Whereas the premise sounds incredible, Dead Island: Riptide falls short of being a stellar example of how open-world zombie games should be. Its redeeming qualities, however, reserve me from warning all ye who enter to turn back from the island. It may not be incredible, but it’s certainly something that will provide you and a friend fun for a playthrough. I repeat – you and a friend. Alone, I fear, Dead Island: Riptide is simply too taxing to endure with its constant fetch quests.
There is an element of difficulty with Riptide as Andy and I found ourselves dying constantly. However, it is so inconsequential, that there is very little illusion of difficulty. Which can be a good thing (taxing fetch quests reminder). Money gets taken away with each death, but after an early point in the game, money really becomes no object as you’ll find that mo’ money actually equals less problems. But as a player, one wishes that it actually did stick to the Notorious B.I.G. song. I wish that it wasn’t easy to become incredibly OP quickly, as leveling up the skill trees, weapon skills, and upgrading your weapons all proved simple very early on. In a game like this where you’re mowing down zombie hordes on an island, it’s good to feel like a badass, but not like a God.
Guns seemed scarce in the majority of my playthrough, and even when I did find them the melee ones proved not only more effective, but more fun as well. Shooting the zombies should have felt more powerful than slicing them, but it felt the same or even less so. It’s a bit pointless for that.
The number of bugs in the game is also alarming. Many times I would die and checkpoint very far away from Andy, while on other occasions I would actually be completely stuck in an area that shouldn’t have been accessible in the first place. Again, this is all far better with a friend. Not only will you laugh at the ridiculous glitches, but you’ll also be able to drop out of the game to then join in again next to where you wanted to be (next to your partner). It’s annoying, it’s laughable, and it’s disappointing. I was also turned off by the graphics and art direction.
Why does Xian dangle like a paraplegic as she climbs vines? Why do the cutscenes look very grainy? When jumping, there’s a Morrowind/Oblivion type of statue effect. It’s all ugly and could have used more effort into it. Especially considering that it takes itself to be a serious game with goals for what it wants players to experience. I think, and this is something Andy and I realized during our playthrough, that this game would be excellent if it didn’t take itself seriously. (And if it doesn’t take itself seriously, it should be clearer of that.) There is a shark mod for a weapon, right? Make the weapon shoot sharks at the zombies. Enhancements like that can really turn this game around.
As much good as I think an open world zombie apocalypse game can do, Dead Island: Riptide tries to be a serious example when it lacks the fear that comes with the situation. I didn’t feel like I was hopeless on the island; I didn’t feel like every corner posed a real threat. What it was, was a fun (albeit forgettable) experience. Not worth full price, but not worth passing on completely, neither.
I had never gotten around to playing Dead Island the first time around, so I was pretty much going into Dead Island: Riptide blind. The premise always sounded awesome: a zombie action role-playing game. However, the little that I heard about the first game worried me. It seemed to just vanish once it was released and I was never sure why, nor did I really care with the influx of zombie games already pervading the market. Thus, Riptide was my first foray into tropical undead misadventures, but how was my trip?
Among the cast of characters, each with their own combat specialty, Yamilia and I had an affinity for Xian, the Chinese airline stewardess, proficient in the art of the blade. I was sold once she said she was doing this for honor. I was basically Mulan.
I was glad I chose the petite swordswoman because the game’s best assets worked well for her character anyway. A variety of weapon modifications allowed me to make a colorful little arsenal of machetes, katanas, knives, and the like. I found myself going through a ton of different weapons by the time the game was over. It offered a pleasant amount of experimentation. Your arsenal will grow quickly, but unfortunately, the game’s difficulty may not catch up.
Any difficulty in Riptide is rendered inconsequential, because there are no consequences for dying. As you pick up too much money throughout the game, the minuscule fee you pay for dying hardly hurts your wallet. This wound up sacrificing a lot of the tension and strategy in staying alive that you would feel in a zombie apocalypse. Its RPG elements ultimately fail when you make too much money and upgrade everything you need too quickly. Riptide seems to play it way too safe for what it is. It’s great and all to have awesome weapons early on, but you lose the satisfaction in progressing through the game.
The atmosphere continues to suffer beyond that; Riptide is chock-full of bugs and glitches. A few of them would have broken our game if not for the checkpoint system. On one occasion, Yamilia and SamuraiLincoln (our quiet, online, stranger friend) jumped down from some branches we were traversing to end up stuck with no way out. It was designed to look like a regular piece of scenery, which made it all very confusing. Similarly, Yamilia and I once respawned in one little area of a town with a working ladder and everything, only to find ourselves completely stuck for no reason. With that on top of the magical instant sunny to stormy weather glitches, we were severely confused.
For a first impression on the series, I can see some great gameplay ideas at play here, but they don’t harmonize as well as they could have. Still, I had a pretty good time, although we might have just been making it more fun by playing co-operatively. Playing alone with have been much more boring without a friend to laugh at the game with, like laughing at how bad the character animations are in third-person or finding soap in a cash register. Yes, there was soap in a cash register. Why.
Riptide actually does a fairly good job of adding variety to the scenery, even with the majority of the game on an island. The only problem is getting from place to place. You may notice how awful the map and compass system is once you really have to trek across an island or town with no shortcuts, especially in the water sequences. While you’ll seldom be boating through the swamp, it doesn’t make it any less of a confusing chore. With one of us at the helm and the other navigating, we could only imagine how awful it must be to go at it alone.
While it falls short of almost everything it tries to accomplish, the elements are still there for a potentially fun time. At a price of $40, Dead Island: Riptide ought to be a fairly droll time for you and a couple of friends online, provided you don’t take it as seriously as the game takes itself.
[+Large variety of weapons] [+Skill trees lead to extended play time] [+Plenty of collectables to find] [+Co-operative mode is engaging] [-Repetitive missions and gameplay] [-Forgettable story] [-Bugs galore] [-Lazy graphics]