Here we are then with The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, the second game based on the very popular and awesome TV show of the same name. This game is in fact based on the TV show and not to be confused with Travelers Tales game which is based on the comics.
There, now we have that out of the way, I’d like to propose how The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct came about.
Big boss man: “Right, The Walking Dead is really popular right now, Travelers Tales have won game of the year, I want some of that action”.
Developer: “Sure thing boss, give us about three years, and you’ll have it. Bare in mind though that by then, The Walking Dead, might be out of fashion, and we’ll all be on the Next Gen Train!”
Big Boss man: “I don’t give a flying zombies appendage, I want a game, and I want it now. You have three months! Now get out of my site!”
Well, it may have gone like that but probably not, but it would explain why this game, based on one of the biggest TV franchises out there has been so rushed.
So, what we have here then is a prequel to the events of the TV show as we see our two hillbilly brothers Daryl and Merle. Although to be fair this is more Daryl’s story as Merle is simply just there for the sake of it so don’t expect any entertaining brotherly banter in this game. The game takes these two hicks on a journey across Georgia until they end up at the camp site and meet up with Shane, Glenn and all the other survivors.
Along the way, Daryl will be stopping off at various locations to pick up supplies, kill some of the Walkers and perhaps help out some people in distress and allow them to join your merry band.
This would be fine except there is very little story to be had, and the combat is woefully unsatisfying. I think perhaps the developers may have realised this as they are constantly telling you to sneak around, stealthy kills of the Walkers is the way forward. This is a clumsy way to dispatch the foes as there is no conical of sight, no idea of a field of vision so it’s all left to guesswork. One minute you can sneak 180 degrees around one and they will not bat a crusty eyelid, other times, a Walker from right down the street can hear you and come lurching after you. By then it’s too late and may as well get your gun out and forget about being all Sam Fisher.
If you do go shooting it’s more than likely that a hoard will come after you, they will surround you and grab you leaving you to control a twitching reticle over the Walkers face with the option to press R2 to stab them in the eye or throat. The hilarious bit is that all the other Walkers are just standing around waiting for their turn to bite your face off. The same goes for when it’s just one on one, they will attack you for sure, but if you attack them, they just stand around waiting for the next bludgeoning, it might help if they were pretty zombies but they look awful (in a bad way).
It’s not all killing of course, there are some survivors that need rescuing, normally by you carrying out some task for them before agreeing to go with you. The pointless part of all this is that when you do complete a level, you don’t always have room in the car to take them all so you have to leave someone behind. Normally this would lead to some horrible moral dilemmas, and some interesting gameplay and story twists, but not in this game as there is no real dialogue with any of these survivors, you just end up not caring and pick the one that’s the least annoying to look at which is a hard task, believe me.
Between levels, there are some travelling sections with the game giving you a choice of how to reach your next destination, Highway. Normal roads or back roads, each offering their own risk and reward factors. For example the Highway will take less fuel but have less chance to find supplies, whereas the backroads are fuel heavy but offer a great chance to find supplies.
Don’t think for a minute though that you’ll be driving the car, nope all you do is watch a dotted line cross the map, and sometimes if you’re lucky, you’ll have a random encounter where you have to stop to clear the road of cars or something equally mundane. Again here we have another missed opportunity for some cool gameplay elements.
Besides, there isn’t really a choice to make, there is no point going a route that gives you more supplies as you never have the room to carry them all.
When you do arrive at your next destination, you get to tell your passengers what to do while you head off risking your life. Mainly it’s either gather fuel, find ammo or stay in the car, it’s all rather pointless.Then you get the to the fun part of trying to sort out your inventory, juggling things is the aim of this mini game (it’s not a mini game) and then you can go off on your task of collecting fuel and ammo.
The Walking Dead:Survival Instinct, on a whole is as much as a shambling wreck as the Walkers are that are trying to kill you. Things aren’t helped but this being the worst looking game I have seen this generation.The gameplay is repetitive and dull with no frightening jump out your pants moments which is a downer considering the source material. Combat is farcical, acting is well below par and generally this game is rushed rushed rushed.
In fairness, there are some good ideas in this game that just aren’t used, the grappling reticle is a nice idea poorly implemented, The travelling sections could have been a nice game of strategy and cunning but are just boring. The saving the survivors is another good idea which simply doesn’t work due to lack of dialogue and character development. If the developers could have had more time on this game I genuinely believe it could have been a great title up there with its closest rival Dead Island. As it stands, this game is bit of a rotting mess of a game that certainly doesn’t warrant your hard earned cash.