And now for (another) something different
The next Dead Island game isn’t Dead Island 2. Of course, Dead Island: Riptide already showed the series’ disregard for numeration. Counting the early access MOBA, Dead Island 2 should be Dead Island 5. But Dead Island is doing things differently in order to “create a universe in this IP.”
And from this comes Escape Dead Island, a single-player only, cel-shaded “survival mystery” that’s “Groundhog’s Day meets Memento.” I wouldn’t go that far. It’s something different, though.
Escape Dead Island [PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360]
Developer: Fatshark Sweden
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release: Fall 2014
Contrary to the above image, Escape Dead Island is a stealth-reliant (and story-focused) game. Those two things are interwoven, too. Escape is in part a response to critique of the series’ absent characterization and story (hence no multiplayer). There’s even a mysterious, Emmy-winning writer behind the script.
The story, like the aforementioned Groundhog’s Day, loops. Escape‘s lead is part of a three-person documentary team trying to figure out what’s going on on the closed off island from the first game (it’s six week after those events and bridges Dead Islands 1 and 2). This, of course, gets the three stranded on a terrible island of zombies.
You play as Cliff, the loudmouth of the group. He’s got some obnoxious combat barks. Cliff’s (other) problem is that he keeps waking up at 4:37 and going through time loops, during which he will end up scavenging items that will then be used to open up new available branches. It’s a fairly linear world, but with different branches, a “3D Metroidvania, like Darksiders or Zelda.” Cliff also experiences color-drained Insanity segments.
I played the fifth or so mission of Escape, which was actually the first time Cliff encountered a zombie. Without weaponry, I had to sneak around the zombie and get to a rope, which I used to get down to a beach. That rope, then, becomes part of cliff’s inventory and he’ll hang on to it when he cycles back.
From the beach, the goal was to meet up with the ambitious woman and hipster wearing a scarf in a tropical climate that are the rest of Cliff’s crew. Sneaking through some buildings, I found a screwdriver, which could be used for stealth kills as some mysterious person kept calling phones in the office I was crouching through, alerting the zombies.
After making it through the area, I ended up looping back to washing up on the beach with Cliff’s crew. We walked around for a while, listening to them talk at me, until we reached a point where I’m told, from then on, the game would be more “like a Dead Space” in that you’re in communication with your friends, but not directly, and they don’t entirely believe everything you’re going through.
If you’re counting, there’s been a number of grand comparisons to some well-liked things (I just last night dreamt Bill Murray was evicting me, but he felt bad about it). I don’t anticipate Escape Dead Island will live up to any of them. It’s a different look for the series, though, and will release to the past generation of consoles for a more appropriate $40. Those who buy get access to Dead Island 2‘s beta as well.