Dead Island Riptide (PlayStation 4 Review): More Zombies, More Fun?

There are endless amounts of sequels throughout gaming history. A lot of them do much to elevate the stories of their previous titles. Some of them are terrible flops. Dead Island Riptide is neither good nor bad. It simply just exists as a decent continuation to a what remains a really good zombie game. In sequential fashion to my review of the first Dead Island, let me take you along through the flooded streets of Palanai, to see how Dead Island Riptide pales in comparison to the original game.

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Intro – Was Dead Island Riptide a rip-off?

One of the few good things about Dead Island Riptide is being able to fly around the flooded island of Palanai in a speed boat.

The first Dead Island was a smash-hit in my personal opinion. One of the better zombie games in the genre, and a delight to play. Dead Island Riptide did its best to respect it predecessor, but falls a bit short of the incredibly high bar the first Dead Island set for it. It is a good game for the most part, but some of the shortcomings of the game tie directly into what most would call a rushed, money grab type of project.

Its no secret that the lack of success with Riptide put the Dead Island franchise on hold for a long time, and even saw the control of its development sold off to a new company. As much fun as Dead Island Riptide is to play through once, it just doesn’t live up to the rush of what the first game was. Let’s take a look at why, as well as highlight the few redeeming qualities of the first “Dead Island 2”.

Story – The only real justice to the original Dead Island

Diving into the secrecy behind the zombie virus is pretty epic. Even if the characters you interact with aren’t all that great.

Following immediately after the story of the original Dead Island, Riptide takes you quite literally straight into the coast of the new “dead island”, called Palanai. After escaping Banoi on a military war vessel, it inevitably ends up crashing when the zombie outbreak from the first game finds its way onboard, via the remainder of the survivors. You continue on and now have to fight your way from the ship to the island, and once again, find a way to save everyone. After saving everyone, you’re then faced with the repeat goal of getting off the zombie infested island once and for all.

After gaining much more insight on what happened with the zombie plague, and who was behind it, you end up with a good feeling of completion once you finally get through Dead Island Riptide. It goes hand-in-hand with the narrative of game one, and does not disappoint in its continuation. The story of Dead Island riptide is definitely its best factor overall. In fact, I personally believe the story is really the only reason to even play Dead Island Riptide more than once.

Gameplay – It really did not change

Though the action is intense, the gameplay just doesn’t live up to the original.

Dead Island Riptide might have been a good story, but beside that, it was pretty much just a copy-paste of the original game. Sure the island is brand new, and there are some new characters and enemies, but overall it was all but the same exact game. The mechanics are just as good as the first, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but also isn’t really good considering there were nearly three years separating the two games.

They did some things like increasing the size and speed of certain zombies to try and make it appear to be a much more difficult game, but realistically its just too easy in general. In comparison to the first Dead Island it is much easier to get good weapons making the game super easy at the times it feels like it should be super hard. On top of that, if you put any amount of real exploration time into the game, you level up so fast, it almost makes the game boring. I think the point was to make it seem like you were still the same powerful zombie-slaying expert from the end of the first Dead Island, but in my opinion, I think it took away from the overall quality of this title.

One redeeming factor of the gameplay was, admittedly, the new enemies and weapons. The Butcher and the Wrestler are both awesome additions to the original zombie freaks of the Dead Island franchise. The addition of both new mods and new types of weapons also made it even more fun to annihilate groups of zombies in barbaric fashion. It just stinks that these new features were overshadowed by the monotony of the games unevolved mechanics.

Graphics – More of the same thing

Cool dead things do not equate to higher graphic quality. Techland missed that memo.

The graphics of Dead Island Riptide are in the same boat as the gameplay. Its just more of the exact same thing from the first game. They increased the quantity overall, but slacked on the quality in the details. Dead Island has great graphics for its time period, so you would think its follow-up would step it up and deliver in the same department. You would be wrong though, the graphics look more like a rough remaster of the original more than an upgraded sequel. It was truly disheartening as a huge fan of the first one.

Seeing as the graphics are on par with its predecessor, and the first Dead Island hit the nail on the head with its graphics quality, I guess you could argue that means Dead Island Riptide was just as good. I, however, think the opposite and that overall they missed the mark on taking this game a step above the last. If anything it really feels more like a step back in the graphics area.

Replay Value – I’d rather go back and play the first Dead Island!

Although chopping off undead heads is great fun, its a much better experience in the first Dead Island.

There is arguably some replay value to Dead Island Riptide, seeing as it does have some better mods and more enemies. The Dead Zone boss fights make for some added entertainment to try and tackle post game. The skills and weapons make for some entertaining slaying as well. Realistically though, I’d much rather just go back and replay the first Dead Island.

It’s not that Riptide is a bad game, it’s just simply not as good as the first one. It seems rushed and thrown together. The new island Palanai was beautiful, but not quite the paradise that Banoi was. The new playable character, John, was pretty cool, but really not as good as any of the original four. Even the end game fight was super dull and predictable. Really the only reason to play was to see how the story ended, and that was kind of disappointing as well.

As far as the replay value of Dead Island Riptide, I personally think that its really only worth a play through if you want a refresher on how the story of the Dead Island comes to an end. I’ve replayed Dead Island at least five or six times in my life. I don’t see myself revisiting Dead Island Riptide anytime soon, though. Experiencing it to make this review was worth it, I guess, but it just didn’t make the cut for me. I was not impressed with anything apart from a having a legitimate closure to the original.

Conclusion – Dead Island Riptide is probably the best, worst sequel ever

Dead Island Riptide was a good game, it just wasn’t the great game I was hoping for.

The story of Dead Island Riptide, to me, was its only real saving grace. There just simply is not enough of an upgrade from the first Dead Island to this title. It was worth a single playthrough to me and not much more than that. I cherish the original Dead Island and have yet to play Dead Island 2 (Dambuster Studios, 2023), so this being the only sequel to Dead Island I know makes it come up short in comparison to its great predecessor.

Overall I give Dead Island Riptide a 6 out of 10. The otherwise lackluster follow up is slightly redeemed by its great continuation of the first game’s story. I think Techland could have done a lot better of a job on it’s second game, and truly wish they would have. Instead we got left with what seems more like a money-grab remaster rather than a decent sequel. Here’s to hoping Dambuster and Deep SIlver did the franchise more justice in 2023 with the release of Dead Island 2.

The new enemies were one of the only noteworthy additions in all of Dead Island Riptide.

Dead Island: Riptide serves as a continuation to 2011’s Dead Island. It was developed by Techland and was released on April 23, 2013 for the PlayStation 3 and other systems. You can purchase the digital game for $19.99 on the PlayStation Store.


  • Great Story Continuation
  • Awesome New Enemies
  • Cool New Weapons
  • Even More Gore
  • The Dead Zones were fun


  • No real graphic upgrades from the orignal
  • Gameplay gets very dull due to unevolved mechanics
  • The characters, outside of those that are playable, are the absolute worst
  • Feels more like a remaster than a follow-up
  • No real replay value
  • Does not live up to the original

Dead Island: Riptide

Above Average

Dead Island Riptide is far from a bad game, yet is no where near as good as the first Dead Island was. For fans of the games lore, its worth a playthrough to get some answers, but besides that, it has no real replay value. As far as killing zombies goes, its a fun game, otherwise, I prefer the original Dead Island.

Zachary M. Cain
PS3 version reviewed.