Dead Island: Riptide continues the story of the four survivors from the original game, but regardless of whether I picked Logan, Sam, Xian, or Purna, I found myself ironically turning into a zombie from having to hack through such a boring game. The story is typical of a generic B-movie about zombies. A group of survivors from a sudden zombie outbreak endure many hardships in their attempts to find safe shelter. And not to be left out, there is an overarching conspiracy plot that hinders their every move. The plot isn’t anything special, but it didn’t have to be because what I wanted was to have fun killing zombies. Yet, Dead Island: Riptide fails to provide even this simple joy.
You have to monotonously beat on the walking dead with a variety of blunt objects and knives until you’re able kill them by decapitation or some other finishing move. There’s rarely any opportunity to insta-kill a zombie like with a steroid-filled Barry Bonds home run swing of a baseball bat to the face (as there should be in a zombie game). The action simply becomes mind-numbingly tedious after a few hours of smashing the hit button (pushing in the right trigger for me) to kill only one zombie. And there’s no gimmick or fun alternative to this like in Zombieland’s “Zombie kill of the week.” I could only dream about being able to drop a piano on top of a zombie or play a guitar tune and then smash in a zombies head with the instrument afterwards.
Right from the beginning, there was little indication that Dead Island: Riptide would be a fun game to play. The opening cut scene delivered some of the most horrific dialog I have ever heard such as, “Your orders are to follow my orders,” and, “His superiors are my superiors”. The dialogue was so horrendous that it brought some unintentional comedy to the story until I realized that the game was attempting to be dark and mysterious. Unintentional seemed to be the theme (unintentionally, of course!) of the game from the minute I took control of my character, Sam. Sam’s movements felt sluggish from the start and rightfully so as he was wading through water-filled passages in a flooding boat. But after landing on the island, I realized that the slightly lethargic controls were a part of the overall flawed gameplay rather than by intentional design. And the slight feeling of dread (or more accurately the feeling that there was a zombie always behind me) I felt while navigating through the zombie-infested island of Palanai was not instigated by the game’s plot or gameplay, but by the poorly considered enemy spawn points. I can’t count the number of times I cleared out a room of zombies, only to see the red whack from a zombie as I looked down to grab some loot.
To add on to an already poorly made game, Dead Island: Riptide is almost identical to the original game, only taking place on a different island. The graphics are still mediocre, to put it lightly, and the game is full of the glitches and bugs that plagued Dead Island. The frame rate drops after executing a finishing move, such as breaking a bone, causing your character to freeze while the zombies around you are allowed to get in an extra whack or two. What’s worse is that the game designers didn’t even bother to add anything new to the level design either. During one sequence, I climbed onto the same garage-looking building from Dead Island to drop down through a hole in the roof. I killed the same few zombies and the tough thug inside to grab the boat motor (battery in the original game). It was at this moment that I wanted to quit, only a few hours into the game, realizing that Dead Island: Riptide was just a repackaged Dead Island. But at least this time there was no computer-generated imagery (CGI) filled trailer to trick you into thinking that this would be a great game.