Dead Space. Splatter House. Kill Zone. Violence Area. Gore Building. There is now a new game that can now enjoy a place alongside the popular mediocrity of modern gaming titles. In one single, spectacular swoop, Polish developer Techland managed to generate more hype for their vaporware game Dead Island than most publishers can create in a year. Despite the sketchy history of the European outfit, which has previously announced and subsequently abandoned games like Warhound and Chrome 2, people have lapped up the new teaser trailer with enthusiasm.
It’s easy to see why. The video shows plenty of exciting action, yet also has powerful and emotional themes. It looks stunning too, utilising a mix of 3D technology and motion-capture software. There is also an arty play on chronology, using a super-slow depiction of events, some of which is in reverse order, as a gentle piano tinkles in the background.
The trend of playing gentle melancholic music accompanied with graceful slow-motion action scenes is an established success. Just look back at the UK TV spots for the original Assassin’s Creed, which displayed the agility of Altair and the aesthetics of Acre to the tune of Massive Attacks beautiful ‘Teardrop’. Or recall the muted, gore-filled action of the epic Gears of War trailers, which contrasted wonderfully with the ambient Gary Jules melody ‘Mad World’, heard alongside the footage. This potent form of promotion works so well, because any concerns over gameplay are masked by the engaging video. Without revealing the core of the game mechanic itself, the trailer can rely on the dependable language of film to advertise the game.
However well-received the trailer may be, the final game cannot, by the very nature of the medium, be anything like the teaser suggests. Unfortunately, game action is seldom as well-scripted as a film and regardless of what form the completed game actually takes, it is likely going to be a disappointment for many. How many times have consumers been let down after a game has failed to live up to its marketing-led implied promises?
So while we can all agree that this week’s killer trailer was an unheralded success in promotion, with deserved credit going out to those responsible for its creation, caution should certainly be exercised before any wild expectation is placed upon the game once it releases. If it ever does actually come out, that is.