Every year when a game comes out and gets negative reviews, and then you happen to rent it or buy it, you always want to keep an open mind and think that it isn’t as bad as the reviews or friends have made it out to be. It helps that you go in with pretty much not knowing why a game is considered to be good or bad, and see what you come up with when you finish the game. Do you like a game that no one else liked? Good for you! I am just saying what I think about a game. Sometimes I disagree with reviewers and critics, but sometimes, you can’t deny when a game is terrible. Escape Dead Island is one of those games. While it isn’t the worst game offered this year, the game is incredibly flawed, and it’s even sadder that it’s terrible because it comes from a developer that has made some good games! Let’s see why Escape Dead Island doesn’t work.
The story revolves around three college kids named Cliff Calo, Linda Waterson, and Devan Mavropani. They decide to go to the island of Narapela which is close to Banoi, a fictional island, Their mission is to uncover the truth behind an incident where Banoi was cut off from the rest of the world due to some kind of horrible event, which turns out to be zombies. However, once you arrive on the island, you will take control of Cliff Calo and try to survive the zombies on the island and other threats that may or may not be actually happening. Yeah, this game has a Spec Ops: The Line kind of storytelling, where the game messes with your head, and makes Cliff hallucinate. Are you on a zombie island, or aren’t you? The game’s story also tries to come off like a grind house-style film like “Planet Terror” where the acting isn’t really the best, and you shouldn’t take the story too seriously. I have my problems with this, and I will talk about them later in the review.
Escape Dead Island is a third-person-stealth-action game in the same vein of games like The Last of Us. You will travel across the entire island of Narapela, and backtrack to many locations from the air base to the top of a mountain. Along your journey, you will find a multitude of weapons, from a main melee weapon to a shotgun. However, if you want to save your ammo, you should probably take the stealth route since not every zombie needs to get killed. Plus, the zombies will respawn from time to time so you won’t be running around an empty island too much. The variety of zombies you will encounter run the gambit of zombies that can leap, shoot long-range snot, zombies with blade arms, and zombies who have such strong vocal cords that heavy metal bands that like to scream would be jealous. You can even push zombies into environmental kills, like them getting fried by electricity. Outside of the combat, back-tracking, and stealth, you will be able to collect documents, tape recordings, and postcards, and that is pretty much all you get out of the main offering of the game. It takes about six hours to complete, and there isn’t much else to the overall experience.
The comic book cel-shaded graphics are probably the game’s best aspect. The colors are bright, and the game has its own kind of visual flair, even though you can tell by some of the rough looking graphics that this game is a budget title. And honestly, that is all I have to say about this part of the game. I say that because the rest of the game is pretty much terrible everywhere else.
So, what is wrong with this game? Well, a lot. First off is how horrible the story is executed. It tries to be both a grind house film with actors who aren’t really giving a hoot to elevate characters who are actually rather unlikable. At the end of the game, I didn’t care whether the three college kids got out alive or not. The worst part about this story though is that it tries to also tie in a psychological warfare aspect as to where the entire event is a hallucination on Cliff’s part. You then end up with a story with unlikable, bland, and boring main characters in a grind house-style universe. It tries to also be Spec Ops: The Line at the same time, but with the hallucinations not really being explained. The reason why the psychological warfare works in Spec Ops: The Line is because in that game, we are connected to these soldiers who think they are doing what is considered to be the right objective. You then keep questioning yourself about what would be the right thing to do in a certain situation, and if your overarching mission is actually worth it. Escape Dead Island at no point made me think that. Since this game wants to be taken seriously and be over-the-top at the same time, the combat doesn’t reflect that. The combat in this game is awful. It doesn’t feel strategic or satisfying, since even though you can get stronger weapons, you don’t feel stronger. I always felt the same even if I had two guns and an axe on my body. What’s worse is that zombies become damage sponges, and that makes the already terrible combat even worse. It doesn’t help that the game’s enemy variety isn’t all that varied and memorable. If this game wanted to be grindhouse-esque, then why didn’t they go over-the-top with its combat? Even Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z goes all super-fast and over-the-top with its combat, and I don’t like that game. Escape Dead Island’s music is forgettable, and I honestly couldn’t remember a single tune this game had. It just seems like this game doesn’t know what it wants to be, since the tone of the story doesn’t mix well, the combat is sluggish and not satisfying or gave me a feeling of power, and the characters had no, well, character. In my opinion, the budget title excuse doesn’t work with this game. I get that this is a spin-off game and a budget title at that, but that shouldn’t excuse its $40 price tag and its horrible design. Even the most positive reviews of this game are still saying it’s not a great game. Oh, and I ran into a game-freezing glitch in the beginning cutscene, along with a few other glitches that drew me even more out of the experience.
This isn’t as bad as say Rambo: The Video Game, Magus, and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, but this is easily one of the worst games of this year! If you picked up Dragon Age Inquisition, Little Big Planet 3, or Far Cry 4 the day this game was released, you did yourself a favor. However, if you think I am being too harsh, you should check out Escape Dead Island yourself. Again, it’s only six hours long and if you want to spend the $40 it cost to buy this game, then go right ahead, but in my opinion, you can do better than this game. If you want a third-person-stealth-action game with “zombies,” then you should just buy The Last of Us Remastered Edition, and if you want an over-the-top action game, you should go and buy Bayonetta 2! Since 2014 has been such a hugely underwhelming year, I don’t even think budget titles should get a free pass if they are awful, and Escape Dead Island should not be a trip worth taking anytime soon.
This game gets a 3 out of 10