Dead Island Riptide Review: Zombie on Zombies

by Reads (568)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Gameplay
      • 5
      • Performance
      • 5.5
      • Graphics
      • 6
      • Audio
      • 6
      • Value/Replayability
      • 7
      • Fun Factor
      • 5
      • Total Score:
      • 5.75
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Fun with friends
    • Lots of weapons to create and play with
    • Lots of collectibles for the obsessives out there
    • Dumb fun for a while
  • Cons

    • It's more Dead Island, and that's about it
    • Repetitive combat and missions
    • Throwaway plot and characters
    • Bugs all over the place

Quick Take

Dead Island Riptide is fine enough as an super-sized expansion to the original. Expecting anything more than that will only end in disappointment, however.


A riptide, by most definitions, does not exist. The misinformed use this word to describe a rip current, which is the name for a strong, narrow current of ocean water that runs perpendicular to beaches and is known to cause around 150 swimmer deaths per year. Think of it like the quicksand of the sea. Rip currents have nothing to do with the tides, though, so using the word “riptide” isn’t accurate. It’s a misnomer.

Dead Island RiptideIt’s fitting, then, that Dead Island Riptide cannot be considered a sequel to its 2011 open-world action-RPG predecessor. Developer Techland and publisher Deep Silver have mostly kept quiet on Riptide since it was first announced last June, carefully calling it more of a “spin-off” to Dead Island than an out-and-out follow-up. The deliberate terminology, the relative lack of details shared in the lead-up to launch day, and the fact the game will only cost $50 when it goes on sale tomorrow have led many to think that Riptide will be nothing more than a big expansion pack masquerading as a new title.

Turns out that they’re right. Beyond a new playable character, a few new zombie types, a new gameplay mode and some other minor tweaks, Dead Island Riptide isn’t much more than Dead Island: Part Deux. Now, there were more than a few people who enjoyed the original zombie romp, so this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But those hoping that Techland would tighten up the issues that plagued the original should brace themselves for more of the same disappointment.

It’s apparent right from the game’s setup that Dead Island Riptide doesn’t aspire to be anything beyond more Dead Island. The same four protagonists return in all of their campy, stereotypical glory, and players can even import their character build from the last game if they’d like to pick up right where they left off.

Dead Island Riptide waterfallThis merry band of poorly voice-acted heroes still includes the knife-chucking ex-quarterback Logan, the blade-wielding ex-Hong Kong spy Xian, the gun-toting Aussie ex-cop Purna, and the brawling New Orleans-bred rapper Sam B. They haven’t changed at all, which means they are still little more than floating hands with varying accents. They’re joined by hand-to-hand specialist and ex-Navy man John Morgan, who is a guy in a hat.

These five never evolve beyond their types, giving players little emotional incentive to care about their survival. The cast of side characters and NPCs are the same way. They’re vehicles for killing zombies and little more. The Walking Dead, this is not.

None of them are helped by the game’s barebones plot, either, which is almost exactly the same as the original’s. Instead of having to escape the zombie-infested island of Banoi before it’s nuked, the gang has to escape the zombie-infested island of Palanai before it’s nuked. Then there’s lots of killing stuff.

There are some minor plot twists towards the end of the campaign, and more details can be found in collectible notes and diaries scattered about the island, which is genuinely nice for those who care enough to search the sizable tropical landscape. But lots of players won’t, and this is still the standard “ragtag group of good guys versus shadowy agency of bad guys” zombie tale. Near the beginning of TG‘s campaign, a side character broke the news of the zombie outbreak to Sam B, to which he incredulously responded with something like, “Aw [expletive], again?!” That about sums it up.

Dead Island Riptide waterBut again, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The plot is once more an excuse to let players bash, shoot, burn, electrocute, stomp and explode zombie faces, which would be perfectly fine if the same crop of problems that badgered the first Dead Island didn’t rear their annoying heads again in Riptide.

There are literally three types of missions in Dead Island Riptide: the new base defense missions that are reminiscent of Gears of War’s “Horde” mode; minor, random instances of having to save an NPC from attacking zombies; and fetch quests.

The first of these are competent if unspectacular sequences that involve having to set up barriers, turrets and similar fortifications as swarms of undead gradually overrun the player’s position. When playing with friends – more on that in a sec – this is sweat-inducing fun, as most horde modes tend to be. Playing solo is less satisfying, as AI companions are more liabilities likely to get themselves killed – and abruptly end the mission in doing so – than provide actual assistance.

The second of these are as simple and quick as they sound like. Players see someone surrounded by zombies, kill the zombies, and then get a reward. It’ll probably be a weapon.



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