Games labeled as being in “development hell” rarely release in a state anyone would want to experience–if they release at all. With Dead Island 2, however, Dambuster Studios kicks away a decade of dev hell problems like they’re a zombie lunging for its throat to deliver an undead RPG that is surely imperfect, but also enjoyable and even inventive.
Dead Island 2 is a first-person action-RPG set against the backdrop of the same zombie plague that caused mayhem in the original game’s story. It moves the series away from its fictional island of Banoi and brings it to Los Angeles–which, you may recall, is definitely not an island. It’s an odd move given the franchise’s name, but a forgivable one once you begin to explore, as the semi-open world of the game’s story and setting prove to be one of its greatest aspects.
None of the game’s many locations are massive, but several of them are big enough, and regardless of its size, each zone is full of secrets, side quests, and plenty of reasons to stray from the main path. Dead Island 2 shirks a true sandbox-style open world in favor of smaller but more authored locales with far fewer repeating elements. It’s ultimately a benefit to the game, as it tends to strike an engrossing balance between width and depth.
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