Also On: Xbox One
Publisher: Deep Silver
It's been many years since my last encounter with the Dead Island series. Keep in mind I'm clearly talking about the original and Riptide, not those two hot garbage titles that came after. Playing the original Dead Island was much like a love/hate relationship. You knew there were issues to deal with that would most likely never go away and as much as you see the potential, you could never really come to terms with how you really felt. You always wanted that relationship to be a diamond in the rough.
Five plus years later, something has brought me back into the island of Banoi and it wasn't the "remaster" itch that I've obtained over the last year. It was the inclusion of a mod that I used to read about on the PC called "One Punch Mode". This mode is exactly what you think it is, but even better. Kick or punch a zombie and they usually die with one hit and also fly across the screen as they are dismembered. There is a lot of fun to be had with this mode, just keep in mind, you won't be able to gain trophies/achievements when using this mode.
The visuals have also had a bump in clarity, particularly in the lighting department. Sadly, despite the photorealistic lighting and some other improvements, such as anti-aliasing and motion blur effects, the Dead Island: DE still looks, and a lot of times feels, like a last gen title. This is a perfect case of "visuals aren't everything". They could have released it half-assed like the embarrassing Prototype HD nonsense and focused on refining the mechanics instead, we would be having a very different review here.
Something that makes it harder to replay these and not complain is the existence of Dying Light, which was also developed by Techland. While Dying Light still had its share of glitches, it truly defined what Dead island was looking to accomplish and took it to the next level. Granted they are two very different games, yet I can't help but compare. Techland did take the time to update some components of Dead Island, like the UI, which helps it feel a little refreshed, but I don't feel it was enough. Both Dead Island and Riptide look and feel the same so there isn't much to compare gameplay wise.
If you end up wanting to take a break from either title, you will be treated to a third game, included with the physical copies of the game. This is in the form of a 16-bit endless runner called Dead Island: Retro Revenge. I haven't spent too much time with it as of yet, but not being a fan of endless runners, I don't see being a big fan of it. At first glance, I thought we were being treated to a Double Dragon/Streets of Rage style game and was disappointed to see a tablet style game on my PS4. Meh.
If you were a fan of the original Dead Island games despite their shortcomings, they're worth a revisit. I never was able to play with the fifth character in either DI or Riptide so that's where my focus has been. Purchasing the physical collection gives you Retro Revenge, which makes this a decent value.