NA Square Enix
|Engine||Chrome Engine 5|
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, survival horror|
|Mode(s)||Single-player, multiplayer (First-person view)|
|Distribution||Optical disc, download|
Dead Island is an action role-playing survival horror video game developed by Polish developer Techland and published by German studio Deep Silver for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It is centered on the challenge of surviving a zombie-infested open world island with a major emphasis on melee combat. It was originally announced at E3 2006, but was pushed back to 2011. It was released on September 6, 2011 in North America, September 9, 2011 in the PAL regions and October 20, 2011 in Japan. A sequel, Dead Island: Riptide, was released in 2013.
Dead Island features an apparent open world roaming, divided by relatively large areas, and played from a first-person perspective. Most of the gameplay is built around combat and completing quests. Dead Island is an action role-playing game and uses experience-based gameplay and character customization, though options are quite limited, it is more character selection rather than "customization". The player earns XP by completing tasks and killing enemies. Upon leveling up, the player gains health and stamina, and can invest one skill point into a skill tree and level up one of their skills.
Combat is carried out through either physical attacks or through the use of melee weapons and firearms. Melee weapons are emphasized to the point that firearms are not available for the first quarter of the game, and consist of blunt and bladed weapons. Melee weapons can also be thrown at targets at any point in the game. Weapons are randomly generated and positioned in predetermined locations as well as found on some enemies; they have unique stats which are generally based on the player's current level. Each weapon can be upgraded three times to increase its stats, and most weapons can be "modded" - customized based on a blueprint to add special features, such as nails or electrified blades, and poison. These weapons will wear out from constant usage and require repairs and careful use.
There is also a stamina bar, meaning that after a set amount of physical action, such as running, jumping, or swinging a weapon, the character needs to stop to regain his or her stamina bar, meaning that having a fight with a high level zombie will result in you often running out of stamina and getting killed. The game features "special class" zombies, which are more powerful than the standard zombie. Players need to use flashlights in dark areas and during night-time sections, adding suspense.
Zombies in the game have different abilities, such as the Infected being 28 Days Later style running zombies, and Walkers being Romero style zombies. There are also other special zombies being Left 4 Dead style.
Dead Island takes place on the fictional island of Banoi, a lush, tropical resort destination located off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The night after a high-profile party, the four main characters (hereafter referred to as "the survivors"); rapper Sam B., hotel receptionist and spy for the Chinese government Xian Mei, former football-star Logan Carter, and ex police officer Purna—are awakened by a voice over the emergency intercom system directing them to evacuate the hotel. They discover that the majority of the population have been overcome by a contagious and infectious disease, turning them into psychotic, flesh-eating creatures. Briefly overcome by one of the infected, they are rescued by lifeguard John Sinamoi. the four survivors discover that they are apparently immune from infection, and with "The Voice" out of contact, the survivors are tasked by Sinamoi to try and find supplies and contact the outside world. As it becomes obvious that the resort lacks enough supplies to survive for long, Sinamoi instead has them travel to the city of Moresby to find help. The survivors take along Jin, the daughter of the infected mechanic who modifies an armored car they use to break out of the resort.
Upon arriving in Moresby, after taking down a new special infected known as the RAM, the survivors aid a holdout at a barricaded church. Directed first to the wealthier sections of town, they ultimately raid a supermarket under the control of "Raskol" gangs, then rescue Jin after she tries to offer supplies to another Raskol faction in the abandoned police station, angering Sam B. Upon their return to the resort, the survivors make contact with "The Voice"; he identifies himself as Colonel Ryder White, a Banoi Island Defense Force (BIDF) commander, currently trapped in a high-security prison located on a remote island, only accessible through the jungle. He states that due to the characters' immunity, he may be able to create a cure / vaccine, and in turn save his infected wife. White directs the survivors into the jungles of Banoi having them find a smuggler named Mowen who can reach the prison.
Mowen stonewalls the survivors on the prison, but does take them to a laboratory studying the infection. The researchers there determine the zombie infection is a mutation of Kuru that originated from the indigenous population. At their behest, the survivors collect a tissue sample from a mummy to better examine the pre-mutation form of Kuru and rescue a native woman, Yerema, who was about to be sacrificed by her tribe.
Mowen finally agrees to take the survivors to the prison. After the survivors complete the preparations he and Jin request, they hurry back to the lab when The Voice reports something has gone wrong; they find the infected the scientists were studying were accidentally released, with only Yerema still alive. Rescuing Yerema and retrieving what appears to be a prototype vaccine, the survivors proceed to the prison island.
The survivors initially help the surviving prisoners to arm themselves in exchange for reaching White, but when White finally contacts them again he urges them to abandon the prisoners and proceed to him. The prisoners' holdout eventually falls, and Mowen dies helping Jin and Yerema escape the zombies. As the survivors are about to reach White, however, they are hit with a knockout gas inside their elevator. Awoken by a technology-savvy prisoner named Kevin, they find that White has stolen the vaccine and are warned that, with it in his possession, he intends to flee with his wife and call in a nuclear strike to purge the island.
Racing to the roof helipad, the survivors find themselves held by White at gunpoint. Jin, disgusted by White's plan, releases White's now-zombified wife from her restraints, and she bites Colonel White on the wrist. White kills his zombified wife and shoots Jin dead, then injects himself with the vaccine, only for it to accelerate and amplify his own mutation. The survivors kill White, then escape with his helicopter as Kevin intones that things will never be the same.
Ryder White's campaign
Two weeks prior to the outbreak, Ryder White, a Colonel in the Australian Army, is interviewed by a commanding officer; he is presented with targets which he was asked if he would kill without question, agreeing to all including, after some hesitation, his wife Emily. Two people viewing the interview note this had him reassigned to Banoi, where Emily also works, and speculate that "he won't push the button because of her."
Upon the zombie outbreak, White is overseeing the bombing of bridges to slow the infection, but his helicopter crashes in Moresby when the co-pilot turns. Alerted that the main bridge in Moresby remains intact, he proceeds to recover the demolition charges from the Raskols and carries out the demolition himself. Throughout he is contacted by Emily, who has taken shelter inside the prison with the help of a man known as Kevin.
Upon extraction from Moresby, Ryder hears from Emily that she has been bitten by one of her infected patients. Disregarding her pleas to leave her, he has himself dropped off at the prison, intent of saving his wife before ordering a nuclear strike to purge the island. By the time Ryder arrives Emily has almost turned. Kevin then contacts Ryder over the intercom, offering to help him as well. When they meet, however, Ryder identifies Kevin as Charon, a notorious terrorist-affiliated hacker. However, with no other options, he follows Charon's instructions to restore emergency power and find antibiotics for Emily, fighting off armed escaped prisoners. Charon also tells Ryder he has survivors en route with an antidote.
After administering the antibiotic to Emily, Charon notifies him that a group of prisoners were approaching in reprisal for the ones that Ryder killed in order to obtain the Tetracycline. With the prisoners dead, Ryder traveled to the control room in Block C and met up with Charon. As Ryder approaches Charon, he discovers that Charon was behind the deaths of the scientists, including Dr. West, at the Laboratory but hides his suspicion. He is then instructed to clear the Infected from the shower room in Block C for when the Heroes arrive. With the shower room cleared, Ryder used the sewers in order to return to the control. While eavesdropping on Charon's conversation with the group(the main characters), he discovers that Charon has been posing as him (The Voice). Out of rage, Ryder threatens to kill Charon for endangering Emily and making him betray his country. Charon then assures him that the group have the 'antidote' and that the Heroes won't trust either Ryder or Charon if it is revealed that they were never actually speaking to Ryder. Charon then instructs Ryder to store knockout gas above the elevator lift that the group will be using in order to steal the antidote from them to avoid having to make any negotiations. After placing the gas and returning to the control room, Charon and Ryder watch the Heroes pass out from the gas. Before leaving to retrieve the gas, Ryder destroys the control room's computer in order to prevent Charon from pulling off any more tricks. He then locks Charon in the control room and tells him that he's going to go get the antidote for Emily. Charon then replied to Ryder stating that the antidote would only work on people that were only in the early stages of Infection while Emily was already past the first stages. Shaken by his words, Ryder ran off to get back to Emily in the intensive care unit. With Ryder gone, Charon reveals that he had a hidden backup key card and taunts him stating that Ryder should have killed him when he had the chance.
Afraid of being too late, Ryder collected the antidote from the group and frantically fought through countless waves of Zombies to get back to Emily. Upon finding Emily, she has already become an Infected. Ryder then vows to make a complete antidote out of the serum and brings Emily to the roof where he discovers that Charon had turned the group against him. Jin then releases Emily to attack Ryder, forcing him to kill her and Jin in retaliation. He then injects himself with the antidote only to discover that the antidote was actually an enhanced version of the virus that transforms him into a powerful Special Infected. He is then killed by the group who fled to safety on Ryder's chopper afterwards. It is revealed that Charon plans on using Yerema as Dr. West called, "a walking timebomb" to spread the Infection, as he shows a smirk on his face.
- Sam B (voiced by Phil LaMarr), a one-hit wonder rap star from New Orleans. He was booked by the Royal Palms Resort to perform his well-known song "Who Do You Voodoo" at a high profile hotel party. He gladly took the chance to play this gig. Once strong, self-confident and proud, Sam B has had a troubled past and a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and his private life became a haze of fake friends and bad advisers. He believed his gig at Banoi was his last chance to get back on top. He also has a specialty of blunt weapons which became very useful during the plague.
- Xian Mei (voiced by Kim Mai Guest), a desk clerk at the Royal Palms Resort. Born and raised by a police commander killed in the line of duty in China, she secretly works as a spy for the Chinese Government. To conceal her covert activities, Xian performs menial tasks for the hotel (as seen in the opening where she helps a sick guest). It is assumed that she does well at keeping her espionage a secret, as all refer to her as the desk clerk. However, during the Jin rescue scene Purna claims that she knows Xian's true nature, and several collectibles show that employees knew she was no ordinary employee. She also has a specialty of blade weapons which became very useful during the plague.
- Logan Carter (voiced by David Kaye), a former American football star, spoiled by life and successful in every possible way. Unfortunately, his own ego finally put an end to his bright future. Taking part in a reckless street race with tragic consequences, Logan not only killed a young woman - his unfortunate passenger - but also fractured his knee, putting an end to his sports career. His fall from stardom inevitably followed and he plunged swiftly into a life of bitterness and despair. He ended up letting a blood drive use his name, and in return received an all-expenses-paid trip to Banoi. He also has a specialty of throwing knives which became very useful during the plague.
- Purna (voiced by Peta Johnson), an Australian Aboriginal former officer of the New South Wales Police Force, referred to by the game as the "Sydney Police department." After losing her career when she shot a child molester (the novelization contradicts this by stating the child molester was killed by her) who could not be prosecuted, due to wealth and connections, Purna then turned to working as a bodyguard for VIPs in dangerous places all over the world. She is mostly hired for her looks (not just her skills), as wealthy men do not mind showing up with Purna on their arm. Purna states she wishes to finish off the child molester after leaving Banoi.
- Ryder White (voiced by Joe Hanna), a colonel with the Australian Defense Force who communicates with the hero in Chaos Overture, providing directions for escape. Ryder has also been in contact with the survivors at the Pool House, advising they evacuate to the Lifeguard Tower. When the hero is able to communicate with Ryder once more at the hotel with Dominic, it is revealed that he is on the prison island and is dealing with his injured wife, Emily White. In the "Ryder White Campaign", it is later revealed that Ryder was not the voice from the main game, instead Charon, also known as Kevin, has been posing as him and was the true villain of the game, not Ryder.
A promotional film, created by UK animation studio Axis Productions and directed by Stuart Aitken, featured the transformation of a young girl into a zombie, played in a nonlinear sequence, was commented upon by Ben Parfitt of MCV. Parfitt praised the trailer itself, but criticized the online reaction to it, writing "It's a video that uses an image of a dead girl and images of her dying to create an emotional bond with a product." Wired exclaimed, "It may be the best video game trailer I’ve ever seen; gorgeous, well-edited and emotionally engaging." However Wired urged caution, stating that Techland did not make the trailer and that "everyone is hyped up about a short film, not the game itself."
Dead Island was originally announced in August 8, 2007 and stated to be released in 2008, developed by Techland and produced by Adrian Ciszewski, but was delayed. An official teaser trailer, titled "Part 1: Tragedy Hits Paradise", was released on May 17, 2011 featuring various gameplay aspects. A follow-up trailer, titled "Part 2: Dead Island Begins", was released on June 6, 2011 along with the announcement of the game's release being set for September 6, 2011 for the US, and September 9, 2011 for the worldwide release. The game's zombies were rendered to have fully modelled layers of meat and muscle, meaning they have a multi-layered damage system with real-time injuries. On August 9, 2011, Deep Silver announced that Dead Island's development had finished and that production had begun.
The game itself has been in development since at least 2005 when it was under the name of Island of Living Dead.
In Australia, a collector's edition was available to pre-order exclusively from EB Games. The collector's edition came with a Turtle Beach X12 headset, Ripper weapon DLC and Bloodbath Arena DLC. The collector's edition in Canada has the Ripper and Bloodbath DLC. On July 20, Dead Island became available for pre-purchase on Steam as a single copy of the game for full price, or a four pack with one copy free. Both the single copy and the four pack include the Ripper and Bloodbath DLC.
In PlayStation Home (North American version), the PlayStation 3's social gaming network, users could pre-order Dead Island from a special kiosk in the Central Plaza (Home's central meeting point redesigned for this promotion and includes a "Zombie Survival" minigame) and receive an "Exploding Zombie Outfit" (features a remote option for users to explode) for their Home avatar.
Deep Silver funded a four-part series of comedic short films written and starring hosts of Talkradar from the video game journalistic website GamesRadar, entitled Dead Island: Secret Origins. The film depicts fictionalized versions of the hosts who travel to Dead Island and become zombies out of choice. There is also a novelization with the same name, released by Bantam Books on the same date to accompany the game. The novelization differs slightly from the game, with more mature themes and an alternate ending that were presumably unsuitable for the game.
On March 21, 2011, gaming licenser ESRB announced that the original version of the Dead Island logo was not suitable for release in North America, and Deep Silver was told to change it. Instead of the hanging corpse in the original logo, it was changed to a zombie standing by the tree. This logo change appears on the boxart of the North American release (the logo in-game, however, remains unchanged), with the logo remaining unchanged in other territories. In Australia, the game was released a day early, instead of its intended release date, September 9 by EB Games.
Dead Island was offered for free to Xbox Live users with a Gold Membership as part of Microsoft's "Games with Gold" program. It was available to download from Xbox Live until February 15th, 2014. 
Dead Island received mostly positive reviews from critics. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PC version 77.80% and 80/100, the Xbox 360 version 72.84% and 71/100 and the PlayStation 3 version 71.78% and 71/100.
IGN gave the game an 8.0/10, criticizing the game presentation, glitches, various bugs for the consoles, and texture loading, but praising the atmosphere and overall feel of the game and stating that the game's pro-points are significant enough to outweigh its cons. Official Xbox Magazine (UK) gave the game a score of 7.0/10, stating that while it falls short of its potential, there is more than enough to make up for the in-game issues, while the US version gave it 8.0/10. Computer and Video Games awarded the game a more negative score of 6.5/10, stating "This budget zombie thriller ain't too pretty but could manage to capture a cult following." However, Edge magazine gave Dead Island a 3/10 score referencing a very large number of gameplay and technical issues.
The Microsoft Windows version of the game also received many negative reviews from magazines and websites stemming from an accidental release of a development build of the game on Steam. This included features such as no-clipping and the ability to toggle third-person perspective. Rock Paper Shotgun also noted that the code revealed references to Xbox 360 version. Developer Techland released a first-day patch seeking to address as many as 37 issues. A patch for the console versions has been released and fixed many issues, including corrupted savegames. The PC version still to this day has many user reports of gamebreaking bugs including being unable to use savegames.
The game was not released in Germany, due to the amount of violence. Dead Island was sold in some German online stores such as Amazon Germany, for a limited time. It was indexed in November 2011. "Gender Wars", an unlockable skill for the playable character Purna which increases her combat damage against male opponents, was referred to during development as "Feminist Whore". Although changed throughout the game before release, the original name could still be found in debug code on the PC version. Publisher Deep Silver described the line in question as a "private joke" made by one of the developers, and regretted its appearance in the final product.
A one issue comic book version of the series was released by Marvel Comics, and begins with Roger Howard, an investigative journalist, as he looks into the illegal exploitation of Banoi Island's resources. He appeared in the game as a voice, leaving behind tape recordings.
The story begins just as Roger Howard arrives. He explains why he is at the Royal Palms Resort, and then begins to target Kenneth Ballard the Royal Palms' manager. After gaining access to his office, Roger finds detailed files on Xian Mei, Purna, Logan Carter, and Sam B. After going through the files, Roger hears a knock on the door. Before opening it, he begins to explain that he was looking for the bathroom. Unfortunately, after opening the door, he comes face-to-face with a zombie. The story then ends, with Roger's fate unknown. In the video game, audio logs of Roger are found, with him slowly going insane from being infected, and when the survivors reach the prison, they find his last audio log, which implies a prison guard killed him once he became infected, with the log found next to (presumably) Roger's corpse.
The audio logs detail his journey, which is revealed that he and a group of survivors tried to escape into the jungle, but crashed. The driver and Roger were attacked by an infected Orangutan, with the driver dying and Roger escaping. Roger makes it to the prison, and he states he is making this log for scientists to see the full symptoms of infection, and starts hallucinating about his son.
On September 27, 2011, Lionsgate has announced that they have acquired rights to develop a film based on the game's release trailer, as its portrayal of a family desperately fighting for their lives provided artistic inspiration.
Concurrent with the game's release is a novelization based on the game's events.
On November 3, 2011, Techland registered the name "Dead World". When questioned about this by IGN Gaming, they denied a sequel was in production. On June 5, 2012, at E3 2012, Techland officially announced another game in the Dead Island universe, a sequel under the title Dead Island: Riptide. The ending of Riptide also hints towards another continuation.
On August 7, 2013, Deep Silver announced a new game titled Dead Island: Epidemic. As a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game, Epidemic has three teams of players battling one another for survival while facing the hordes of undead that inhabit the series. Epidemic will come to PC at an as-yet-unannounced date, and will be free to play. Deep Silver said it will have more information on the game at Gamescom.
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