Here I am being beaten up in the garden of some gun-loving L.A. resident, except there are no guns, and she’s not a very welcoming host. Unfortunately, this homeowner may have bitten more than she could chew in the zombie apocalypse. I mean this literally, she’s currently trying to gnaw on my shoulder.
I combo with my electric sword and push her decayed corpse off of me, but before I can strike the finishing blow, she lets out a blood-curdling (and glass-breaking) shrill scream, drawing every single undead corpse towards her. Those guns would sure come in handy right about now.
As hordes of the undead clamber over the fence and hurl themselves at me, a guitar riff starts and the music swells. A pop-punk song rages on as I’m forced to battle for my life in a bloodied back garden. Unfortunately, the music doesn’t give me the adrenaline boost I need. As I lay face down in a flower bed with zombies tearing me limb from limb, it actually starts to feel like they were the ones who got the cool theme tune and not me.
Too cool for school
Music can be an incredible addition to a game. Unfortunately, many of the songs turned to white noise in Dead Island 2 as I tried to drown it out by purely focusing on getting out of Hell-A as quickly as possible. I was too busy trying to outmanoeuvre the undead hordes in a cramped back garden to relish at the moment.
In a way, this was Dead Island 2’s biggest problem; every time I stumbled upon an incredibly sleek setting or brilliantly gruesome fight, it was cut short by confusing in-game directions, frustratingly stupid zombies, or noticeable glitches.
The prompts told me to do one thing when I should have been doing another. I found my melee weapons to be little to no use in the first critical few hours of the zombie shooter, and at one point, a poor girl having a heart-to-heart with her father fell through the floorboards. It turned what should have been an emotional climax into a fever dream as the father held onto the only thing that didn’t glitch through the floor, a crossbow.
Now that’s what I call boss music
When done right, music within any game can lift the experience and give the player a much-needed adrenaline rush that’ll carry them through to the finish. Whether it be the epic choruses of Devil May Cry 5 or the frantically fun tunes in Mario Kart 8, the backing track can help people focus and tell them what to expect to rise to the challenge
While it’s true that listening to 10 hours of the coconut mall theme tune on repeat helps me focus on my work, I still think my favorite instance of a game working with music to give crucial audio storytelling has to be Metal Hellsinger. This rhythmic first-person shooter utilizes music spectacularly to make you feel like the main character in this diabolically demonic setting.
Not only does the array of thrilling metal tracks helped me immensely, as I was able to zone in on the task at hand and absolutely demolish anything that made the mistake of getting too close. Unlike Dead Island 2, the music in Metal Hellsinger, and other titles mentioned above, felt like the developers used them for more than just a flashy show. Each track was carefully produced and selected for certain instances with the level layouts in mind to help guide you through the hordes and bosses that try and take you on.
It speaks volumes that I can’t remember a single song from Dead Island 2, and honestly, I don’t want to. The music seemed plastered on top of gameplay for outlandish effect; it didn’t help me navigate the undead or ease the blow of poorly thought-out fights and prompts. Instead, the only memory I’m left with is that of myself being torn to bits among some daisies in a backyard as some generic pop punk plays in the background. My own idea of hell.
- Friends are only permitted in Dead Island 2 if you have a PS5 or Xbox Series X