Dead Island: Riptide Review


Hey guys! Well after 23 hours of gameplay, I have finally finished Dead Island: Riptide. It’s the review that you’ve been waiting for right? Yes, no, maybe so? Anyway, overall I felt Dead Island: Riptide was a decent hack and slash (and shoot!) game in a zombie apocalypse setting. With that being said, some story and gameplay elements seemed too repetitive or just got to the point of being flat out boring. More on that in a little bit.

Dead Island: Riptide, released last year by Techland and Deep Silver, is the sequel to 2011’s Dead Island, a first-person shooter action role-playing/survival horror game. Riptide continues the plot from the previous game, where “the five survivors arrive on another island in the Banoi archipelago, which has also been overrun by zombies.” I never fully completed the first Dead Island, but Riptide gets the player caught up pretty quick on the story early on in the game.


The game is set on the island of Palanai on the Banoi archipelago, infested with zombies and the remaining survivors striving to stay alive. In the very beginning, Riptide allows you to choose one of the five survivors to play for the duration of the game’s story. After you make a selection, the game starts by showing a helicopter landing on a military aircraft carrier. You quickly learn that your character and the other survivors are taken into custody by the Australian Defence Force. Colonel Sam Hardy, the leader of the Australian Defence Force, and Frank Serpo, a civilian VIP, intends to experiment and examine the five survivors. After being sedated for testing, the five survivors wake up in the brig to find the ship overrun by zombies. The survivors see Frank Serpo fleeing in a helicopter, before the ship loses control and crashes.

Parts and supplies of the ship as well as the survivors and Colonel Hardy wash up on the island of Palanai. Colonel Hardy finally tells the survivors that Frank Serpo’s organization intends to weaponize the infection that caused the zombie outbreak. Hardy also tells them that Serpo plans to launch a nuclear strike on Palanai, to purge the infection and also to cover up the evidence. Over the course of the game you work with the other survivors to move throughout the island of Palanai, seeking a way to create an antidote for the infection that has spread all over the island.


The game is presented in first-person and combines action, role-playing, and survival elements. The game uses an inventory system, so your character can only carry so much weapons and equipment at one time. The role-playing part of the game comes into play by having your character level up when you have enough experience and also spending skill points on skill trees. The skill trees offer offensive, defensive, and “super” skill sets for your character. The “super” skill tree is basically where you can beef up your character – for example, leveling up your stamina and also leveling up how powerful your melee attack is. Players can accept quests within the known survivor group and also from other survivors on the island. Players gain experience and skill points by finishing these quests and main quests for the main story.

Like I mentioned above, Riptide does a decent job for being a hack, slash, and shoot game. Players are able to pick up a plethora of weapons lying around on the island and can also upgrade them when they find a workbench. There are a whole bunch of one-handed weapons, two-handed weapons, throwing weapons, and guns. When the player uses a melee weapon for a long period of time, the weapon “breaks down” and forces the player to repair it. This keeps the player on edge and wary of what exactly they have used out of their inventory.

Survival is also the big theme in Dead Island: Riptide. While the game does a good job of nudging the player to go out and find supplies, I feel like some items respawn too quickly in areas. For example, I was able to farm an entire office area filled with supplies. After I left this area and explored another area for about five minutes, I came back to the same office and found all the items that I gathered previously were spawned back in. This definitely detracts from the “survival” element in the game and could make the game very easy.

The one thing that grinds my gears about this game are the quests themselves. All of the quests are supposed to carry the story forward and add excitement to the main story. Sure, in the beginning its fun to have some missions where you travel from point A to point B, hack and slash (or shoot) some zombies, complete your objectives, and return to your quest giver. But when you do that for the entire bloody game, the gameplay becomes a tedious and repetitive experience. Which is really sad, because all of these quests have potential to be really interesting.

Anyway, the other gripe I have are the actual quest givers themselves and the player’s lame responses to what the quest givers say. For example a survivor could be giving a mission to you, explaining a whole backstory for this particular mission in the most monotone sentences and phrases. And do you know what’s the worst about the tail end of this conversation? When you are given the option to “accept” or “decline” a quest. If you accept a mission, your character blurts out the most generic response ever saying: “Sure” or “I’m on it.” If you decline a mission, your character verbally declines in almost the same fashion saying: “Not right now.” Are you serious? After having a monotone survivor read out a very detailed mission for you, your character essentially does the same thing for a response? Shouldn’t the conversations be more lively and dramatic since its a damn zombie apocalypse after all? But I digress….

The Presentation

Dead Island: Riptide runs on the Chrome Engine 5, which is a proprietary game engine developed by Techland. The visuals in the game are definitely some of the things that the game’s got going for itself. The water effects are done really well and it’s always a fun time to kick some zombies in the water to hear them gurgle while sloshing around. The island of Palanai has adaptive weather, so at one moment you could be running through the grass during the day and suddenly the weather could change drastically to heavy rain. This makes it harder to see and makes the player more aware of their surroundings.

The environments on the island are crafted very well, as they offer lots and lots of details. If you enter a store, you can find shelves filled with bottles, cans, and a whole lot more items. Attacking the zombies also provide strong, awesome visuals. If you have a melee weapon equipped, you can behead a zombie or even cut off body parts on a zombie depending where you aim and attack. The blood squirting out of zombies is truly done in “zombie fashion.”


Dead Island: Riptide was a fun, no-brainer (haha get it?) action survival game. Like I expressed above, for a time the game was enjoyable but ultimately I felt it was repetitive too quickly. I give Dead Island: Riptide a 5/10, as it is a fun, hack, slash, shoot RPG where you can roam an island killing zombies. But the gameplay is repetitive at times and there is not a whole lot of excitement in the main story. I feel like this game could have done a lot better if it had a solid story and more inventive quests.

The game (DLC in this case) I will review next is:


Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 1, brought to you by the same folks who worked on Bioshock Infinite – Irrational Games and 2K Games. Burial at Sea Episode 1 is “the first part of the story-driven downloadable content for Bioshock Infinite. This DLC puts players in the perspective of Booker DeWitt in a new story, taking place in the city of Rapture right before its fall.” I cannot wait to start playing Burial at Sea and re-visit the glorious city of Rapture, which is the underwater city from Bioshock and Bioshock 2. Have a great rest of the week everyone! Until next game.

– John