First Impressions: Dead Island is a First Person Zombie RPG

At this time I’m not fully prepared to write a review of Dead Island, but I wanted to get some of my first impressions out in the open.  First off, this game does not disappoint after being hyped to hell and back with its infamous debut trailer, which knocked the world on its a*s because it was so powerful.  Dead Island also isn’t one of those games where you feel like you’ve been punched in the balls after buying it due to the hype behind it.  It’s a very solid Zombie game that has an interesting formula to set it apart from the other zombie based games inhabiting the market.

What sets Dead Island apart from its competition is that it has some roots in the RPG genre, as well as an extensive loot system.  You don’t just jump right into the action and start slaughtering the undead.  You have to talk with NPC’s to gain both main quests, and side quests.  On top of that RPG tactic there’s also a very large map to explore, which is something you don’t typically have in zombie games.

I can’t help but compare Dead Island to one of the recent Fallout games. You can level up your character (albeit in less detail than Fallout), your guns, and you even can mod your weapons, or repair them.  The flow of the game feels very Fallout-ish too.  This isn’t a linear Zombie slasher.  You are given options as to how to go about each quest, and if you want to take things even further you can participate in side quests as well.  All of these RPG-like elements are neatly organized in a menu, so keeping track of which quest is which is easily achieved.

Dead Island has all kinds of Sh*t to do and a Great Interface to Manage it

The actual gameplay is similar to Left 4 Dead, or Fallout.  You are in the standard first person view, and you can utilize both melee and ranged weapons.  Just like in Fallout you’ll randomly encounter zombies on your way to certain quests, and the methods of disposal make for some very graphic deaths.  There’s something extremely gratifying about popping the head off of a zombie as it charges at you like a bull.  It feels like you’re in some sort of demented baseball game where the bat could have nails in it, and the balls are in the form of zombie heads.  To accompany the death and destruction Dead Island also offers tons of loot to score through extensive searches of your surroundings.  Said loot can then be used for cash, or you can fashion new weapons out of it a la Dead Rising.

Guns are for P*ssy’s! 

I have yet to play Dead Island with a friend yet, but I can tell it’s gonna be similar to Borderlands.  Both players will earn XP and loot regardless of who is host, but story progression will depend on how far off in level both players are.  For a full explanation on how the co-op mode works head on over to this post.

If I had to list some negatives about Dead Island character movement and visuals would be at the top.  Characters move more realistically than most FPS games, so it kind of feels like you’re drunk while moving.  I’d compare it to the Euphoria engine used in GTA games.  You just don’t feel as twitchy in Dead Island compared to a game like Call of Duty, or GTA 4.  You will get used to it, but if you’re expecting DI to feel like other first person games it won’t.  As far as the visuals go, the game looks fantastic, but I don’t agree with the developers use of the blurry effect.  Certain bright locations in the game have a haze-like look to them, which kind of washes out the visuals.

Notice the Blur/Haze Effect?

In the end, Dead Island is a very solid game that utilizes some great features from other franchises to set it apart from other zombie games.  If you liked playing Fallout, but aren’t a big fan of RPG games that are that large, Dead Island is a nice middle ground.  It’s a refreshing spin on the first person genre, and for some reason killing zombies in gruesome ways never gets old.  For an initial rating I give Dead Island 8 out of 10 Buddhas.  Pick it up today and get to some zombie hacking with your friends.  You’ve been dying to whack some zombies with a nail filled bat…

Dead Island Gameplay Footage


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Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.