I didn’t know what to expect from style="">Dead Island when I was installing it. style="">  I’ve heard good things,
bad things, and then
there’s target="_blank">this video with ridiculously broken physics. style="">  To
some that might
be a huge turn-off.  Me,
I knew I had to play
this bloody mess.  So I set
forth for adventure and a
nice relaxing tour in paradise.  Well,
about as paradise-like as Zombieland, minus Bill Murray.

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style="font-style: italic;">It's every man for himself out
there.  See that civilian fighting for his life?
 He's about to be collateral damage from my molotov.
 Better him than me.

Well, someone spiked the punch at the
party, and the whole
island is now a mess.  People
are getting
infected like your standard zombie movie, and like your standard zombie
your best weapon of choice is the headshot. 
Or in this case, headsmack, with all the melee combat
involved in this
game.  Welcome to style="">Dead Island!


Whoa there’s a lot of red in this. Mean, realistic red too, and hey, where’d that guy’s head go? This game is not for the faint of heart, or the middle schoolers, and earns the M rating.

Gameplay - 70 / 100

Dead Island is a melee FPS at heart. style="">  You might balk at that and
talk about the
guns and driving in this game, but with ammunition and driving parts so
it’s down to your fists and anything you can get your hands on or

Each of the four characters is a
specialist in one of the
ways of combat (throwing, slashing melee, blunt melee, firearms) and
respective talent trees ala WoW.  You
gain experience via killing, and leveling up gives you a skill point to
into these trees. Nothing out of the ordinary for personal progression
here, so
you won’t be puzzled when it comes to how you grow over the course of
the game.

Most of the game is spent delivering
right hooks and cross
cuts with a variety of weapons.  You’re
welcome to bash the hell out of someone’s skull, deliver a sick front
kick, and
dismember their upper body…. But why the hell can’t you wreck their
legs?  That’s right
folks.  Taking a
sledge to the leg of a zombie has
the same effect as one to the torso. 
can break the arms off the super zombies, but when it comes to
movement, you just
have to deal with it.  No
Dead Space style limb kills here.

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style="font-style: italic;">Unlike most zombie games,
getting surrounded is basically instant death.  You have to
watch your back and keep an escape route open if you get overwhelmed!

The weapons themselves are flavored
with all kinds of
nonsense ala Diablo and its kin. style="">  Unfortunately, one of
those traits is
durability.  And the
durability of your
weapons is pathetic for most of the game. style="">  Nothing
is fun about having to constantly switch in and out weapons because
your club
busted after quite literally 15 strikes. 
Money grows on trees, but it’s a stupid anti-fun
inconvenience in an
otherwise brutal melee game.  At
you can lob the busted weapon at the enemy out of spite.

Quest progression is simple
enough—talk to npc, find item, return
for the vast majority.  With
cash and
crafting rewards as well as XP, there is a reason to deal with the
survivors.  Some of
the quests have
little to no help though on the quest tracker, so unless you enjoy wild
for alcohol or other uncommon items, I’d advise skipping these. style="">  The game isn’t exactly fun
to explore, as the
entire game is scaled to your level ala Dragon
and the environment tends to reuse a ton of models. style="">  The zombie variety isn’t
exactly stellar

So we have a huge variety of weapons,
a lackluster variety
of terrain and enemies, a quest/talent system out of WoW, and a first
person shooter
with four characters.  style="">Zombie Borderlands, for better or for
worse, is what you are getting out of this. 
To be honest, that should be enough to turn on to a
purchase, or off
right there, but read further for some more dirt on beyond the gameplay.

Graphics - 95 / 100

Dead Island has
beautiful scenery.  You
really get the
feeling that it is a vacation isle gone to hell, and those lovely
streaks of
red that end up everywhere look great.The character models leave
something to
be desired, but you’re not seeing a lot of those. 
The zombies themselves look pretty good, and
while the actual gameplay variety may be low, the variety of zombie
charging at you as a Walker, Infested, Thug etc, are quite high and varied. style=""> 

As they should, melee weapons get
appropriately bloodier and
bloodier as you beat the gore out of things. 
Like any good B horror movie, you must end up covered in
blood at the
end of a fight or you’re doing it wrong.

Sound - 70 / 100

A pretty much non-existent music score kills the desire to explore by making it a boring and repetitive feeling task. The sounds of slices and bashing are spot on though, and the directional audio is a great boon when it comes to dealing with flanking and charging hordes. The survivors sound just like they should—scared and alone. One major flaw is with all of the open space, you end up doing a lot of sprinting, and you character starts panting after about 3 goddamn paces—while still sprinting for another 100!

Multiplayer - 90 / 100

Like its spiritual inspiration in style="">Borderlands, the co-op of Dead
is difficult and fun. 
and the number of them increase accordingly, but one of the interesting
is that experience points scale ridiculously to help lower level
players get
into the fray better.  So
much as
punching a zombie once on a high level boss-type can get you 100+ exp style="">per punch, so don those brass knuckles
and beat the tar out of some high level buddy’s zombie horde to get
quickly. Is it a flaw
or a feature?  That’s
up to you to decide.

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hope you don't enter close
quarters like houses with a crowd behind you, because you never know
when you'll have to back up and get out of the way of a nasty ambush!

Value - 70 / 100

While the game does allow for second playthroughs, with the story being more or less complete in 15 hours tops I found myself lacking any kind of incentive or desire to play through again. As I’m sure some of you have heard, the PC version launched pretty much broken, and has had 3 patches now to get it up to speed and playability. It is now stable and fun, but some stupid decisions like being able to hold 15 boat paddles but being forced to consume an energy drink on the spot still exist, or why a steel dagger breaks in 10 stabs on zombie flesh. The good news is that the silly design decisions do not really detract from the fun of the game once you get used to them… if you last that long.

Lasting Appeal - 65 / 100

This whole game just feels like a
really well done mod
rather than a full-fledged game.  It
lots of stupid design choices in the durability and lack of a fast
system (respawning zombies DO get old after a while) but the core
gameplay is fun
as hell and who doesn’t like tag teaming a zombie wave with a buddy? style="">  The amount you get out of style="">Dead Island beyond the single player
lies completely in your friend circle. 
If you guys can get together and do zombie killing sprees
on a regular
basis, you’ll find yourself embracing this for a long time to come, and
it will
only get better as it gets patched with more bug fixes, and hopefully,
lasting content than some fetch quests.

Pros and Cons


  • Bloody and beautiful graphics
  • Lead Pipe + Zombie Face = fun gameplay!
  • Zombie survival is meant for co-op, and it shines.


  • Really doesn't innovate at all in any aspect.
  • Who the hell thought this durability system was fun,
    interesting, or worthwhile?  This is a game where  style="font-style: italic;">my kick can decapitate a zombie,
    get this realism out of here!
  • Low variety in zombie types and
    quest types means you better
    enjoy the gameplay from the start, as it isn’t going to change much.


It’s a wonderful concept and the core
gameplay is executed
beautifully, but it really doesn’t do anything new or interesting. style="">  You get weapons, you shoot
zombies, blah blah
blah story you skip through, and you do it again with a friend. style="">  A laundry list of silliness like lack of a
soundtrack and the durability system (no seriously, it is THAT bad)
have no
place in a zombie survival game, and in the end, make Dead
nothing more than a mediocre co-op killer. style="">  These games are still a
ton of fun, but it’s
nothing I would run out and buy at full price, especially when the
still needs patches every few days!

Overall 74/100 - Pretty Good

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016