The Dead Island announcement trailer has to be one of the best video game trailers ever made. It’s almost live-action graphics, emotive soundtrack and heart-breaking storyline combine to make a marketing masterpiece. For those who haven’t experienced it, here it is, courtesy of IGN Entertainment,
It’s gritty, dirty and downright horrific, but it hits all the right notes from a design and marketing perspective. The tragedy that befalls this family is thick in the air no matter how many times you watch it, emphasised by that beautifully simple piano melody in the background. Simply put, this trailer made me excited for the game, far more so than Valve’s Left4Dead and Left4Dead2 games ever have. However, I have heard that the game does not centre around this family and do not feature prominently through the story [needs citation].
The creators missed a beautiful opportunity to completely turn zombie shooters on their heads.
To alot of people zombie’s should be exactly what they have been for years in video games, something to enjoyably and unmercifully kill without remorse. Frankly this is now becoming tired and overused. In recent years zombies have featured heavily in the gaming industry especially since the release of the aforementioned Left4Dead franchise back in November ’08. Dead Rising, Dead Space, Zombie Driver and other dedicated zombie shooters have mostly been the same old “kill zombies, it’s fun” that have now become dull and predictable. Even games like Borderlands, Red Dead Redemption and the Call of Duty franchise have all managed to profit from zombies with downloadable content or, in Call of Duty’s case, zombie mini-games. What the zombie killing genre needed was the game I hoped was in this trailer, a survival horror zombie game with a compelling and emotional story and real characters you could relate to and empathise with in a way very few game genres could pull off.
The trailer is beautifully designed with this in mind, but for whatever reason, the game appears to be yet another zombie kill-fest. In my mind, the trailer’s story should have been the end of Act 1 of the game with the mother in the trailer as the protagonist. The family arrives on the island in good spirits for their holiday but quickly hear about an unknown infection breaking out in a nearby town. Warned to wash their hands and offered to leave the island with a refund, they decide to stay anyway since the infection hasn’t spread to the town they are planning on spending their holiday in. Besides, they’ve been looking forward to this holiday for months and paid good money to relax for a week. Naturally the infection spreads more quickly as soon as the hospital in the nearby town is taken over and thus the eventual invasion of the family’s hotel. Narrowly escaping death and witnessing the zombification of her husband and daughter, the protagonist flees the scene and spends the rest of the game fighting her emotions, zombies, and unfriendly survivors in her constant struggle to escape the zombie horde. Now that would be a great experience.