Sometimes bad games are fun. It’s weird to think of, but it’s true, because each and every one of us has a guilty pleasure or two. Not only that, but there are certain genres that simply appeal to some more than others, which can lead to differing levels of enjoyment. Take the Dead Island franchise as an example, because it’s easily one of the more polarizing in all of gaming. Some really enjoy the series for not trying to be more than it is, and presenting simple but fun gameplay that allows for tons of gory zombie kills, while others detest it and don’t understand how a third game in the mainline series is in development.
Although both sides have raised valid points in the aforementioned, never-ending argument, I side with the first group. For some reason, Dead Island‘s mix of light RPG gameplay and satisfying melee combat excites me. Sure, it’s far from the most polished or well-made set of games on the market, but it’s pure, unadulterated fun. There are bugs, and they’re not well-hidden, but I can overlook them and simply enjoy the experience. Still, no matter how much of a guilty pleasure those titles are, I would never put them up there with some of the industry’s best, like The Last of Us. They’re in different leagues, to say the least, but both are fun in their own way.
When I heard about Escape Dead Island, I didn’t know what to think. Here was news of a side story to a franchise that wasn’t even that well-received in the first place. To boot, not only was it planned as a mere complement to both the original Dead Island and Dead Island: Riptide, but it was set to add depth to their familiar first-person vantage point, by releasing as a third-person effort. A third-person mindfuck, to be exact. Needless to say, I wasn’t sure of what to think, though I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited by the idea.
Developed by Fatshark, and published by Deep Silver, Escape Dead Island is the story of one Cliff Calo. A ripped, fun-loving sorority boy type, he’s decided to steal his rich father’s luxurious yacht and sail to a distant island in search of a news story. Now, I know what you’re thinking: It’s Banoi that he’s headed to. That’s not the case, though, because Escape isn’t set on the same piece of sand-covered land as its predecessors. Instead, all of the messed up and blood-soaked action takes place on a separate landmass called Narapela Island. It’s new, but becomes a pivotal piece of the series’ lore as things progress.
With friends in tow, Cliff embarks on his journey with money in his eyes and awards on his mind, but things quickly take a turn for the worse once his pretty redheaded pal becomes a zombie’s supper. Following that hair-raising and potentially fatal event, he’s forced to alter his goals and make finding a potential cure his top priority. Still, looking for a cure falls in line with his original goal of learning more about the island and Geopharm, the company that has set up research laboratories on its idyllic surface.
Things don’t actually begin there, though, because Escape has two playable heroes and Cliff just so happens to be the second one we get to control. The first is on a similar mission, it seems, and is not only dressed for the part but is packing as well. His codename is KILO 2 and the black-clad ninja’s story is set two days prior to the outbreak on Banoi, which was the pandemic that set the tone for Dead Island‘s plot, not to mention its unforgettable teaser trailer. Conversely, Cliff Calo’s tale takes place six months later, following the events of the other games. Both men are in search of answers, though, and they’ll stop at nothing to get them.