Interview: Dead Island, “Never, Ever Eat Zombie Meat”

We recently got a chance to interview Deep Silver’s Sebastian Reichert, producer on Dead Island. Below you’ll find the interview in its entirety. Sit back, and read on as we talk to Sebastian about the game’s highly praised and talked-about trailer, inspirations the team had when developing the title, what type of horror this will be aiming for, and much more. We were also given very valuable advice as to what not to do in a zombie apocalypse! Make sure to leave your comments below letting us know what excites you the most about Dead Island. Also, be sure to follow the game’s official Facebook page.

ROH: It must have been a surprise to see the trailer become a sudden internet phenomena! How has the team been reacting to the popularity?

Sebastian: We knew from the beginning that we had something special with this trailer. But seeing how this trailer exploded all over the internet and the media coverage afterwards was really exciting for us! We are all extremely happy to get such positive feedback on our work.

ROH: Many people were quite moved by the trailer, but are a bit worried if this emotional approach will be held in the actual game. It has been said the story is to be full of mystery and drama, do you suspect there are scenes in the game that may emotionally impact players like the trailer has?

Sebastian: Yes. It’s violent, fast, revolting and there are gut punching emotional scenes. But of course in the context of the game they work differently compared to the trailer. A trailer has to work in 2 minutes. The game has to hook you for hours, even weeks.

ROH: The project went silent for a few years and it’s interesting to see some before and after shots of the game. Can you comment on any interesting changes in the project between now and then?

Sebastian: We shifted the focus quite a bit. We wanted to make this beautiful and strange island an open world experience, with a lot of close combat to bring the survival feel to a new level and add seamless multiplayer to multiply the fun.

ROH: Speaking of old ideas, some early screens showed the character driving a vehicle though we haven’t heard anything on this with the recent information. Did this have to be cut or can you still drive in the game?

Sebastian: If you find a car, that is still working, you can drive it! This will help you to get around in the wider areas. This will not be possible everywhere, some areas are just too crowded to drive around.

ROH: What kind of soundtrack do you have prepared for this game?

Sebastian: Our soundtrack is amazingly versatile! Ranging from ambient sounds over heavy metal riffs to rap. And even though this combination may sound strange, I’m sure zombie fans will love it!

ROH: About scaring players and fear, did the development of the game take any focus on making the game scary to an extent, and if so what direction of fear are you guys going for?

Sebastian: In short: Blunt brutal survival terror. It’s not a game that makes you afraid of what’s around every corner. In Dead Island you will see a horde of zombies feasting on a corpse and the fear will come from the obvious questions: How the hell I am supposed to survive this? Can I run away? In what shape is my baseball bat? Is there still a Molotov cocktail in my backpack? These pressing questions cause the terror in you.

Of course when we brought the player to this point it’s fun to add this additional surprise attack!

ROH: What types of enemies can we expect to see in the game? Is there a bigger variety or is the focus more on a horde rather than variety?

Sebastian: The horde is very important as it is a well known terror from all zombie media. But for the sake of variation we added more types as they change the gameplay in a big way. If a behemoth-like guy is standing in the middle of the horde, the above mentioned terror gets pushed to the next level. And they are not only varying in size, you will hear and see that something bad is waiting for you.

ROH: What were some inspirations for you guys while creating the game?

Sebastian: As you will see in the various types of the undead and the areas in the game we tried to get as much zombie-movie inspiration in as possible. Dawn of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Cannibal Holocaust, 28 Days Later, The Walking Dead comics, Versus, Tokyo Gore Police…The whole team was into this topic and we tried to get the best stuff out of all areas to create something unique.

ROH: Might the player be able to take part in some recreational activities out of slaying zombies? The website mentions things like fishing, for example. Is that simply part of the pamphlet-like wording of the passage or will players actually be able to go fishing?

Sebastian: Grenade fishing for zombies would be the only thing that comes to mind =). And no, that wouldn’t be very recreational. If you feel tempted going fishing on the Dead Island you definitely did something wrong!

ROH: Since the combat in Dead Island is going to be more melee-centered what’s going to go into the gameplay mechanics to differentiate the game from Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead 2, which also shed some focus on melee.

Sebastian: We took the classic shooter design and translated it into the closed combat. Instead of ammunition- a weapon degrades. Instead of reloading- stamina needs to be recovered. Aiming stays the same, but the resulting impact is much bigger and has much more effect.

You will break arms to reduce the danger of the zombies, cut off legs to immobilize it or the best solution- simply smash or cut off the ehad to kill it instantly.

In Dead Island you will find a whole arsenal of close combat mechanics ensuring the enjoyment of smashing every head by yourself.

ROH: Can you tell us a little more about 4-player Co-op? How is it going to work in the game?

Sebastian: In the desperate fight for survival we can only say: the more the better. The game has more than enough items, skills and features that let the 4 players work together. Multiplayer will be extremely important to Dead Island therefore it will be very user-friendly to join another game. No need to stop playing your own campaign, just join and leave whenever you like.

ROH: Is there anything else you would like to share with the fan base? A comment, advice, anecdote, correction or criticism?

Sebastian: Never ever eat zombie meat. No matter how desperate you are!

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