Game: Dead Island: Ryder White DLC
Publisher: Deep Silver
Available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Make no bones about it, Dead Island was a very long game; reminiscent of First Person RPGs like the Fallout series, you would be hard pushed to have finished Dead Island within 30 hours. However, after the initial beauty of the first island area made way to the more dank, dark, claustrophobic areas of the other, less fun, areas, many players may have found themselves stopping and moving onto something else entirely.
With Ryder White, Techland have explored more of what happened on Banoi to take players back into the Dead Island canon. Does it do enough to call players back to the Zombie infested paradise?
If you’ve not finished Dead Island, then some things will seem a little confusing in the Ryder White story. You may realise right away that he’s the voice you hear very early in on the game, guiding you along the way to safety, but you may not realise he had a whole story of his own taking place the entire time you were playing the main game, with a few twists and turns along the way.
It all ties into the main story of Dead Island pretty well, explaining a lot of what was happening that the player couldn’t see before, but if you’ve finished the story of the game, you’ll already know how Ryder White ends. The story itself (despite the voice-acting) is enjoyable throughout, giving you enough to pull you through to the end and find out if what you think is going to happen, actually happens.
Colonel White starts the game at level 15, and the game itself is single player only (no co-op like the main game) with no real save system, merely checkpoints at regular intervals, meaning that if you die, you’ll start no more than a few minutes before you failed. You’ll have to start the DLC from the “New Game” section, selecting Colonel White as your character, which is slightly odd as there is a menu for “Extra Content”, which you’d think you’d be able to use to launch the add-on.
However, the biggest difference between Dead Island and this downloadable content, is that after the half-way point, Ryder White becomes heavily based on guns, with the melee action taking a distant back seat. The paucity of guns on offer doesn’t actually affect the gameplay in a negative way though, because it is almost a relief to go from struggling to survive with melee weapons, to gunning down waves of zombies with the shotgun, pistol and rifle.
Sadly, whilst you do return to the more luscious outdoors of Banoi for a little while, these outdoor sections are, for the most part, the more raggedy apocalyptic areas (cars on fire, scaffolding everywhere) and there’s none of the jungle exploration that you may have enjoyed before. After the half way point, you spend the entire rest of the campaign inside, retreading corridors, which is where the respawning hordes do tend to become an annoyance, as you barrel toward the finale of the Ryder White add-on; there’s only so many times you can run the same gauntlet (or one that looks the same anyway) before you want a new environment.
Veterans of Dead Island won’t find anything new here, which may or may not be a point of contention. Techland have rather skimped on the “new” part of the add-on, with the lack of new achievements being rather telling, there are also no new super-zombie variants either and you’ll spend the entirety of White’s time killing zombies, with the occasional human thrown in for good measure. This new content isn’t particularly long either, clocking in at roughly 4 hours, so the cheaper price point makes sense and feels fair.
VERDICT: Despite itself, Ryder White is actually enormous fun. Most players will probably finish it in one sitting, which isn’t a slur on its longevity, more a credit to its playability. Where some may have found Dead Island sprawling in its enormity, maybe even too daunting, Ryder White doesn’t outstay its welcome.
If you loved Dead Island, then, for the price of admission, the decision to return to Banoi for Ryder White’s adventure is a pretty easy one. That said, there’s nowhere near enough new content, aside from a different take on some story beats from the main game, and it is very gun-heavy, as opposed to the melee combat players may be used to. If you’re jonesing for more first person zombie killing, then Ryder White is Dead Island-lite; the RPG elements almost completely non-existent, this is just brainless fun, Dead Island style.