Whenever we write about Techland's upcoming zombie apocalypse first-person-shooter, Dead Island, we always start the same way - praising the announcement trailer while remaining cautiously optimistic about the actual game.
With no official gameplay footage available, and a tight-lipped group of developers at Techland, we've had to rely on the somewhat generic looking Dead Island screenshots to get a sense of even the most basic gameplay mechanics. However, with buzz for the title still spreading across the Internet, Vincent Kummer of Dead Island publisher, Deep Silver, is giving us a few more details.
Kummer spoke with the official PlayStation Blog about the upcoming zombie title - as well as the publisher's response to the enormous buzz surrounding the trailer:
“The trailer we released was mostly a blessing because when you put something out there you don’t expect to generate that much interest in the game, especially not for free. However, we are cautious that people might be expecting things from the game, based on that trailer, that simply aren’t there. We’re aiming to make it very clear, early on, what the game is actually about.”
There's no doubt that buzz, and expectations, for the final game could actually work against the title in the long run - so Techland and Deep Silver have a tricky road ahead of them. Many fans were excited about the announcement trailer because it seemed to add a serious and compelling story to the traditional make-your-own-fun storytelling in most zombie shooters. Instead, early previews suggested that Dead Island wasn't going to be providing the mature narrative the trailer seemed to promise - since the first character that's been introduced is a shallow, and over the top, rapper stereotype - Sam B. Though, Kummer promises that's only one side of the equation.
"We have a mixture of gritty, emotional storytelling and over the top characters such as Sam B. He’s the one with the cheesy one-liners to the game but the others are far more serious. You begin the game not knowing anything and you’re going to spend the first two hours figuring that out as people discover that you are immune to being turned into a zombie.”
Similar titles, such as Left 4 Dead, rely on overwhelming hordes of undead enemies (as well as some mutated variants) to provide a sense of anxiety - which, unlike the original Resident Evil or Silent Hill titles, represents a more-action-focused approach. Anyone hoping for a dark and brooding romp through sewers and candlelit mansions may be disappointed to hear that Techland seems to be aiming for a bigger, and more open, action experience. However, much like Dead Space 2, the lived-in resort setting should offer plenty of intriguing areas to explore.
“Our approach to fear is to have the player constantly worried for their life and that desperation that comes from having to survive using whatever you manage to pick up. We’re saying that our environment is a paradise to die for and we’re building a full tropical island. It all starts at the beach hotel but you’re going to see jungle, city and some surprise locations that you won’t be expecting. There are also outdoor and indoor locations that are totally different and we manipulate the weather in certain ways to add a new level of fear.”
The publisher also gave a hint toward what the source of the zombie apocalypse might be - one that isn't couched in a difficult-to-follow bio-hazard-esque canon:
“Zombies are obviously a part of our story and there is of course going to be background to that — it’s not like they’re just going to fall from the heavens. There are so many zombies out there in different media and different ways to use zombies as a metaphor for some failing of human beings. I’ve always liked to think of them as humans reverted to their basic primal instincts, with no good left in there at all.”
Despite a (potential) new approach to zombie-shooters, Dead Island is still drawing from other successful videogame series with four player co-op (drop in and drop out), a variety of playable "classes," as well as RPG elements and weapon upgrades/customizations.
Techland and Deep Silver are obviously attempting to quell the growing impatience, in the gaming community, for a real look at the upcoming title. Kummer presented some intriguing ideas but until we can get our hands on the game, or at the very least see a bit more in-game footage, Dead Island is still far-from being able to deliver on its original promise.
That said, until we get a gameplay trailer, we'll be enjoying all of the creative Dead Island mash-ups.
Dead Island is set for release in 2011 on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
Source: PlayStation Blog