Dead Island: Riptide is a sequel to 2011′s Dead Island. The game followed four immune survivors of a zombie apocalypse and their attempt to make it off the island of Banoi. They encountered zombies, gangbangers, and other monsters. The game received positive reviews upon release, but as with most games, some did not enjoy it; pointing out technical issues and gameplay problems. The game could be described as part Left 4 Dead and part Fallout. But Dead Island: Riptide misses out on both these. It’s more like Borderlands meets Condemned.
The sequel picks up where the first game ended with the survivors reaching a vessel just as they run out of fuel for the helicopter from the prison. Once landing the group is placed under quarantine by Lieutenant Hardy and experimented on by Frank Serpo. Like every part of a zombie story, things don’t always go as planned and you wake up alone and must make your way out of the lower levels of the ship. But once you make it out you discover that there are zombies within and all over the ship. After making your way on deck you discover that Frank Serpo is a cheap and dirty bastard as he leaves you and your fellow soldiers to die either from the waves of the dead or by the storm that is threatening the ship. After making your way to the front of the ship you get control of the ship back after slaying the zombified captain. Once Lieutenant Colonel Hardy makes his way to the ship controls, a monstrous wave hits the ship and you awaken on the island of Palanai. Thanks to that monsoon, the zombie menace from Banoi is carried over to Palanai. New to the game is a dynamic weather system that will have different weather patterns occurring randomly. Most of the time it is heavy rains that occur.
It is here you discover the biggest flaw of Dead Island: Riptide; it is the exact same game as the original. It feels like Techland made absolutely zero modifications to the game mechanics, and instead just focused on everything else. The four survivors from the first game return and a new face joins the group of immune: John Morgan. He’s an ADF soldier who is a martial-arts expert, and is arguably the best thing about this game. With him comes the ability to sprint kick people. This sends the zombie flying and can sometimes equal a nice quick kill. There’s just something about knocking off a zombies limbs that warrants a Joker grin. Along with this character are more weapons, ranging from wolverine-like claws to, of all things, a tanto. My personal gripe with this is that they are sold for ridiculous prices by merchants. I don’t mean to be a cheap fellow on this, but I doubt something that’s valued at $500 is actually selling for four times as much.
Because of the monsoon that has ravaged Palanoi one of the ways you now need to get around is by boat. When traveling, “drowners” will try to pull themselves out of the water and onto your boat and if you aren’t careful enough they will pull you out of the boat and into the water where they can deal some serious damage. I personally didn’t like the boat system as it felt like a way to pass all the boring areas the developer didn’t want to work on. As a measure of defense you can speed up and cause the zombie(s) to simply explode as the speed increases. The other new implementation is one that does make sense. When you are in a new locale you make your HQ and you must first go through a defensive mission where you put up fences and defend the area from waves of the undead. This would be good if it was a one-off during the beginning but it continues too much. Nearly every new locale you end up making a base at you must first defend from the undead menace. Like the first game there are side quests but they are all mainly fetch quests. Other side-quests you’ll discover while in the middle of doing other quests. One type is “save _______“, you’ll come across a survivor on top of a building, RV, or either sort of high ground and you’re tasked with eliminating any zombies that are near. When Fallout: New Vegas came out 3+ years ago people said that the side-quests weren’t up to par with Fallout 3. I personally thought the side-quests in New Vegas were great. I now see what they were talking about when I do the side quests in Dead Island: Riptide. While the side-quests in Dead Island were fairly linear and easily accomplished, the side-quests in Dead Island: Riptide are awful compared to its predecessor.
Returning to Dead Island: Riptide is the modding system. For those of you who don’t know, you can mod certain weapons in the game to increase the damage of said weapon. As always, they are fun and great when used to obliterate zombie foes. My personal favorite is the liquid fire mod that is a great AoE (area of effect) weapon and useful when a horde is chasing you down. Next to liquid fire is the electricity mod that makes certain weapons, like a wrench, electric and enables you to electrocute any enemies that try and swarm you. Also returning are the various types of zombies you either enjoyed or loathed (probably loathed). Such as the suicider, floater, and butcher. Joining the game are the grenadiers who are zombified soldiers who can still throw grenades at you, wrestlers who can pummel the player and have a spiked club for a hand, and lastly, the drowner who are feigning death in the water but can jump onto your boat and pull you into the water. The standard walkers and infected return as well and I will say that there is nothing in a video game more demeaning that being killed by a zombie wielding a cleaver.
Overall, Dead Island: Riptide is a sequel that really should not have been. Coming out only a mere year and a half after the original felt like an opportunity to cash in on the name on the part of the publisher. Despite having a $49.99 price point, which was a good idea by the developer, there really isn’t much here to warrant a purchase. More likely a rent than anything else. It’s best to let Dead Island: Riptide stay in the grave and let the franchise cool until a real sequel is made.