Thursday, November 30, 2023
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Dead Island: Remastered Review

As someone who never quite got to grips with the theory that holidays are meant to be relaxing, something like Dead Island should appeal to me. That lingering thought of being a consistent bag of work and energy is utilised in an almost primal way. Survival is on the menu, and the running, sole theme of Deep Silver’s efforts here. Effectively a tightening of the screws on a vehicle that was falling apart out of the box, it seems anything can sell as a remaster these days. Being particularly displeased with my experiences with the original, venturing back into a game plagued by bugs, broken combat and boring storylines was a risk not worth taking. But, the Steam sale beckons, it sounds the alarm. Gondor may call for aide, but Steam screeches as the floodgates open, the only thing holding them back being Sam B and a shoddy-looking sledgehammer.

With a whole four characters available to choose from, three useless nobodies and Sam B, Dead Island shuffles along with all the resonance and passion of the brainless undead. Of the mentality that “less is more”, these creatures and bandits are in short supply, dotted about the map like someone spilt tiddlywinks onto a design plan and demanded they remain there forevermore. What isn’t in short supply though are the weapons and upgrades. A singular skill tree simply wasn’t enough, no, three would suffice though. You know what they say, two’s company, three’s enough to cause some desperate, faux resource management as you decide whether or not to upgrade your ability to craft weaponry by 1% or increase the heft of your kick by a decimal place. It all amounts to nothing, but that seems to be the trend for Dead Island: Remastered.

Had this not been powered through with a few friends over a collection of weekends, I can’t be too sure that I would have ever finished Dead Island: Remastered. Once you’ve left the seaside resort the sharp decline begins. Yes indeed. There is no stopping the spiral toward oblivion, the repetitive, yet thankfully responsive gameplay grapples with the player, and there is no way of manoeuvring out or around this obstacle. Combat and shooting felt more like an effort of sheer willpower than something that could be enjoyed. Deep Silver know this, and by the time you make it to the prison island they’ve given you enough firepower to conquer the world, let alone the final boss, which took all of four seconds. As The Beatles once suggested, with a little help from my friends, anything is possible. Game breaking glitches being one such possibility. Stand in the way of any doorframe and watch your friends shoot up into the sky if they so much as brush past you. Good luck with the driving, too, which is as uncomfortable as it gets, seeing as each character needs a booster seat to see above the steering wheel.

Including the word remastered implies there are fixes and changes to be made. Instead, Deep Silver hang that word off of the end of their surprisingly well-loved product like a noose around the neck of any player looking for good, working fun. A slight graphical overhaul makes the game look somewhat better than its seventh-generation counterparts, but not marginally reworked enough to warrant a purchase. Feeble, brittle, and at times just thoroughly annoying, Dead Island: Remastered is an endurance test. For those playing, it is best to make a mad dash to the end, skip past as many encounters as you can, and barrel through the depressingly plodding story that will force players through the sewers, streets and sunny seaside of Banoi. Plagued not just by zombies, but by bugs as well, Dead Island: Remastered is the respective “polishing of the turd” analogy in gruelling form.

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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