When Escape Dead Island was announced it raised a few eyebrows…the shift from 1st to 3rd person was one thing but the graphical style going to cel-shaded was another.
Escape Dead Island was a clear change in direction for the Dead Island series & one that had a few people excited especially after its trippy trailer. Sadly the end result is a mess of crappy visuals, poor story, even poorer voice acting & horrible combat.
Escape Dead Island’s biggest crime though is just how little it has in common with the Dead Island series at all.
The game opens with you in control of some ninja guy inside a lab. He is on a mission to assassinate a ‘mole’ inside the facility. While in contact with persons unknown across a radio the zombie outbreak begins in the lab. The ninja completes his mission, hides a USB stick containing evidence in the lab locker room before getting attacked by something off screen…something large.
6 months later, Cliff (your character), Linda & Devan are on a mission to uncover the truth about what happened on Banoi. The trio are trying to start their own journalist outfit & figure this story could be their big break. Cliff stole the boat from his important father, an importat figure in the world, after being passed up for a promotion in favour of his sister. Cliff is still upset about this.
The kids land at the nearby Narapela Island which is part of the island chain that includes Banoi. They find the place deserted but after some initial exploring discover a mass grave of bodies. The bodies re-animate & Linda is attacked. They manage to get away & take Linda to a camp at the top of a mountain when they see a plane crashing & Cliff goes off to find it.
Once Cliff finds it he meets up with Dead Island’s Xian Mei who was working with the ninja from the beginning of the game. She wants the data & knows of a cure in the nearby labs & enlists Cliff’s help to retrieve it. Cliff agrees in the hope of saving Linda but begins to experience vivid hallucinations that get worse as the game goes on.
Can Cliff save Linda, get the story & win his father’s respect? Oh & not die by the rotted hands of the zombies roaming the island?
I didn’t care, you won’t care…the game makes it impossible to care.
Let’s start with the characters…in the opening scene Devan & Linda refer to Cliff as a douchebag, it is exactly what he is & he never gets any better. Oh, character progression is implied but there is no weight to it, no weight to his actions because the game quickly establishes that it all might not be real.
Cliff’s journey doesn’t feel noble & even at the end his actions are selfish, he is difficult to relate to. Linda & Devan are generic clones as are the few scientist characters you meet (including one Mr Hyde style character that is just awful). Nothing stands out except how bad they look…Linda in particular looks like a piece of play-dough rolled out…the further back you are the worse it gets.
Voice acting is terrible & it will have you reaching for the mute button. If that doesn’t than the irritating looped music will.
With the game being cel-shaded it should have given the developers room too really make something of the environment but instead we got a game that looks awful. Escape Dead Island is so ugly it’s hard to describe…everything is either an obstacle you can’t pass or not there at all. Walking through a bush will see Cliff pass through it like he is a ghost; it is unacceptable to get a game this poorly looking in 2014/2015.
Even still, there are more things wrong with this game….combat is awful. 2 buttons…1 light & 1 heavy attack. That is it! The heavy attack is the only really useful attack but takes such a large amount of time to do that you’ll have been struck several times by the surrounding zombies before the swing has finished its rotation. You can stealth kill some zombies if you sneak up behind them…this is the recommended way to play as combat is so poor & frustrating (you have a stamina bar but running away from zombies is out of the question).
The zombies are so far & few between, you’ll spend large sections of the game thinking you are alone on this island. There are several different types & you have a few different weapons to deal with them including guns. The same tactic should be used for all but the butchers…wind up the heavy attack & smash them to bits. Fun, huh?
One of Dead Island’s charms was the ability to customise weapons….well that is all gone here. Instead you pick up a few weapons & some variations. There is no customisation at all & some weapons feel pointless. Such as the shotgun that becomes impossible to use once a zombie is up close & personal.
There are about 6 areas in the game & you will backtrack through them constantly. The game is one big fetch quest…go to one section. Pick something up than go back to the other…constantly.
Thankfully the game is quite short & relatively easy up until the final chapter were we get a nice big difficulty spike. The games check-pointing system will see you die & start before an un-skipable cut scene or talky bit & there is nothing you can do about it. I had to watch some things 10+ times before I willed myself past the zombies.
These sections are mind-bendingly frustrating & further proof to just how poorly put together this game was.
A new game+ that sees you keep all your collected collectibles but none of your health upgrades or weapons nor does it actually offer anything fresh gives returning players something further to torture themselves with.
I’ll sum Escape Dead Island up like this…after having passed through the same cave network for, what felt like, the millionth time I pressed LB to see my target marker only to discover that it was in the cave network behind me. Had I taken a wrong turn? I went back to it…nothing. Checked my marker again & now it had moved to the direction I had been heading in. The marker only moved once I walked over its initial location instead of when I passed it by… *facepalm*
Escape Dead Island