Liquid Swords Play: Dead Island 2

We came for the zombies and stayed for the science.

Abandoned desks. Darkened screens. An empty office chair, the seat still warm and spinning on its axis. The office is silent, except for the screams coming from the game lounge. The zombie apocalypse has reached Stockholm and the Liquid Swords HQ.

Virtually, that is. Our real brains are safely intact after devoting a Friday afternoon in late April to a Liquid Swords Play Session: Dead Island 2 Edition. In fact, they’re positively thriving! Taking a break from our own process to relax and celebrate what other players in the industry have accomplished gave us a real boost of inspiration.

Gaming together also brought us closer as a team. As a studio growing at a fast pace (hey, why not check out our Careers page!), we have a lot of new joiners. Not only is zombie-killing surprisingly relaxing, it also shed a lot of insight into different playstyles and personalities! But more on that later…

The zombie title dragged its recently released undead carcass into the world just a few days prior, and we waited until Friday afternoon so we could smash, slash, and thrash our way through Hell-A as a team. Multi-player is available online, but since few of us were working from home we decided to stick to share. How does one divide a single-player game between seven people? Hint: it involves passing the controller back and forth. Could we tell who grew up without siblings? We’ll never tell.

Two hands holding a post-it reading Carla.

We randomly picked our character through the hi-tech method of picking a name out of a bowl, which is how we landed on Carla – a stuntwoman who pulled The Lovers from the Dead Island tarot deck. Now that our PlayStation 5 was fired up, snacks were on the table, and the settings finally finetuned, we were ready to dance with the undead!

And, oh how we danced. And killed! And slashed, maimed, stomped, dismembered, and even electrocuted. Once past the tutorial, we were let loose in Hell-A with our first weapon, a pipe wrench. Unlike the open-world game we’re working on, Dead Island 2 is a mostly linear adventure. The world didn’t feel any smaller for it; the iconic environment created an intuitive feeling of expansive exploration at our fingertips. For a city filled with the undead, it was very much alive. The palm trees and scorching sun screamed Los Angeles, and the first stop being a movie star’s mansion was the cherry on top of the gluten-free cake.

The fun we were having was infectious, drawing the attention of any studio member wandering by the lounge area. As our slayers were passing the controller back and forth, we had a popcorn-eating peanut gallery of on-lookers that engaged in discussions on the best pool toys, an impromptu lesson in arteries, and a lot of backseat driving.

The streets of Hell-A were not only covered in blood by the time we were through, but also electrical currents and a crater or two. We met a lot of interesting Angelinos on the way, like a camera-ready influencer and more than one assistant to the stars. Some of our favorite takeaways from the session included found narratives, violent puzzles, and, of course, bladed weapons. Not to forget the pool toys, which were not only in abundance but also indestructible. Believe us, we tried everything.

As a studio working on a narrative-driven game, our minds are constantly in the story sphere. No matter who had the controller, we checked out all the posters, graffiti, and signs littered through Hell-A. The movie star Emma Jaunt’s personality shone through in her dialogue and mannerisms, but the framed posters of her starring roles in Tomb of the Tiger Queen and Rise of the God Spider told us exactly who she was. The only downside was knowing we couldn’t screen these epics on our next movie night.

Though the core gameplay was clearing zombies, we had much fun figuring out the most efficient ways to take them out. What happens if you throw a battery in a pool? Or empty a jerry can full of water on a live wire? Science happens, that’s what. We fried more zombies than we could count and then added some electrical juice to our melée weapon for good measure.

It wouldn’t be a Liquid Swords game session without some epic epées. We managed to get our hands on an officer’s sword and several machetes, which falls into the honorable mention category of swords. Not only did they slash well, but they also made exceptional projectiles. Who knew throwing machetes was so much fun?

All in all, Dead Island 2 had us in stitches. We walked away with loads of inspiration and a newfound appreciation for physics. The biggest stand-out was the different playstyles, a topic we’re going to be diving a little deeper into soon. But for now, our biggest challenge now is deciding which one of the great upcoming games of 2023 to play next!