Blood dripping from her snarling face, the zombie charged full speed towards me. As I swung my trusty machete, I tried to find some way of forgiving myself for hitting a girl. Unexpectedly, the blade landed perfectly on her neck and sliced clean through her spine. As the head fully disconnected from the torso and twirled, seemingly suspended in the air in front of my face, I wondered how pretty she was before…before everything went to Hell. I forced myself to remember those first moments, how the monsters had chased me and made all my friends and family like them. Anytime I started to feel the slightest bit of compassion or consider them human I reminded myself of having to shoot a young boy before he turned into one of them. His eyes proved that he was scared, but he begged me to do it.
“Go on,” he sobbed, “I don’t wanna hurt nobody, Mister. I don’t wanna hurt nobody.” He repeated the sentence as a mantra, the bite on his shoulder accenting his words with a truth that could not be avoided. He would turn into one of them and kill if I didn’t handle it right then, and he was begging for me to handle it. There were two shots left in the revolver I had taken from an older gentleman who had asked me to use it on him less than an hour before; now, as the head I had just severed floated in front of my face for what seemed like minutes, I considered it pure naiveté that I didn’t use the second bullet on myself after putting the first into the young boy’s left temple.
My train of thought was broken as the undead lady’s head landed with a wet thud on the wooden deck outside of a beach cabin. My ears perked up, listening for other things. Other Zombies, I thought in disbelief. I heard a scream, but it wasn’t from a zombie. A human scream, scared of something. Despite my gut reaction to run and/or hide, I followed another instinct I didn’t quite understand. I ran towards the noise, and though the banging got louder and louder I could not be turned away from the thought of saving someone. I was tired of killing, I was tired of showing mercy to scared little boys and old men and I was tired of being absolutely terrified by these damned Zombies. I rounded the corner to another beach cabin to see a bloody, crazed guy in board shorts and an Affliction t-shirt banging with futility on a locked door. On the other side of the door, I could hear a girl scream.
“No, Tommy, stop it Tommy no Tommy don’t hurt me stop goawaystopgoawayTommystop!”
“Hey Tommy!” I yelled. He turned, but the movement wasn’t human. A chill ran up my spine, but I stood my ground. The tactical advantage of not having become undead being what it is, Tommy put his hands out in front of him and charged while I pulled out the old revolver and shot him in the forehead. I stepped over my enemy’s corpse, knocked ever so politely on the door to the cabin in an attempt to not scare the girl that was inside, and spoke the ever-calming words “It’s safe. You can open the door now.” The door creaked open to reveal a pretty face with wide, terrified eyes. She looked at Tommy, who lay still in front of the cabin with a pool of blood forming around his head, and then looked at me. I expected some form of thanks for my unselfish act. I expected her to act relieved that her life was no longer in danger…I could never have expected what she said next:
“Can you find my Teddy Bear?”
She had to have been kidding. I mean, there’s NO way in hell she could care about a damned teddy bear during a zombie apocalypse. Then again, there was that one girl who asked me to bring her champagne. Oh, and that guy who needed to nurse his hangover with 17 bottles of whiskey. Did I mention I was on a place commonly referred to as Dead Island?
The setup for a serious video game setting is always meant to be taken seriously by the player, so why is it that some of the quests or actions in the game are so mundane and ridiculously stupid? If aliens are invading, I will NOT find batteries for your Game Boy. If zombies are eating people, I don’t give a crap if you like champagne or need your teddy bear. If I’m Batman and the Joker is trying to kill everyone in an entire city, I don’t have TIME for all of your silly RIDDLES! The only time I feel more slighted than when these unbelievably insane tidbits are put into a game is when they are listed as a FEATURE. Who cares about saving Skyrim from the impending Dragon-Doom or hunting the Vampire threat highlighted in the latest DLC, you need to spend countless hours building your house and filling it with stuff you can otherwise find just fine in each and every city you visit…amirite? Hearthfire can suck a big one, I’m tired of something as retarded as that being labeled as “Content”.
You have a house, and you can design the house and what goes in it. You can get married, and you can acquire kids by some process. You know where else I can do that? I’m pretty sure I’ll think of it the next time I’m telling one of my REAL kids for the millionth time to clean their room. Seriously, the last thing I want is for a digital wife to nag at me for not taking out the trash while a real wife nags at me for playing a video game and not taking out the trash.
With Dead Island, it was hard to accept the idea that one NPC would ask me to take on the daunting task of killing his undead wife and child while the next NPC asked me to do something as menial as put up some posters around the city or finding that damned teddy bear. Some people wouldn’t care in the least: “Teddy bear, got it, kill zombies, level up. Kill family, got it, let’s kill zombies and level up.” That mentality is one I can’t maintain, because video games like Skyrim or Dead Island are not meant to be beaten. They are meant to be experienced. Not everyone realizes this, I think, and I find it sad but true.
Next time you are saving the town/country/planet/universe from some overbearing threat, think about it before you accept a quest to pick up someone’s dry cleaning or grab some milk from the grocery store on your way home. Have some standards, don’t do it even if it gives you experience points or in-game currency for doing so. Developers need to know that we deal with tedious, everyday tasks every stinkin’ day and it doesn’t count as entertainment any more just because we do it with a controller.