Dead Island: Retro Revenge PSN [REVIEW] #deadislandretrospective

So, we finally arrive at the last entry of the Dead Island retrospective, just in time for Dead Island 2 to finally release in stores, tomorrow actually, which sounds still kinda crazy to me after that memorable first teaser trailer with Pigeon John’s Da Bomb, but we’re almost there, for real this time.

The only game left is Dead Island Retro Revenge, which was originally released as a bonus game to entice people in buying the Dead Island Definitive Collection, with the main serving of that being the remastered/definitive edition versions of Dead Island and Dead Island Riptide, but can also be simply bought on Steam, PSN and X-Box Live for 5 bucks, and it’s actually well worth it.

Which is surprising, because while i do enjoy the Dead Island mainline games, i also fully understand why people hated them (i initially did too), but oddly Retro Revenge i’d say its the unexpected better one of the lot, as it keeps the series tradition of copying someone else’s shtick, but this time they chose One Finger Death Punch as the blueprint, and didn’t overcomplicate it.

But first, the plot, or the tiny narrative that exists to justify the game.

You’re a Jack Black-styled person living in a van, leasurely enjoying the very videogame you’re technically playing (yep, the dude is playing Dead Island Retro Revenge as well in the opening cinematic), but some bad dudes steal your beloved cat, Nick Furry, so you swear to follow these awful bastards and get your “retro revenge”, i suppose.

And guess what? It was a dream you – as in “Jack Blick” and his redhaired beard – had after falling asleep by playing too much of the game on the sofa with his red cat.

Well, not all was a dream, but whatever, the animated opening and ending cutscenes, both curated by Powerhouse Animation Studios (Netflix’s Castlevania, Blood Of Zeus, OK KO Let’s Be Heroes), are cute, and the retro aesthetic is pretty solid, even if overdone and the stages full of meme references and such, which in this case i find kinda cute, but mileage might vary on this

In terms of gameplay, as i straight up said before, it’s One Finger Death Punch, which might not be known as much today, but it’s basically a cool twist on the brawler/beat em up genre, where you faced off waves of enemies with a very simple control system: left click/button for enemies that attack you from the left, right click/button for the ones from the right.

Despite sounding incredibly simplistic, it’s an incredibly easy to learn system with a lot of depth under its deceiving control system, also offering a lot of challenge.

It also got a sequel, and imitators like I Am Snout, or Kung Fury: Street Rage, and Retro Revenge (developed by Empty Clip Studios, also behind A King’s Tale: FF XV and the april-fools “Streets Of Kamurocho”) actually does more with the idea, by making it an auto-scroller with lanes, that ties kicks, backpunch, high punch and high kick to the face buttons (yeah, play this one with a controller), with emphasis on perfect timing your hits, with specific combos needed to kill specific enemies and-or to use their corpses or items they leave as projectiles, useful to deal with the explosive zombies, for example, but also to pre-emptively have a lane of enemies dealth with.

By perfoming good you will able to use the superweapon selected in the load out, as well as the rare but screen clearing magic power, and eventually you might find medikits to restore one of the 3 hit points available, so it never feels cheap, it’s challenging but it’s quite doable with training and trying over and over, refining your mastery of the moves and how to maximize the multiplier for incredibly high scores (which are definitely NOT handed to you, at all).

The main offering is the Adventure mode, the story mode of the game, with 24 levels spread across 3 worls, each introducing more and more new obstacles and enemy types you’ll have to learn how to deal with, requiring roughly 4 hours (which is exactly how long as it should have been) to see the ending and unlock Marathon mode and a horde based Survival mode, pretty self-explanatory.

Honestly i’m not lamenting the lenght because those 4 hours are quite good, the extra modes encourage replayability as do the trophies and the scoring system, you’ll have to play a lot before you know how to achieve those perfect, all stars rating, so if you’re into that you’ll find something fun to get good at, so to speak.

So yeah, Dead Island: Retro Revenge was (and still) indeed quite the delightfully good surprise to stumble upon, especially considering it was basically promoted (and most likely commissioned) as a bonus thingie to push the rejigged original Dead Island games by Techland, one does not expects a short yet satisfying solid take on the One Finger Death Punch formula for a Dead Island game, of all things, that lasts as long as it needs to be fun and not drag itself out for the worse.

Might actually be the best game in the series so far, and i might be just partially ironic about it.

Worth checking out if you like 2D brawlers, retro style art and zombies. 🙂



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