very quick.
Ultimately, Riptide is a more polished version of the original Dead Island, that doesn’t reinvent the zombie apocalypse, but is still an entertaining game. Sure it’s got some flaws that still need to be addressed but overall, Riptide still deserves a playthrough or two. Just bring some friends along.
Final Score: 3.8 out of 5