Aftershock: What Dead Island and Smoking Have in Common

I’ve been a Dead Island doubter for a long time – since that first trailer hit however many months ago and fooled everybody into thinking it would be a game that it so obviously wouldn’t be.

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.

Follow Phil on Twitter: @philrowen

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8 Comments on Aftershock: What Dead Island and Smoking Have in Common


On September 21, 2011 at 3:12 pm

It’s like Duke Nukem Forever. After a few months no one is gonna remember let alone care. Who gives a .


On September 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Not sure why this game gets so much hate. I think it’s pretty good. Obviously it has alot of issues, but in the end, I have a good time playing it.


On September 21, 2011 at 7:53 pm

i still care DNF was an awesome game troll


On September 22, 2011 at 12:11 am

Gamefront’s Dead Island coverage consists of nothing but continuous bashing and complaining about a game that really isn’t all that bad to begin with.
It’s good fun, especially with the co-op, so those of you who haven’t played it should at least give it a shot and not decide solely based on someone else’s opinion.

Shyfty - TorchMode

On September 22, 2011 at 9:15 am

Wow Kevin, did we misplace our security blanket this morning? You like a game, that’s super! The staff at GF doesn’t (maybe they are just smarter than you idk). And here you are giving defense for a product you classify as not “all that bad”.

Good show Kevin. (Oh and I am taking your advice and discounting your opinion.)


On September 23, 2011 at 10:01 am

So the fact that his opinions differ from GF’s staff and your own are enough to determine that he isn’t remotely intelligent?
Now I have to ask, do you have any idea what the word ‘opinion’ even means?


On October 1, 2011 at 2:50 am

I agree with Kevin and izkuzz. Why bash the game like that? Obviously the story and certain, crucial RPG elements are lacking, but at the end of the day you still had a good time slicing, dicing, smashing , crushing and shooting the hell out of every zombie you came across. I admit the trailer(s) made the game look a lot better than it actually is, but the amount of hate I’m seeing from you guys is incredible. I like looting (even if the loot isn’t always that great) and I LOVE killing zombies. I do wish the quests/missions were a little more diverse, instead of “Go to point A ,get this/kill this/say this, go to point B, Done.”. I’m not asking you to change your opinions, just stop expecting the game to be the groundbreaking new development in the world of zombie-killing RPGs.


On November 3, 2011 at 9:00 am

I totally agree with this article.

I got the game a few weeks back, I played the game for a solid amount of time now, solo or with some randoms online, which surprisingly where helpful and polite.

However the game is so boring and repetitive, most of the zombie killing is doing exactly the same thing, most of the weapons feel the same when using them, blunt or sharp weapons, you just use them in pretty much the same way, guns are pretty useless and there are barely any in the game, which makes sense considering they are in a resort island, but even then the shooting isn’t really polished, the combat on a whole doesn’t seem that polished either.

The game barely has any story, the missions have no depth, and there is no real incentive, the rpg side of the game is OK, but the fact enemies level up along with you is stupid, also the loot system is kinda crap, nothing really interesting in terms of weapons.

From reviews I read, some of the reviewers where saying it was similar to Fallout but with zombies, but it has none of the immersion, variety of quests and the quest have no story or real purpose apart for some thing to do in the game.

For me, this game is not fun at all, its just a chore of doing the same thing over and over again, bash zombies and do fetch quests, without any fun included, that’s Dead Island in a nutshell.