Escape Dead Island Review - Better Off Dead

Stew Shearer | 2 Dec 2014 12:00
Reviews - RSS 2.0

The issues with Escape's story are perhaps emblematic of the game's problems as a whole. While it brings a lot of good ideas to the table, the plot is clumsily executed. This isn't Spec Ops: The Line, skillfully drawing back a curtain of mental instability. Escape Dead Island makes it almost too clear early on that Cliff is something of a crumbling cookie and frequently steps across the border of silliness as it hammers this point home. This doesn't keep the game from pulling off some standout moments, but it definitely stopped it from resonating as deeply with me as I think its writers were hoping.

Far more troublesome than the story problems, though, is the fact that it's just kind of a slog to play. Excepting occasional bits of genuine challenge, most of the game is spent chasing objective markers while mindlessly hacking your way through hordes of cannon-fodder zombies. To be fair, there are spots where it employs these enemies well. You'll find yourself overwhelmed by a large grouping, or come to a catwalk where you'll suddenly find yourself flanked by a zombie that was hidden in plain sight. Most of your foes though are just set in your path to give you something to kill while you run from point A to point B. Many can be run past without even the slightest bit of consequence.

It doesn't help the game provides virtually nothing to do outside of its dull combat. While Cliff makes his own weapons at points, he does it without any player input. There's also barely an inventory screen, no leveling system and the arsenal of weapons is scant at best. You'll find a variety of melee weapons over the course of the game, but they're unbreakable and will automatically replace your older, weaker item. The guns are limited to a pistol and a shotgun, both of which were more of a pain than they were worth. The shotgun especially astounded me with its seeming inability to take down a standard zombie at point-blank range. There are some collectibles to pick up, as well as the occasional opportunity to approach things more stealthily, but they're not the game's focus and do little to make up for its lackluster core.

It's a shame because it really feels like a little more effort is all that's stopping Escape from being a solid experience. If the developers had maybe just invested in limiting your resources or giving you more control over weapon creation and management, I think they could have produced something entertaining and even memorable. As it stands though, Escape From Dead Island is about as bare bones as modern action titles get, dropping you into a linear adventure where the only real activity is to smash skulls for 10 hours. The end result is a game that feels ultimately kind of pointless. Escape Dead Island just isn't fun enough to warrant your time or money, especially with some of the other recent and upcoming releases landing in store shelves.

Bottom Line: There isn't much reason to play Escape Dead Island. The narrative has a few standout moments and you'll occasionally meet an enemy that will throw you for a loop. Those moments are, unfortunately, needles in a haystack of monotonous gameplay that's ultimately boring.

Recommendation: Play something else. Heck, go and play the original Dead Island. It was halfway decent and will cost you less than Escape's $39.99 price tag.

Comments on