A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dead Island is a violent, open-world action game set in a remote island resort that has been overrun by zombies. Players move between enclaves of survivors, carrying out tasks and killing countless zombies in brutal, gory fashion along the way. Adult narrative elements, including alcohol, drugs, brief talk of sexual abuse, and strong profanity, validate the game’s Mature rating. Parents should also note that this game supports online cooperative play with open voice chat for up to four players. Common Sense Media does not recommend open online play for pre-teens.
What's it about?
DEAD ISLAND places players in the shoes of one of four survivors (players choose their protagonist at the game’s outset) who wake up after an evening of drunken high jinks at a remote island resort only to find the atoll swarming with zombies. After hooking up with a small group of survivors, it’s your job to head out into the undead apocalypse armed with whatever you can find -- knives, pipes, the fender of an old pick-up truck -- and carry out missions necessary to the group’s continued survival, such as finding keys, carrying messages, and looking for engine parts required to fix vehicles. The island is open to roam, which means players have free license to explore large swaths of the resort at their leisure, carrying out multiple tasks at once. You can even join up with other players online who are working on the same missions. As the game progresses, players earn points that can be applied to level up special skills, as well as upgrades that can be used to modify weapons.
Is it any good?
Zombie games are a dime a dozen these days, so it’s nice to see one that’s had a little thought put into it, even if it isn’t perfect. Dead Island takes a concept gamers are used to thinking of as global -- a zombie apocalypse -- and places it in a controlled microcosm in the form of a secluded island resort. However, thanks to the open nature of the environment, the game world still feels larger, more random, and, consequently, scarier and more realistic than most other games of its ilk. Add in a subtle leveling system, customizable weapons, and a clever drop-in cooperative system, and you have a zombie actioner unlike anything else available.
The graphics aren’t great, the controls are a bit touchy, and it can be pretty hard -- especially if you try to work through the entire campaign without enlisting the aid of other players online. That said, it’s one of those rare games that will stay with you, if not because of its horrific, overarching plot then because of its smaller, more affecting scares, such as watching helplessly as a descending plane radios for help before crashing into the jungle. Zombie fans won’t want to miss it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games. What markers do you look for in determining whether a game is too scary or violent for your kids? How can you determine what your kids are capable of handling?
Families can also discuss online play. Do you find you communicate differently with others when speaking to them online? Have you found that it’s easier for someone to be mean to someone else if they don’t know them, or if they can’t see or hear their reactions? How can these situations be avoided?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
- Subjects: Language & Reading: following directions
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together
Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, investigation, thinking critically
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Deep Silver
- Release date: September 6, 2011
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore; Drug Reference; Intense Violence; Sexual Themes; Strong Language; Use of Alcohol
For kids who love fast-paced games
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.