Dead Island Riptide Review

I was at my wit’s end. I had reached the last straw.

My current mission in Dead Island Riptide called for me to use a boat to get where I needed to go. Fine, let’s get a boat. I looked at my map, saw where the boat was, and made my way to it. The boat had spawned on top of some rocks. Odd. Riptide had plenty of noticeable glitches and technical issues, but this was a new one. I climbed into the boat, started the engine, and hit full throttle…

…except I didn’t go anywhere. The boat the game had me believe was necessary for the mission was stuck on the rocks it had spawned on, rendered completely immobile. “Well that’s just fantastic,” I thought, “Does this mean I’m going to have to restart the entire game?!” Thankfully, and through no guidance from the game itself, I found an on-foot route and was able to continue my quest, but MAN was that a scary moment.

Dead Island Riptide is supposed to scare you, but I doubt that a potentially game-breaking technical faux pas was what the developers had in mind. Unfortunately, Riptide is littered with glitches and bugs, some of which inexplicably made their way from the original Dead Island two years ago: blocky animations, inaccurate targeting of limbs, and more.  Some of them actually helped me, like the few zombies who got stuck on stairs or in walls, but most of the time these bugs detacted from the overall experience.

Despite the technical problems, Dead Island Riptide does retain some of the fun factor from the previous game. I still enjoy the rush I get from stomping a zombie’s head in as he lies on the ground, I still love seeing a newly-modified weapon come into my hand for the first time, and the special zombies, specifically Butchers and Thugs, still intimidate the hell out of me. Just like with the previous game, if ever the zombie apocalypse did befall our world, I’d expect it to play out like Riptide more than any other game.

A bit of that authenticity comes from Riptide’s level of difficulty, enhanced by sections of endlessly spawning running zombies and “position defense” areas where a certain location must be defended for a period of time. A few shacks in the island portion of the game seem to be filled with infinite running zombies, who emerge three at a time and know exactly where I’m standing when they come out. Most of the time they reveal themselves when I already have my hands full with other bad guys, but the more the merrier!

The position defense areas, on the other hand, are simple in design: fortify an area with fences, set off something that attracts the horde (like a loud water pump, for example), and kill as many of the undead as possible. Enemy numbers can quickly become overwhelming, not to mention the responsibility of constantly having to rescue other survivors from being killed. If another survivor dies, it’s game over… as if things weren’t complicated enough. The invading enemies aren’t just normal Walkers either; special infected like Thugs, Floaters, and Butchers will join in the fun, too. Defending these areas is more frustrating than enjoyable, and I was happy to be rid of each one as I finished.

Granted it’s no Dark Souls, but Riptide did make me want to pull my hair out on more than one occasion. It’s one thing to be challenging, entirely another to be impossible. Instead of feeling accomplished in completing a mission, I constantly felt like I was lucky to have gotten through it. Only hardened Dead Island fans or those who need to beat every game they touch will be able to put up with the constant beatdowns and continue screens. The rest of the playing masses may reach their limit and wash their hands of it.

What may be most disappointing is that Riptide doesn’t feel like a bonafide sequel; rather, it comes off as an expansion originally intended for downloadable content converted into a full retail game. The original Dead Island, for all of its technical problems, was a breath of fresh, zombified air. I’d never played a zombie game like this, where these ugly mugs were in my face from the title screen to the credits. I still remember jumping in fright the first time a Walker grabbed me and stuck his face in my screen. Riptide is more of the same old thing, unable to carry over the magic of the first game, which makes its problems that much harder to ignore.

Dead Island Riptide is the perfect game for fans of the original game: more of the same with a few new tweaks. However, those who had hoped for major enhancements and fresh zombie-killing action won’t find them here. It’s more Dead Island, complete with all of the glitches and clunky animations we were willing to ignore the first time.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice… well, I won’t be fooled again.


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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