Deep Silver really seems to want Dead Island to stand on its own as a potential brand. The franchise went from a single, highly talked about cinematic trailer to a mediocre first-person survival game, to several loads of DLC and spin-offs, and now it's being turned into a horror-mystery game with all the same survival tactics gamers have grown attached to since the series' nascence.
Polygon managed to get some hands-on time with the recently announced demo, detailing how players will start off with nothing special but a screwdriver and attempt to get by the zombies and out of the area. According to their brief preview, players are required to be more tactical and aware of their surroundings as opposed to games like Dead Rising where you can just barrel through hordes of zombies.
In this regards, the game is played more for stealth and thrills as opposed to straight-through hack-and-slash action. Additionally, weapons will be sparse, so players will be forced to think about how use makeshift items where applicable. That trend is expected to carry over from the original Dead Island.
As for the story.... well, we know that players will assume the role of Cliff Calo and that he's investigating what happened on the island, but outside of that it's all kind of hazy. Deep Silver gives players a slight setup on what's going on (or rather, what's not going on) with the debut trailer below. Check it out.
The trailer depicts the game as a cross between Catherine, Runaway and Dead Island.
The game's mystery factor could really help explore and expand the game's potential as more than just another third-person zombie game. However, in the same way that a story-oriented zombie title could easily bring in a brand new audience and expand the game's potential appeal, it could also work against the title as far as replayability goes.
Oftentimes games that are heavily reliant on the story make for poor games to replay, such as The Last of Us or Remember Me. Games that focus on telling one singular story usually run their course pretty quick since a lot of the gameplay unlocks are tied to the story progression and a lot of the story progression is limited to the linearity of the stage design.
There has yet to be a game where they found a perfect bridge between cohesive, character-driven storytelling, amazing gameplay and deep replayability that isn't Grand Theft Auto or Red Dead Redemption.
Whether or not Deep Silver and Fatshark Studios can pull it off with Escape Dead Island is completely up in the air. From the looks of it the game certainly has a lot of potential, but it's coming into a rather crowded and well saturated zombie-survival market. The main thing is whether or not it'll be able to find its own identity amongst all the other top tier games due out this fall.
You can look for the game to launch on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC this fall.