Dead Island: Definitive Edition Review

Richard Walker

Rejoice! For another collection of remastered video games have arrived, and this time it's Dead Island's turn to receive a lick of digital paint. For anyone yet to experience Techland's Dead Island and its comparatively rubbish sequel, the Dead Island Definitive Collection provides the perfect opportunity to get involved. Both games have been suitably spruced up, and are bundled with all of their accompanying DLC. There's even a bonus retro spin on the series thrown in for good measure, all at a very reasonable price.

In these post Dying Light days, Dead Island hasn't aged all that well in terms of its narrative and overall presentation. But as a 'switch-your-brain-off-and-just-enjoy-the-ride' kind of experience, the first Dead Island still holds up today. Its brutal melee combat remains gratifyingly gruesome, as you lop off limbs and heads with reckless abandon, or stomp zombie skulls into mush with a stomach-churning squelch, and simply running or driving around the exotic environs of Banoi is never anything less than pleasurable.

It's only a lack of polish and finesse in the way its story is delivered, with B-movie voice performances and a whole litany of fetch quests dressed up in a number of different ways that let Dead Island down somewhat. Yet the core mechanics are so inherently sound that it's easy to forgive any shortcomings. It's a shame then that Dead Island: Riptide is so much less effective than its predecessor; poorly paced and not nearly as enjoyable, despite the addition of water-based game mechanics, boats and barricades with which to keep the undead hordes at bay. The overgrown, soggy island of Palanai is rather dull too, possessing none of the variety of Banoi.

The last three years certainly haven't made Riptide any more palatable; it's still the same pale imitation of the first game, throwing perpetually respawning zombies at you from all angles, while rolling out a number of tired and predictable quests. Less a sequel, more a glorified Dead Island expansion, you're better off leaving Dead Island: Riptide to drown with the other flotsam and jetsam. In the Definitive Collection, Dead Island is really the only game of the two that's genuinely worth revisiting.

Then there's Dead Island: Retro Revenge, included as an added extra for the two game compendium. A side-scrolling runner cum beat 'em up, Retro Revenge is a strangely addictive curio that's worth checking out for sure, but you can see why it hasn't been given a fully-fledged release. Its 16-bit visual appeal gradually gives way to frustration the more you play, and it's incredibly repetitive too. Hell, you could conceivably get through the whole thing just dodging and mashing the A button.

Each game has its own allocation of Gamerscore too, so achievement hunters are well catered for here, and each game's list is perfectly serviceable, if a little heavy on the grind. There's a fine spread of tasks across both games, however, so there's ample incentive to dive into co-op and mix it up with friends. The only downside is having to play through the dreadful DLC if you want to bag every achievement. Both the Bloodbath Arena and Ryder White add-ons are not good at all.

Offering solid value for money, the Dead Island Definitive Collection is a fine remaster job that makes the first Dead Island well worth going back to for another round of wanton zombie slaughter. Dead Island: Riptide isn't quite as glitch-riddled and messy as it was upon its original release, although it's still far from perfect and has too many flaws to recommend. Both games are a bit shonky, but at least the first Dead Island remains an enjoyable ride.

In a nutshell, the Dead Island Definitive Collection is a decent package containing more slightly wonky zombie pummelling than you can shake a big, electrified machete at. For the asking price, it's certainly worth diving back into.

Dead Island: Definitive Edition

Dead Island Definitive Collection is one of the better value remastered bundles currently available, serving up one genuinely good game, one relatively crap sequel, and a reasonably enjoyable bonus game in Retro Revenge. For the cash, you could certainly do a lot worse, and few other games do zombie slaughter quite so well.

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Parts of the audio tend to be a bit buggy, while the voice acting with its cringeworthy accents is pure B-movie shlock. Not Dead Island's strongest suit.


Dead Island and its follow-up were never really much to look at, and although character models have been improved, they still look a bit rough around the edges. The environments, for the most part at least, are fairly hard to fault though.


The first Dead Island is still enormously fun, making the act of smacking down and slicing up zombies an endlessly enjoyable task. Riptide takes the formula and hamfists the whole thing somehow, but the simple act of bludgeoning the undead is still ace.


Dead Island is really the only thing that's genuinely worth going back to in the Definitive Collection. Riptide isn't completely irredeemable, but it pales in comparison next to the first game. Retro Revenge is a nice little extra too.


A total of 3000 Gamerscore to be had across all three games in the Definitive Collection mean hours upon hours of objectives to complete. There's a lot of grinding to be done, and you'll need to band together with some friends in co-op, but there are some decent tasks to pursue here with a good spread.

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