Escape Dead Island Impressions
The Good: Fun Comic Book Art style, combat and stealth are fun, Sound Effect Popups
The Bad: Short (3-4 hours without collectibles), Hidden Ending,
The WTF: Shifting World that feels hindered by lack of flushing out
Escape: Dead Island is an amazing game hindered by a lack of faith in it by the publisher. What results is a short hobbled version of a grander planned experience. Deep Silvers lack of faith radiates sharply with a complete lack of advertisement for the game leaving my discover of its release solely to pure luck.
The game is short, roughly 3-4 hours if you don't care at all about the collectables. I do, obsessively, so with them you can grind out an additional 2-3 hours. During which you'll be treated to a 3D metroid style world with hidden weapons, collectibles, and health upgrades galore. Through the collectibles and pictures you take with the camera you'll receive the majority of the back-story, of the virus's lore, the villains motivation, essentially everything.
On the other hand, the main story is hobbled, short, and feels salvaged. It and its characters would be entirely forgettable without the flushing out the lore collectibles provides them. Without spoiling the ending, I must say it doesn't resolve anything, but there is a hidden ending. Unlocking it is as mysterious as unlocking the 4 bunkers in game, and help for doing so as of this writing is entirely none existent.
Gameplay wise the game does well. There is a simple stealth system that you will rarely use, but the main combat mechanics (Melee and guns) flows fluidly, with each blow results in a reaction from any creature. Once timing is perfected for the harder enemies they're easy although time consuming to dispatch. Dodge mechanic is responsive and a pure requirement for combat. Without its use enemies will auto lock onto you, rarely missing.
Stealth is deadly, especially after recovering the knife allowing for instantaneous takedowns. Sneaking up on unaware enemies allows for stealth kills, dropping the enemy instantly regardless of class. It is extremely satisfying to get a higher tier mutant this way. Unfortunately level design often hinders stealth, levels are often narrow and compact leaving little to no room to sneak behind enemies with only a few exceptions. Important linear areas typically boil down to combat only, with a few opportunities for thinning the horde.
Aesthetically the games comic book, heavy black lines and pop up sound effects give the game a fantastically fun feel. Hit walls, sound effect, hit enemies, sound effect, steam coming out of a pipe, sound effect. Without a doubt the sound effect popup were my favorite feature. Details are not skimped on, characters are detailed, while mutants/infected have a few variations are largely the same class to class.
What stops me from recommending this game is the lack of conclusion it has. It's something that is nearly impossible explain without spoiling what happens after the end so spoiler warning : The game circles back to the beginning of its own events. There are hints that something else is going on, but answers and satisfaction are relegated to the hidden ending. Price wise I feel good about the game, but I got it last minute prepurchase while on sale, giving access to Dead Island 2 beta and a first issue of the Dead Island comic. Without these perks I'd wait till the game hits around $20 to pick it up.