There's a lot you can do with an island full of zombies. Deep Silver has used the setting for its survival horror action games, Dead Island and Dead Island Riptide, and it's upcoming Dead Island 2, which will launch in 2015. It has used it for its multiplayer online battle arena game, Dead Island Epidemic. Now the same tropical island swarming with the undead is playing host to Escape Dead Island, a survival game that focuses on stealth and mystery.
Developed by Swedish studio Fatshark, which has worked on titles like War of the Roses, Lead and Gold and Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2, Escape Dead Island is the Dead Island series' foray into a story-driven game. Where previous Dead Island titles focused on the thrill of fearlessly hacking and slashing through hordes of zombies, Escape Dead Island requires players to approach it with more tact and thought.
The game is set after the events of the original Dead Island. The player's character arrives on the island weeks after the initial virus outbreak that turned everyone into zombies. He and his friends are tasked with finding out what happened. The player is not immune to the zombie virus and, at the beginning of the game, is not equipped to fight them, either. This means a lot of the game is spent sneaking around trying to avoid zombies, rather than running into a crowd of them, guns blazing.
In a demo of the game Polygon recently played, the only weapon we had in an early level was a screwdriver. The screwdriver could only take out zombies from behind, which meant we had to be stealthy in our approach. If we were seen, there was no way to fight off the zombies, and our only option was to run. If the character finds himself in a situation where he is surrounded by zombies, he might as well be dead.
This new-found vulnerability means players have to be tactical. As the player progresses through the game and increases their inventory of weapons, they'll be better equipped to handle confrontations, but even then, the lack of immunity to the virus means it's best to go unseen where possible.
The demo we saw also hinted at a supernatural/psychedelic component of the game. The story is told through loops, and players will often be suddenly transported from one part of the island to another with seemingly no explanation. Psychedelic events will happen, and it will be unclear if it's a result of the island itself having supernatural qualities, or if it's all in the character's mind.
A Deep Silver spokesperson told Polygon that players will be on the same page as the game character: they'll be just as confused and they won't know if what they've experienced is real or fever dream. The spokesperson said everything will make sense further into the game.
Escape Dead Island will launch on the PlayStation 3, Windows PC and Xbox 360 this fall. The game will retail for $39.99.