Dead Island 2 pulls off a miracle with a mix of great combat and an eccentric cast of memorable characters.
Developer – Dambuster Studios
Publisher – Deep Silver
Platforms – PlayStation, Xbox, PC
After a near decade long absence, Dead Island 2 comes back from the dead to terrorize a new generation of players, and it modernizes the originals gameplay concepts and ideas. Dead Island 2 is a fun co-op zombie romp, find out what it does right in our spoiler free review.
Dead Island is a strange franchise. The original game was the textbook definition of a cult classic. It was technically a mess and not very refined, but it essentially created a genre and its quirks and first-person combat made a strong impression. Add to that the infamous opening cutscene, and Dead Island holds a firm place in many hearts. Since its release, games from that legacy, notably the Dying Light series, have blown up to become mega hits. This leaves Dead Island 2, a sequel created by an all-new development team after years of struggle, to circle back to where it all started.
Dead Island 2 takes places in a zombie filled LA, known as Hell-A and its the absolute star of the show. The plot revolves around a handful of survivors in a story filled with dark humor and grisly fates, but told with a confidence and bravado that elevates all of the characters you interact with.
At the start of the game, you can select from six characters, each with their personality, skill decks, and play styles. Each character is voiced well, and script lines differ from character to character for scripted moments based on their cultures and heritage. The story is well told, even if it’s unremarkable, but the real star of the show is the characters themselves.
Each one, from the player character to NPC, is unique, usually pretty funny, and, most importantly, memorable. They are also brought to life with stunning visuals, as the game ran at a perfect 60 frames per second on PS5 and never gave me trouble at any point. Another staff writer commented on the impact of the sound design, as the vocal performances are fantastic, and the weapons pack an oomph to back up how much they eviscerate the undead hordes of Beverly Hills.
Speaking of hills, the location has to be given special notice. Hell-A is one of the best locations to hit any game in quite some time. Each area is broken up into zones, and the tight focus has let them run wild with creative world design and telling stories. Shout out to the Goat Pen, which is excellent and sure to be talked about for a long time.
The combat is well done, as the viciousness of each swing of your weapon is detailed to gross effect. Hammers bash jaws in half, spears puncture stomachs and spill guts, and blades main and cut deep. It isn’t all for show, as the damage is visual and lets you know if an attack is working. The only issue I had with itis that after the halfway point, you stop getting new mechanics, and by the time credits rolled, combat didn’t change much from the first moments to the end moments. Guns also are a weak point, as they lack impact and aren’t as fun to use as specialized melee attacks.
I loved my time in Dead Island 2, and for the accessibility minded, the online co-op made the game very easy to pick up and play, and I was never frustrated with my time in Hell-A.