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In case you’ve come here from somewhere else, please note that this is a companion post with ‘Three Reasons Why the Dead Island Trailer is Terrible’. I’m presenting both sides of the argument as in all honestly, I’m finding the debate itself fascinating, and feel empathy with both points of view. The thoughts contained in BOTH pieces do reflect my own thoughts and it’s left me feeling divided myself, so as such I invite you to make your own mind up on the debate. I won’t however embed the trailer itself out of respect to those who don’t want to watch it, but if you do – and take heed the reminder that it has scenes that some may find upsetting – you can find it here.
Unless you’ve been living under a gaming news rock in the last 24 hours, you can’t have failed to notice the Dead Island trailer currently doing the rounds on the internet. An amazing and brutally emotive trailer for a game announced way back in 2007 by Techland, it’s been picked up by Deep Silver and is being touted as a first person RPG survival game taking place in the middle of a zombie apocalypse on a remote holiday island. Obviously though you can read more about the game itself elsewhere; I’m here to talk about three of the reasons that I believe that the trailer is one of the best trailers for a game we’ve seen in recent memory:
The zombie apocalypse has been done to death in games. From Call of Duty’s Zombie mode, through Left 4 Dead and your Resident Evils and Dead Risings we’ve almost become desensitised to a genre which, by definition of the dead coming back to life, should be about fear and raw emotion. In the film series considered as the touchstone for zombies in media, George Romero’s ‘of the Dead’ series frequently used the zombie apocalypse as a backdrop to stories commentary and statements on adult issues like social status, consumerism and social taboos.
The trailer for Dead Island makes it clear, this is an 18 rated game. The blood and gore certainly makes it obvious that this isn’t a game for children and it’s safe to say that child death is about as adult an issue as you can get. Techland and Dead Island should be applauded for not shying away from tough themes, even if they are brutal and emotionally painful for people to bear. If the game doesn’t address the threat of the zombie outbreak and the gravitas of the situation early, it trivializes the zombies almost to the point of them just becoming just another enemy to push through. Make no mistake about it, Dead Island is going to be an adult game, with the emphasis on adult.
Has there ever been a more haunting soundtrack to a trailer than the one used in Dead Island’s? Sure, it’s the backing to some brutal and harrowing scenes, but it suits perfectly. All too often with these zombie games their promotions are set to bad ass rock music – making the player and potential buyer know what they’re getting into. The music here serves both to subtly reinforce the point that in this game you and your fellow survivors are going to be fragile, and that once again this is a dark, potentially harrowing game.
In addition although it seems a simple enough technique, by reversing the action and cutting it between shots of the catalyst of the events really punches a hole in the collective conciousness of the viewer – the juxtaposition of the aforementioned music with these scenes serves to heighten the tension and horror of these scenes – and it’s brilliant to see a trailer for a game being taking as seriously in terms of film making as movies and the like, when all too often many games are satisfied with showing the player the biggest weapon in it’s arsenal or a selection of bosses followed by a quip from the main character fading into a shot of the game’s logo. When you’re an unknown property – as Dead Island is to most – you have to make sure you get noticed with your trailer. This one certainly does that.
Techland and Deep Silver have done a VERY impressive job here. A game that was announced in 2007, that had been silent for four years and largely forgotten about by all but the most hardcore of gaming news buffs, has now become a top trend on Twitter and featured on just about every gaming news site under the sun. For any game, publicity is important in sales, just look at titles like Enslaved and Ghost Trick for titles that due to poor marketing, haven’t sold as well as they perhaps should. By getting interest in the game peaked to such a point already, they’ve ensured the game is firmly rooted into the gaming public’s conciousness well before a solid release date is even confirmed. For that alone, they should be applauded.
Of course, there are going to be those who are turned off by the trailer, but this information is going to be crucial to the developers and publishers to focus their development and marketing to tie into the general public feeling in relation to the game. In essence, whether you like the trailer or not is almost irrelevant – what Techland and Deep Silver have done here is very, very clever indeed.