With the release of the Dead Island Definitive Collection you get the original game along with Dead Island Riptide, which is an extension of the first game and a sequel of sorts. The two definitive editions are “fully remastered” versions of the original last-generation games, complete with all DLC and patches. Dead Island: Riptide Definitive Edition can actually be bought separately for £12.99, however you only get Dead Island Retro Revenge if you purchase the complete bundle.
Dead Island Riptide, which I will refer to as Riptide from now on, is a standalone expansion for the first game and follows the story of the main characters we met in the first game as they tried to escape the island of Banoi, this time with the addition of a new character called Kevin, the prisoner. Riptide is pretty much what you would expect after playing the first installment, with fun gameplay, gorgeous locations and the ever looming threat. Once again the story is not the main focus of the game but still works well in the overall context. A nice touch is that you can carry your character over from the first game, but it doesn’t really matter if you haven’t played the first.
Riptide carries on straight after the events of the first game, so I don’t want to give too much away if you are planning on playing the original but its safe to assume that the four original characters are still in danger. They have ended up on a military ship hoping for safety, which unfortunately doesn’t go to plan. Like the first game you wake up, this time on the ship, where zombies are running wild. From their things get out of control and you end up washed up on the island of Palanai. It’s not a particularly original or impressive start but it does set up the premise and new location for the game nicely.
This time around there are a couple of tweaks to the gameplay but nothing too major. This time with Riptide there is a sort of tower defense style game mechanic that sees you defending your base from waves of zombies by setting up barriers, barbed wire fences and other obstacles. I actually really enjoyed this element to the game but it felt overused at times. Like in the first game the melee combat is a major part of taking on enemies. Crafting new weapons is crucial for your survival and finding new blueprints within the world means you can start to craft and modify new weapons. Once you have the blueprint you have to go out and scavenge for the required parts. This is really fun and I enjoyed the risk and reward element to searching for parts. Upgrading weapons and making them more powerful can make such and difference and greatly improve your chances of survival.
The fighting and combat feel very similar to the original game, which some people find too clumsy and sluggish, but I actually like the hands on combat. It always feels desperate and it feels like your constantly moments from death. Killing zombies is bloody and brutal throughout. I didn’t mention this in my first review, but I really like the slow motion critical kills on enemies. You can also kick to stagger zombies before launching in with the powerful melee attack, shattering bones and severing limbs. I also want to mention that this remastered version has improved not only the visuals but also how the game runs. It’s still not perfect but it feels a lot smoother, making the movement and combat feel more satisfying.
The upgrade system and levelling is much like the first game and you still put points into the three skill attributes. Skills carry over from the first game, but you do have the option to start a new character if you want to start again. This time around we see some new enemies, which keeps the gameplay feeling fresh. The enemies can range in speed, strength and types of attacks. I enjoyed having to switch up how I approached each situation as I explored the island. The island of Palanai is flooded in parts, meaning you have to use boats to cross areas of water. This felt like it was an interesting idea but unfortunately it always felt slow, clumsy and awkward. Like the first game, Riptide still has its issues but it does feel fun and I still had as much fun as I did the first time I played it. As in the original, the online co-op mode lets up to four friends play together.
The presentation once again looks great and the remastered version has added some nice visual improvements like lighting effects and improved textures to the world. The setting is beautiful and made me want to explore every nook and cranny. The sound design is great and I played the game with a headset, which I would recommend if you like feeling immersed in the world. The sound of groaning zombies in the distant can feel unsettling and lets you know that danger is waiting ahead.
Like the first game, Riptide feels like a low-budget zombie movie, but that’s not a bad thing and the game totally knows what it’s trying to achieve. Like I said in my first review, I can see how games like Dying Light have taken ideas and inspiration from these games and improved on them. I would certainly recommend Riptide if you enjoyed the first as it gives you more of the same plus a few new gameplay ideas and mechanics, as well as a new playable character. The graphics have been greatly improved, making the world look even more beautiful, even if there are zombies stumbling about and blood splattered on almost every surface.
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