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Dead Island 2 review: irresistible fun

Let’s find out together, in this review, how was our personal return to one of the most talked about franchises in recent years: welcome to Los Angeles, welcome to Dead Island 2

One of the titles that gave birth to a very specific genre, subjecting it to a mass of gamers not yet accustomed to its mechanics (as it can be today, in 2023) is definitely the first Dead Island of Techland and Deep Silver, weblog 2011. Sidearms and firearms for the dismemberment of zombies of various kinds, a narrative that is never particularly profound, but amusing, and a weapon modification system that, by now, has made history (see the two chapters of Dying Light to him later). After almost ten years of development, several studio changes and a few reboots, we’re finally here.

The recent release of Dead Island 2 on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X | S brought to fruition what has been, all round, an ordeal for the various parties involved. In the end, it was Dambuster Studios, the Deep Silver label which is once again the publisher of the game, who finished its development, also anticipating its release by a few days just to underline the irrepressible desire to make the game known to the whole world. And so yes, finally here we are. We will feel the same emotion in saying the following words only when the subject is Beyond Good & Evil 2. Take a seat: Welcome to our Dead Island 2 review.

And They Fall Down | Review Dead Island 2

Abandoned New Guinea, Dead Island 2 takes us bodily in a Los Angeles (in this case nicknamed Hell-A, very cute pun) completely overwhelmed by the new and now iconic zombie outbreak. The government’s numerous evacuation strategies have proved unsuccessful in every respect and every fort built by a humanity still fighting has collapsed under the relentless spread of the virus. Also crashed is the plane that was supposed to carry our protagonist, selectable from six different unsavory types (we chose Ryan the Stripper… just to give you an idea), outside the city now under siege.

After making our way a few meters into the wreckage of the plane and reuniting with a small group of survivors, our protagonist is accidentally bitten by a hostile creature. Panic, fear: soon we too will transform, becoming self-propelled wrecks of flesh devoid of any human reason. But nothing happens, apparently. Despite the initial confusion and subsequent loss of consciousness, which will make us find ourselves directly in Bel Air, we have kept our sanity and indeed, the bite also seems to be healing.

Dead Island 2 review: irresistible fun

Crimson Sunset | Review Dead Island 2

Well yes, as expected we are part of a very small circle of human beings immune to the Zombie virus. Does this mean that we are invulnerable to their attacks? Absolutely not, but we still represent a hope for mankind. From this premise, the narrative of Dead Island 2 unfolds for about fifteen total hours with some peaks of interest in the first part, to then quickly slip away into a less memorable second, complete with a final that oozes DLC from every pore. Although it is nothing exceptional, however, Dead Island 2 lets itself be “watched” with pleasure, strong in jokes, self-irony and intentionally eccentric characters who partially mimic some stereotypes of modern America. A pleasant company, though not essential, therefore. A company at the main dish of this zombie epidemic.

The gameplay of Dead Island 2 is, pad in hand, simply a pleasure. Dismembering and dissecting zombies around Los Angeles is fun, addictive and very intuitive in every way. Several mechanics already present in the 2011 chapter (and in the two subsequent Dying Light) have returned, such as the possibility of exploiting the workbenches scattered throughout the various areas of the map to modify our weapons by applying particular elements or characteristics to them, using the hundreds of resources that we will find by exploring around.

Dead Island 2 review: irresistible fun

Right On, Frankenstein | Review Dead Island 2

In the first person, therefore, we will find ourselves hitting zombies with less and less improvised weapons, up to adding numerous guns such as revolvers, machine guns and guns of various kinds. The latter, however, do not give the same charm and the same enjoyment of white weapons, which are particularly exceptional in hitting zombies and dismembering them with unique animations for each type of weapon. Seeing the enemies approach us with only a few shreds of skin still holding the limbs attached has a certain effect, we have to admit it.

Each blow inflicted by the various weapons will have an effect on the zombies, which are made up of “layers” if we want to define them that way. And if we still have some doubts about the feedback of the blows, which is not always very spot on (especially when we found ourselves hitting multiple enemies at the same time), the satisfaction of tearing off pieces, ripping off clothing or completely charring opponents using elemental weapon modifications is there from the very first fistfights. In short: pure and true fulfillment, and that’s all we asked Dambuster Studios.

Our protagonist will get experience points for each kill and for each completed mission. Leveling up involves, numerically speaking, a simple increase in Health Points and the gradually unlocking of more skill slots. In each slot it is possible to insert a specific card for that categorygoing to expand the effectiveness of the weapons or giving new skills to the protagonist (such as the basic parry or dodging), thus resulting in a complete modification of the gameplay and how to face the game of Dambuster Studios.

Dead Island 2 review: irresistible fun

Sad Wedding | Review Dead Island 2

To expand the gameplay of Dead Island 2 has arrived the Fury, a sort of Berserker Mode fruit of the bite that our protagonist received at the beginning of the game. In this mode, once the appropriate bar is filled with kills, we’ll be able to tear hordes of zombies to shreds with just our bare hands. We would like to define it as an even excessive possibility, considering the average difficulty level of Dead Island 2, which is decidedly low. Especially if you decide to face it in co-op, the game will in fact be quite simple to complete, thanks to the large amount of ways to restore health and the extension of the paraphernalia that you will find around the maps.

To accompany this not very solid management of the difficulty intervenes the feeling of basic repetitiveness (which characterizes the whole genre a bit, we must admit) that you start to feel about halfway through the game. After all, the mechanics are those and not even the narrative is so pressing as to push on the accelerator of the fun that remains there, at a decidedly high level, but without ever really being able to take that extra step. The missions will all be roughly similar and will always require the same things: mangle zombies and solve simple environmental puzzles of various kinds.

Dead Island 2 review: irresistible fun

Trains, Brains & Automobiles | Review Dead Island 2

Technically speaking, Dead Island 2 stands out as a production of excellent workmanship, especially on next-gen consoles (for this review we tried the Dambuster title on PS5). It is not possible to choose between the two classic graphics modes, but the game comes with a single preset of settings that aims to lock in 60fps at 4K resolution (we assume dynamic?). The frame-rate remained quite stable during our solo adventure, despite some more hectic situations that put it to the test, while we were unable to try the co-op campaign.

At first glance, Los Angeles is really beautiful and impactful, especially from the point of view of the color palette and the details, which are really many and well-disposed to the player’s eye. Both the interiors and exteriors are full of small objects, some repeated in the assets it is true, but which give a sense of lived-in and “interrupted” impact. We have also noticed, however, especially in the most agitated situations, numerous graphical glitches with zombies penetrating walls or doors and explosions that are not always very successful.

The dubbing in English is good, even if some voices have convinced us very little, but overall it manages to do its job. As for the implementation of DualSense in the PS5 version, Dead Island 2 exploits the Sony jewel in a very superficial way, without any kind of particular interaction. A shame.

Dead Island 2 review: irresistible fun

Stay Alive

To conclude this review of Dead Island 2, we at assign all the burdens and honors to Dambuster Studios for having completed a terribly expensive project in an almost commendable way. Dead Island 2 is not a video game that aims to be memorable nor perfect, but to do something that we have recently seen in few other exponents of the medium: entertain. Yes, the gameplay can still be improved and deepened, yes some mechanics have rusted over time and yes, the narrative could definitely have been more impactful (while maintaining the light-hearted and ironic canons of the franchise). All things considered, however, once this article has been published, we already know what we will do: we will return to Hell-A.

Dead Island 2 is currently available on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X | S and Xbox One. Let us know what you think of the Dambuster Studios title below in the comments, we will continue to keep you updated with all the gaming and tech-themed news, guides and reviews! And if you are interested in game keys at advantageous prices, we suggest you take a look at the Kinguin catalogue!

Plus points

  • Irony and black humor at every corner
  • Simple and intuitive gameplay…
  • Entertaining beyond measure
  • Technically valuable
  • Dismembering zombies is more fulfilling than legally permissible

Points against

  • … with mechanics to upgrade
  • Various graphic glitches
  • Below average narrative