Dead Island: Riptide Review: A Flood of Repetitive Skull-Smashing

There are a few new things in Riptide that are smart improvements on the formula. For one, instead of floating around between groups of survivors, you mostly stick with the same band of poor future zombies throughout the course of the game, moving them from safehouse to safehouse as you drive through the campaign of Riptide. These characters matter slightly more than the ones from before, and on several occasions you’ll find yourself actually fighting alongside them — including the characters you didn’t choose to play as or who aren’t being controlled by other players in co-op. Your safehouses regularly come under attack, triggering defense missions in which you need to fortify the structure somewhat; during the ensuing battle, you’ll spend most of your time running around, getting your comrades out of jams before they’re killed.

A zombie appears. Kick it with “E”, hit it with a bat, smash its skull.

These moments help to make everything you do out in the field, from gathering bits of garbage to tracking down a helpful scientist, feel like they actually have at least a little bit of weight. In the last game, since you and your three companions (and co-op buddies) were immune to the zombie plague, you were tasked with doing everyone’s errands. Dealing with NPCs was an exercise in completing every crappy job anyone had ever imagined, and performing it while under threat of zombie attack. In Riptide, picking up blades and lighter fluid and deodorant sticks actually has some purpose — it can upgrade the shops and weapons of your team of survivors, and make them more effective in helping you through the crisis.

There’s also a new character to try out who specializes in hand-to-hand combat, and you can carry over all your stats for the original characters (each of whom has a different weapon specialty) if you played through the first Dead Island. That’s nice, because it makes all that time you spent in the first game, if you spent any, at least a little bit useful. The game scales with your level, so the benefit is in getting hold of top-tier abilities and upgrades in the character skill trees that you might not have accessed two years ago.

But it’s all in service of the same one-note gameplay that Dead Island suffered from in its original outing. In the opening hours of Riptide, that gameplay can be fun and harrowing, since zombies are everywhere and you have to pick your battles in order to stay alive. Sneaking through villages and marinas is exciting because of this, especially as you hear and avoid the more powerful special zombies scattered around, but as you earn new weapons, you’ll eventually get to a point in which you’re just hacking through the hordes with ease.

This is especially true if you do a lot of sidequests and make smart use of the game’s blueprint-based weapon modding system, which makes for some of the best stuff in the game. By the end, I had a bow staff that shot zombies across the room, a katana that electrified groups of undead even as it sliced off the heads of the closest members, a shotgun that sprayed fire and was basically unstoppable even against the toughest undead, and so many health kits I could have opened my own triage center. Despite throwing some fun weapons your way, the basic gameplay never elevates beyond using blunt objects to bash the idiotic undead, and because of that, Riptide never becomes all that enthralling.

A zombie appears. Kick it with “E”, hit it with a bat, smash its skull.

I will say that Riptide manages to avoid being out-and-out boring, though, unlike the last game. The first Dead Island went on forever, and brought players through four absolutely huge environments that were more sprawl than smart design. Riptide maintains much of the size but does more with it, streamlining its main quest so it’s less fetch-oriented. Palanai is in the middle of its rainy season throughout the game, so vision-obscuring downpours are common and big swaths of every map are flooded. The early part of Riptide even has players motor-boating around villages half underwater, dealing with zombies latching onto the vessel, and searching for things in the water-logged buildings. The area is big, but it’s far less irritating to trek across than last time out.

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2 Comments on Dead Island: Riptide Review: A Flood of Repetitive Skull-Smashing


On April 27, 2013 at 8:43 am

Fair enough review I suppose, but really what game isn’t repetitive these days? I think the only improvement I’ve seen in any other game is better cut scene animations and possibly better story lines. However, I don’t normally care for a story that much in regards to playing a game. Personally, smashing zombie skulls never gets boring.

Also the game is only 49.99 USD and NOT A SEQUEL it is a continuation of the original story, but not a true sequel check your sources if I had the resource off hand I’d link it here for you. However, it should be noted this is not Dead Island 2 it is Dead Island: Riptide basically an expansion pack, and there were some major improvements to game play mechanics and collision detection from the previous version.


On May 1, 2013 at 6:44 pm