Update: The trailer was created by Axis animation, which has previously worked on trailers for Mass Effect 2 (and others), as well as numerous trailers for television and film. Axis Animation is based in Glasgow, Scotland.
As I was checking facebook today, I noticed that my best friend/fellow gamer/gal-pal sent me a link to a video labeled "The Most Depressing Trailer Ever?" Being a fellow disciple of the more dismal stripes of art, I checked it out, and was treated to the most captivating and artistic trailers I've seen in years -- perhaps ever. It seems odd to give a "spoilers" warning for a game trailer, but in this case I must insist that you watch the video before reading on. Grab a box of Kleenex and your favorite bottle of antidepressants, this one's a doozy.
Read my thoughts after the jump!
In a word: Brilliant. The juxtaposition of somber music with high-intensity action is a familiar effect, but the Dead Island trailer uses it to the fullest. The entire presentation is truly moving. The music is hauntingly beautiful, with a post-rock style ambiance providing a fitting backdrop for the visuals. Those such as myself who bow at the altar of all things heart-wrenching will be especially attuned to the grace with which the trailer tugs at your heartstrings, fluidly and effortlessly immersing you in the atmosphere it creates. The reversed, slow-motion video and unconventional chronology are stunning, elevating it above your average bit of eye-candy and into the realm of art. What's most impressive is that this style lends itself so perfectly to the scene that, when put in order (IGN has a video of this), largely loses its impact. There are no gimmicks here, no obnoxiously pretentious attempts to tack on "artsy" effects for the sake of being different; it's simply the best way to achieve the desired emotional response. The film "Memento" comes to mind, another story that played with chronology in a way so skillfully that one simply couldn't imagine it playing out in a linear sequence without undermining the atmosphere. Like in the film, we see the two scenes converge at a moment that couldn't be more perfectly timed. The last moment before the title card shows the father saving his daughter, all the more poignent because you know what is about to happen. Yet because of the reversed video, it looks as though he's hugging her and slowly letting go of her arm, as though saying goodbye -- that's when I had to fight back the tears. Anything that inspires that kind of interpretation gets the highest of marks in my book.
Honestly, there aren't enough good things to say about the trailer. I've yet to see any gameplay, but as the purpose of these things is to draw you in, the kids at Techland will be delighted to know that I, as well as most people with eyes and ears, am very intrigued.