Gore isn’t new to gaming. It’s why some people adore some series, and it’s a major driving factor for attention. When Dead Island 2’s gore system was revealed, a lot of attention was drawn to the systematic body destruction in the game. This was a pretty big deal as it was a step up from the usual slashes and smashes found in the genre, but when the time came, the game came out and showed how subtly revolutionary this gore system was.
One way to look at this game is to compare it to another recently released zombie title, Dying Light 2. They feature very similar weapons (save for Dying Light 2’s lack of guns), so the gore systems are ripe for comparison.
An easy way to determine the quality of the gore system is in how a zombie gets damaged with one hit. In many games, like Dying Light 2, there are usually slashes, some dismemberment, and reasonable amounts of gore. What Dead Island 2 does is it uses a FLESH (Fully Locational Evisceration System for Humanoids) system to “carefully” destroy a zombie’s body. Other zombie titles will have the enemies spew blood but not have too much damage to the skin or the clothing, so long as it isn’t a critical hit. Dead Island 2’s gore system showcases the damage done by a weapon, with skin tearing off at each hit, bones visible, and jaws left hanging.
One of the most essential things in a game like this is the impact of landing a blow. A number of games have received criticism for gameplay that is weightless and doesn’t have a proper feel. Dambusters have ensured that their game is not one of those. Like what Left 4 Dead 1 and 2 did for the genre, they prioritized the player’s fun through outrageously wild ways to destroy zombies. It is possible to spend minutes at a time wailing on a single zombie just to get a closer look at the decomposing corpses’ further deconstruction, which is time far from wasted. There are a handful of things to pay attention to when smashing and slashing at a walking corpse, like hanging and broken limbs resulting from hammers and bats cutting open skin. It is an intense amount of fun, and because of how the dismemberment and destruction work, it feels disappointing going back to other zombie games and not seeing the same level of gruesome detail. I have had many fantasies involving a game with the gore system of Dead Island 2 with the parkour and movement of Dying Light 2, and the FLESH system is one of the freshest innovations in recent gaming. The system could benefit other future zombie games like the aforementioned Dying Light by improving the genre’s immersion and fun factor. It walks a fine line between gory and gratuitous, but thankfully the system is just disgusting enough to be awe-inspiring in its technical execution.