by Christopher Coke
reviewed on PC
Like any good apocalypse scenario, scavenging resources and crafting new items play an important role. As you venture across Palanai, you will encounter lost backpacks, wicker baskets, suitcases, and many more containers that can be rifled through for supplies. Often you will uncover food stuffs and energy drinks which replenish your health. Tangible supplies can be taken back to work benches scattered across the island. If you've found a blueprint, these items can be used to create specially modified weapons, such as a superheated sword or electrified pistol. Money is important since each repair, upgrade, or crafted item also has a cost. Cash can be found almost everywhere, however, so coming up short is only a temporary setback.
Over the twenty or so hours of content, you will take quests from a number of other survivors on the island. Again, the story is pretty lacking and players shouldn’t expect the tear jerking sentimentality promised in the trailers. Instead, you should be ready for lots of zombie slaying that is masked as glorified fetch quests. If you liked questing in Fallout, Riptide will be right up your alley.
The disappointing narrative is buoyed by its engaging setting. Palanai's jungle reaches are beautiful and very well realized. I genuinely enjoyed exploring even without a quest telling me to do so. Travel is also ‘fun’. Mowing down zombies in a pick-up truck rarely gets old and zooming through channels in boats is a nice addition. Hidden around the island are dozens of Easter eggs and collectibles to drive future replays. Found audio recordings give account of the survivors in their last moments. It is here that emotions run deep but whether they will resonate or fall flat depends entirely on the player.
Problems Rise Again
The most unfortunate quality of Riptide is that the developers failed to address the numerous complaints lodged with its predecessor. Textures can still be muddy and indistinct and NPC models - especially zombies - can seem downright made of plastic. Frustrating animation glitches also rear their ugly head. More than once the game displayed my weapon making contact but inflicting no damage on the walker. Some animations feel unrefined, as if missing frames. Most of the game performs well, but even on our relatively powerful review machine, I noticed more than one slow down.
The game still features the inconsistent and sometimes cringe-worthy voice acting from the original too. Certain cutscenes are well done, as are most of the quest givers, but every now and again a series of lines is delivered so out of character that it stands out in a terrible light. Even at a budget price, Riptide should have been better.
Time for a Sequel
Although Riptide features a New Game Plus mode, I find myself calling it a day. I enjoyed the game, just as I enjoyed the original, but that's the thing: I enjoyed it -just- as I enjoyed Dead Island. Riptide offers very little to keep the franchise fresh and instead focuses on giving us more of the same. For series newcomers, Riptide is undoubtedly the better game. As a fan, I was happy to receive it, but until a numbered sequel comes along, my time in the tropics is through.
Viscerally fun combat, lots to find and explore, more of the same
Lackluster story, inconsistent voice acting, more of the same