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GameZone's 31 Games of Halloween 2013: Dead Island

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Posted by: David Sanchez

It's impossible to deny the fact that a lot of horror movies are often quite dumb. Don't get me wrong, they're fun, but they're dumb fun. This is true of a lot of slasher flicks — the Thorn trilogy in the Halloween series and pretty much every Friday the 13th movie after the second one instantly come to mind. Of course, nowhere is dumb entertainment more prevalent than in zombie flicks. Somewhere down the road, these types of movies began taking themselves quite seriously while simultaneously seeming like parodies — it's kind of weird, actually.

Dead Island is a great zombie game, because it kind of incorporates the same tactics that a zombie movie would. It's completely dumb, but it's still a pretty serious affair, which makes it weirdly entertaining. This time on GameZone's 31 Games of Halloween, we're going to visit the zombie island of Banoi and shoot some undead freaks clean in the face. Before we do that, though, if you missed our last entry where we took a look at Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti, check it out.

Dead Island - 360, PS3, PC - 1

Why it stands out

Remember that first Dead Island trailer? That clip was pretty amazing, showcasing some CG goodness coupled with dramatic piano music. It really seemed as if the zombie genre was going to get a nice dose of newness. Sadly, that wasn't exactly the case when Dead Island was finally released. In all honesty, though, that was okay. No, this didn't mark an impressive new direction for these types of games, but ultimately, it still made for a fun zombie-themed romp.

What makes Dead Island such a blast to play is its accessible nature. Despite a few simplistic crafting, shooting, and RPG mechanics, this game is all hack-and-slash action. You come across loads of melee weapons, and you're often tasked with searching areas that are filled with hordes of zombies. There's something strangely cathartic about smashing a zombie's face in with a crowbar. Thanks to the crafting mechanics, you can even build some really crazy weapons to cut those suckers up. It's not the deepest gameplay, but the first-person action is surprisingly satisfying.

Dead Island - 360, PS3, PC - 2

Is it scary?

Like a modern zombie flick, Dead Island has its scary moments. Specifically, whenever you enter a dark corridor or enclosed space, you just know something's going to come at you from out of nowhere. That's not the case all the time, but it happens enough to keep you guessing, and it can be genuinely frightening. It's good that Dead Island doesn't always toss a zombie or two in a tight area, because otherwise it would be too predictable, and the excitement would be lost after a while.

One of the things I found pretty damn unsettling was the screaming from certain enemies. Aside from basic zombies, you've also got more powerful enemies known as thugs. These zombies are much larger than the regular enemies, and you usually know they're nearby when you hear this loud, disturbing scream echoing throughout the island. I vividly recall playing Dead Island while I had a friend over, only for her to respond to the zombies' grotesque shrieks by saying, “That sounds terrible!” Indeed it does.

Dead Island - 360, PS3, PC - 3

Why play it on Halloween?

Zombie movies have gained notoriety for being equal parts awesome and dumb. Chances are if you like that sort of thing, you'll absolutely eat up Dead Island. It's definitely on the goofy side, but even then, it's still a lot of fun. This isn't the kind of game you play because you want a super serious zombie adventure. If that's what you're after, there's always The Walking Dead. If you're into brutal action and indiscreet gore, however, this trip to a tropical zombie hell is an adventure well worth taking.

Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.

Tags: Dead Island, Techland, Deep Silver, Halloween

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