Dead Island 2 director says the game is inspired by the comedy of 80s horror movies

Dead Island 2 preview
(Image credit: Deep Silver)

One of the developers behind Dead Island 2 wants to evoke the dual glee and disgust of over-the-top gore in 80s horror films, making it so gross that we find it funny.

"I mean, we've got a very gory game," Dambuster Studios' game director David Stenton told GamesRadar + in a Dead Island 2 preview interview. "The game is about brutal slaying and, you know, [it's] utterly literal. With the very gruesome subject matter, you don't want the combat to devolve into something quite bleak."

Dead Island 2 takes place on the bloodsoaked, sandy shores of post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. Stranded in a condemned city amid hordes of the undead and finding yourself immune to their bites, your Slayer of choice will have to hack their way through the city in search of fellow survivors, safety, and a means of escape from Hell-A.

The over-the-top setting feeds into the garish, gory camp of the game, as does its dynamic FLESH system that allows you to punch a hole clean through a zombie's head. The ridiculousness of the fountains of blood and guts are not lost on Stenton; in fact, it was a deliberate move. "It's like those sorts of 80s horror movies that are so gross that you kind of laugh out loud at the screen while [you're] watching it. That's that kind of response that we want to get. We definitely don't want it to devolve into bleak and horrific. And you've got to have that juxtaposition sometimes."

This juxtaposition of the shocking and the humorous is something that Stenton cites as integral to the fine balancing act of Dead Island 2. "I've been watching some of the fan videos in response to our extended gameplay trailer, and honestly, I couldn't have asked for better responses. What you tend to see are people like "urghhh, gross", and then like the next second, laughing. It's like you've burst the bubble in a way," he said "And that's really the role of a bit of levity [and] a bit of dark humor in the game: just to bring us back from the brink."

That being said, when you're not setting a group of shambling corpses alight with a jerry can, Stenton acknowledges that Dead Island 2 is not all fun and flames. "They're not all zany characters, laughing and joking," he says. "There were serious moments in there [too], very sort of heartfelt moments and well-intentioned characters," so we can expect a little bit of emotionality alongside our blood meal when Dead Island 2 launches on April 21, 2023.

Here are the best zombie games to try out while you wait for Dead Island 2.

Jasmine Gould-Wilson
Staff Writer, GamesRadar+

Jasmine is a staff writer at GamesRadar+. Raised in Hong Kong and having graduated with an English Literature degree from Queen Mary, University of London in 2017, her passion for entertainment writing has taken her from reviewing underground concerts to blogging about the intersection between horror movies and browser games. Having made the career jump from TV broadcast operations to video games journalism during the pandemic, she cut her teeth as a freelance writer with TheGamer, Gamezo, and Tech Radar Gaming before accepting a full-time role here at GamesRadar. Whether Jasmine is researching the latest in gaming litigation for a news piece, writing how-to guides for The Sims 4, or extolling the necessity of a Resident Evil: CODE Veronica remake, you'll probably find her listening to metalcore at the same time.