Escape Dead Island is somewhat of an odd game. It’s odd in the fact that it is releasing to minimal hype, and it’s odd that it’s not considered canon in the overall Dead Island franchise. The game is a spin-off action adventure game that is based around the world of Dead Island that developer Techland created a few years back. Protagonist Cliff Calo is heading to the island of Narapela (part of the Banoi chain, from the first main game) to investigate the happenings of the reported outbreak. You end up working with the protagonist from Dead Island to try and solve the mystery around the zombie outbreak, while trying to solve your own mystery at the same time. Saying too much would give away plot points, but the plot itself is just merely average, so it’s a bit disappointing overall. Besides, who plays Dead Island games for the plot? The first game was all about zombie killing, something that Escape Dead Island is a bit lacking on.
Stylistically the game is pretty nice. It does away with the more realistic graphical look in favor of a cell shaded/comic book style and changes viewpoints from first to third person. Everything looks pretty nice due to the art direction change (one that was likely made because the original Dead Island style wouldn’t hold up so well with PS4’s and Xbox One’s in the wild now) and the game runs fairly smooth on the PS3. The game looks to be open world, but much of that open expanse is blocked by poison gas or other impediments which only goes to disappoint users, especially if they’ve come from Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto V, or Assassin’s Creed, all which released not so long ago. The gameplay itself does feature some zombie killing, but some of it is optional as there are stealth sequences and there is not near as much hacking zombies as the main Dead Island game features. The gameplay also features one of my pet peeves, gear only useful in a few specific areas. You’ll eventually find yourself with a grappling hook only to realize there are very few locations to actually use it. This happens with other gear as well. As cool as it seemed back in the Metroid and Castlevania days, when you have an “open” world game you shouldn’t limit the player’s traversal options when they get new tools, it only goes to frustrate. The game also features a poorly implemented checkpoint system, often forcing me to watch scenes again before being able to play. With that being said the game isn’t overly hard, but when you do die it becomes a pain.
Issues like the above aside, Escape isn’t a completely terrible game and is playable for someone looking for more in that universe until Dead Island 2, but it’s really not worth paying full price for. The game looks decent but relies on weird or old mechanics to make it all work, you’d be much better off playing Dead Island 1 again or waiting for 2 (or even Dying Light) in the near(ish) future. If you do find yourself in the mood for a zombie romp and get the game on sale, though, you will find a bit of fun, just not enough to keep you coming back time after time.
Escape Dead Island Trailer