Aftershock: What Dead Island and Smoking Have in Common
But I believe in second chances — or I’m a guy who plays every game he can — and so I picked up Dead Island a couple weeks ago. I then proceeded to hate myself as I had no fun and was completely bored.
Dead Island is similar to Dead Rising in a lot of ways in terms of the seemingly pointless things you’re going to be doing while you play the game. But Dead Island made me for the first time really appreciate Dead Rising’s hook. I’m talking about that game’s ticking clock.
As the other Phil discussed in his review of Dead Island, you’ll spend a lot of the game running around doing silly, non-urgent errands for random people you meet all over the island of Banoi, which is similar to what you do in the Dead Rising games. The difference, of course, is that the Dead Rising games put you on the clock, and so you can’t do everything and you have to focus on the most relevant objectives first.
Dead Island, lacking any sense of urgency that comes with the timer, feels utterly pointless. You can take as much time as you want to do anything in the game and nobody will care. Nobody is going to die because you’re slow.
And then you add to that the utter lack of tension from fighting the zombies — if you die, you simply respawn nearby — and you have one of the least horrifying horror games I’ve ever played.
But, OK, let’s remove the expectation that this zombie game has to be scary or tense. That’s fine. Let’s also get rid of the need for there to be a purpose in playing this game. Lots of games are fun but have no purpose. Hell, that’s what online multiplayer is.
So what we need to know now is if the game is fun to play. Eh. I mean it’s not quite broken, but that’s probably the nicest thing I have to say about it. That, or that the act of hitting zombies isn’t totally annoying. The gameplay of Dead Island is a lot like smoking a cigarette: you do it because it’s a thing you do, and you don’t really get anything out of it except it’ll kill you someday.
And that’s how I feel about Dead Island as a whole. At first I was sort of appalled by it, but the more I played it the less I hated it. I think I just learned to tolerate it and not feel murderous because all I got from searching that huge pile of luggage was a few dollars and some wires.
Look, I get why a lot of folks enjoy it. You like zombies and you like looting and holy s–t both of those things are in this game. And it’s pretty, and there are lots of places to explore and weapons to build, and we all like developing characters in an RPG. There’s just so much game here, and that’s definitely a plus. But at the end of the day it’s still going to give you cancer, and that’s not cool.
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