Review: Dead Island Definitive Edition


Back in 2011 the games industry seemed to be having a case of zombie fever with nearly every other title involving zombies of some sort. While Dead Rising 2 in 2010 was set in a mall in third-person, Techland took us to zombie Paradise in first-person with a plethora of zombies just waiting to be diced up. Dead Island Definitive Edition is a bundle of Techland’s zombie titles Dead Island, Dead Island: Riptide and a bonus game Dead Island Retro Revenge. Having gone through a makeover with Techland’s next-gen engine for the Xbox One is it worth breaking out the sun glasses for a repeat visit? Read on and find out.

Dead Island has to have one of the best intro songs in a zombie game period sang by none other than Sam B. one of the games selectable characters. The song actually sets things up nicely for what’s to come. As your character wakes up from a night of partying, all you know is that before you were helped to your room some strange things started happening. As you venture out into the hotel corridors things just aren’t looking right, in fact the once bustling place seems dead. What follows is a story for a fight of survival against a lush and warm paradise backdrop. You should have been parting non-stop on a holiday of a lifetime but now it’s a holiday to die for, literary. There is more than thirty hours worth of gameplay across both titles so you are in it for the long haul.

There are a number of characters to select from each having there own strengths and weaknesses. Logan for example is a throwing expert but his stamina is only at 80 while Xian is a sharp weapons expert with stamina at 100 although her health is a 90. The characters expertise will determine the type of weapons they are most comfortable using. Be sure to check out their starting stats though as you will be creating all manner of weapons in no time. When you pick your character you level them up in game by completing quests and killing any undead standing in your way. When you level up you are granted upgrade points which you can spend on the choice of three skill trees, Fury, Combat and Survival. These will boost you character stats as well as things like allowing you to carry more etc. They are not all unlock at the start, as they will unlock the more you upgrade. Each character has their own skill trees suited to there expertise in weapons.

The gameplay of Dead Island is your typical open world style with main quests as well as a plethora of side quests. The side quests are worth doing as some are the only way you will get blueprints for particular weapons. Be sure to exhaust NPC dialogue if you are looking to do all side quests as some will only become available due to your actions. Most of the missions are your typical go here find that or go here and clear out this area. It’s run of the mill stuff but when you have a butt load of Zombies chasing you the challenge jumps up to the max. The combat in Dead Island is rock solid and while you will only start out with basic melee weapons like planks of wood and paddles, you will soon be making a baseball bat with a buzz saw for a ripping good time. There are crafting tables scattered about that allow you to create, upgrade and repair your weapons. You are also able to throw your melee weapons which can come in handy when being chased by a gang of zombies. There is also a quick time event when zombies grab you that if you don’t react fast enough, down you go. The games U.I has been updated and is now pretty much the same between both titles making for an easy transition between the two games.

I remember Dead Island: Riptide due to the amazing yet controversial collectors edition with the female zombie torso bust. Personally I would have loved another collectors edition just like it for this collection. Dead Island: Riptide carries on from where the first left off so if you haven’t played them yet I won’t spoil the ending of the first one for you. This title is pretty much the same as the first only done bigger and better. New to Dead Island: Riptide is base defence which you will be introduced to in the first ten minutes or so. You can carry over your character from the first game or start a new.

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Both titles support four player co-op which is a stand out feature for the series. The game adjusts the difficulty depending on the level of the each of the players seamlessly. You might want to experience things in solo play if you really want to be challenged though. It is fun in co-op mode but just not necessary hide behind the sofa difficult since you can back each other up.

Graphically both games have seen massive improvement over their last-gen counterparts. I never noticed any screen tearing in the intro on the first title this time around. Granted on the first title I still noticed jaggy lines although you can clearly see the texture improvements. The lighting in the game has been drastically improved and you now get a more life like glaze coming from the sun. Depicting limbs from the zombies has never been better thanks to updated physics making for a blood splattering good time. There where still a couple of bugs where Zombies would just disappear through the floor, but nothing that detracts from the gameplay.

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Finally we come to the bonus game Dead Island Retro Revenge which is actually a small diamond in the rough. Sporting 16-bit graphics like Sega’s Final Fight this is like a 2D-Beat’em up / endless runner hybrid. It a short game but can get very addictive among those who love high score chasing. Using buttons X, Y, B and A you have to attack certain zombies with a certain button, with a few needing you to use your power-up. Movement is automatic with you just going in between the the three lanes. This is a great title to kill a few minutes and one for those high score chasing addicts.
The Good Things

  • Both Dead Island titles for the price of one.
  • Even to this day the combat is still great.
  • Over 30 hours of zombie slaying fun.
  • All DLC and latest updates in one package.

And The Bad  

  • Quests can be repetitive.
  • Still some jaggy lines in The first title.
  • May not attract those that already played them.

My Verdict…

    I like to think that the Dead Island series was the stepping stone to Techland’s Dying Light. While these two games may be dated now, the overhaul in graphics and the bundled DLC make this a nice purchase if you missed these games the first time round. The unofficial PC Mod “One Punch Mode” has managed to sneak its way in to this collection which is a bonus for console gamers. If you want to suck up the sun in a paradise setting, while dismembering the undead in a 30+ hour adventure across two titles and two sunny locations, then this is for you.


The overhaul in graphics and the bundled DLC make this a great purchase for first time adventurers.

About no1phil

PR Manager & Editor for XLC Gaming Network. I have been gaming since the ZX Spectrum days growing up through many generations of consoles. A bit of a jack of all trades when it comes to gaming genres. When I'm not either being shot at, dancing, scoring for the other team or racing I am trying to become a guitar God with Rocksmith 2014.