Dead Island: Survivors: Short Review

     It's been a little over 2 years since Dead Island: Survivors shambled into soft launch in Norway, and it has finally spread the infection to the global market.  The Dead Island franchise has definitely had a rough patch over the last five years.  Escape Dead Island missed the cel-shaded mark, the highly under-rated MOBA Dead Island: Epidemic was shut down before it could even leave open beta, Dead Island: Retro Revenge wasn't anything like the beat 'em up it was originally advertised to be, and Dead Island 2 is still lost somewhere in developmental purgatory.

     Unlike its Dead Island predecessors Survivors combines base building with tower defense and adds a dash of 3rd person zombie slaying action in as well.  Players are tasked with setting up protective perimeters, laying all manner of blockades and traps, and defending their bases while attempting to round up all the other survivors from the formerly idyllic nearby islands.  Sadly, what makes this one unique addition to the tower defense core of the game go awry with is the absolutely atrocious controls for the character.  When you want to engage in melee combat with a character the control is of the point and click variety instead of a traditional joystick (virtual in this case).  It then locks your camera in and having to constantly adjust to see what you are missing is infuriating to no end.  Trying to attack a specific zombie in a horde is utterly worthless, resulting in wasted attacks and time, which in turn generally lead to losses for the player.  You have to either focus on building and maintaining the defense system OR using the extraordinarily poorly controlled character.  You cannot do both as the other will suffer quite swiftly- creating an awful situation where in the later game you hit impassable walls because you can't do both.  Having to sacrifice one aspect of the duality is not a good gameplay decision here at all.

     Deep Silver’s development studio Fishlabs Entertainment has brought the franchise to the mobile market, but despite the potentially bright rays of sunshine a new Dead Island game might've provided us with, the Banoi Archipelago has seen better tie-in game days (Epidemic), but to be fair, it's also seen much, much worse (Retro Revenge).  There's an absurd microtransaction focus that happens with a great many mobile games by gating off things with an overabundance of timers and an extreme scarcity of resources leading to the inevitable lengthy wait times and slowing down progress to the point of actually discouraging gameplay. 

     As much of a fan of the series as I am, I can't recommend this game at all unless you really, REALLY like the monotonous grind of tower defense games.  Dead Island: Survivors is a case where they might've done far better had they broken the game into either strictly a tower defense, or gone with a simple hack-n-slash adventure game (which is what I had hoped for) as opposed to attempting to merge the two together as an incongruent mess.  That's a very disappointing thing for me to say too, because the visual design is so good in Survivors, and any hope for another mobile tie in game that is truly worthwhile is rapidly dwindling while awaiting the official Dead Island 2 to re-emerge from whatever undead state it currently resides in.

     Dead Island: Survivors [ Google Play ] [ iOS ]

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