In the last twenty-four hours, zombie horror game Dead Island has climbed into the top trending topics on Twitter and has merited coverage by numerous blogs and entertainment sites thanks to a provocative three-minute “announcement trailer.” There are even rumors that the property is being considered for a movie option. The short commercial already has fans drooling over its gory and gorgeous premise. @IGN tweets: “The Dead Island trailer is hands down the best trailer we’ve seen in 2011.”
Granted, it’s only February, but this has easily been the most chatter we’ve seen over a video game this year. Here’s where things get sticky: the trailer is very cinematic in the sense that it attempts to draw you into a story with beautiful (yet gory) imagery and expressive music. However, the trailer has drawn some criticism, as it shows next to nothing about actual game play.
So, is it a brilliant showing of viral marketing or a clever ploy to push a crappy game? Hit the jump to check it out for yourself.
The trailer has almost 1 million hits as of this writing after being online for about 24 hours. But is it worth the hype? The praise is pouring in, calling it “beautiful, gripping, and amazing.” Attack of the Show‘s Kevin Pereira tweets: “The Dead Island trailer is one of the most gripping things I’ve seen in a long while.” G4TV’s The Feed calls it “the best trailer I have ever seen in my life. The best video game trailer. The best movie trailer. The best anything trailer.” The LA Times calls it “a marvelously ambitious work, essentially a short film in all but name.”
But there is a much less visible minority out there who thinks the hype is just a gut reaction and won’t stand the test of time. HitFix says the trailer is “a nifty little mood piece, and that’s about all the thought (they) gave it.” Devin Faraci at Badass Digest calls it a “massive failure, both as a commercial and as art.” As a counterpoint to IGN, Wired calls for “cautious optimism” when viewing the trailer. They point out that Techland, the game developer for Dead Island, didn’t actually produce the trailer. Rather, Axis Animation was in charge of production.
And the naysayers may have a fair point, as not a lot of hype was generated over this teaser trailer for Dead Island released over three years ago. It still doesn’t have half the numbers of viewers generated by the new trailer. Perhaps the game mechanics were so underwhelming that the studio decided to take the marketing in a new direction and send out this short film.
Here’s my take on it: I love anything zombie-related and I’m a huge fan of the game, Heavy Rain. You will probably hear the comparisons being drawn, something along the lines of Heavy Rain meets The Walking Dead. I feel that this trailer is aiming for exactly that kind of sentiment, an emotionally engaging video game that happens to have an extremely high gore factor.
Was the trailer a tad on the schmaltzy side? Yes. Was it groundbreaking? Not really. Heavy Rain and L.A. Noire have the dramatic side covered. The Gears of War trailer years ago introduced some of us to the melancholy “Mad World” by Gary Jules. Was it virally successful just the same? Absolutely!
So is this trailer artistic genius or amateur schlock? Let us know in the comments!
As for the game itself, here’s what we know [via G4TV]:
Dead Island is in development at Techland (makers of excellent Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood) and will be published by Deep Silver. It is set on an island (duh) and is an open-world, survival-horror game with a first-person perspective, but the idea is to focus on melee combat and RPG elements and it will feature a clear focus on story-telling as well as four-player, drop-in, drop-out combat.
Dead Island scheduled for a 2011 release on the PS3, 360 and PC.