The Walking Dead is one of the only T.V. shows that has managed to hold my attention for multiple seasons and have me on the edge of my seat waiting for new episodes every week. I’m a HUGE fan. That said, I had high hopes for Survival Instinct, which is developed by a company called Terminal Reality and published by Activision.
When I first heard that this game was going to be a first person shooter I was pretty stoked. I thought the genre would be very fitting considering all of the zombie killing that has happened in the show. Then I heard it was being published by Activision. As much as I love the Call of Duty series of games, Activision has a reputation for pushing out games just to make a quick buck. And that became painfully obvious once I put the The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct disc in my Xbox and logged a couple of hours on the game.
I was really hoping this game would be phenomenal. I love the show, I love Daryl Dixon, but this game doesn’t do the show or the character any justice. Below you’ll find my detailed review of each aspect of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. This was reviewed on the Xbox 360 but please note that gameplay is identical across all platforms and, even on PC, the graphics are horrendous.
Platforms: Xbox 360, PC, Playstation 3, Wii U
For a game that is being released in the first quarter of 2013, not long before next-gen consoles are supposedly being released, Survival Instinct looks like garbage. You’d think having a big name like TWD attached would mean there’d be a huge budget to make this game look fantastic but, sadly, it looks worse than some of the titles that were available at the launch of the 360.
The environments are bland, characters look like cheesy comic book personas, and even the weapons look like they belong in a poorly designed indie title. Overall, the look of the game is just tasteless and looks like it was thrown together in a day.
GFX Score – 3/10
Survival Instinct lacks any awesome gameplay. Most of the weapons, which primarily consist of blunt objects, blades, and various guns, feel really clunky. Using anything with a blade or blunt surface is just a matter of swinging repetitively at walkers to bash them in the head. Guns are even less satisfying. With the rifle, for example, there is no sway or recoil when firing, it’s a very dull point and click interface. What’s worse is the scope is, in most cases, useless. Most of the time zombies will be far too close to you to make use of a long range scope.
During most, if not all, parts of the game you won’t be running around. Because sound, movement, and even the smell of your sweat, attracts zombies you have to crouch walk around almost all the time. Doing so activates a sort of stealth that makes you less noticeable to walkers.
It also provides you with the ability to come up behind zombies and assassinate them with a knife thrust to the head. This is the move you’ll have to rely on to progress through most missions in the game. So get used to very slow, unsatisfying gameplay. It’s fun the first few times to stab a walker in the brain in a cool assassination animation but it gets tiresome and boring very quickly.
Here’s a video we recorded showing some the The Walking Dead Survival Instinct’s gameplay:
While I will say that most of this is on par with the show, it just doesn’t translate well into good gameplay. Yes, in reality you would have to sneak around and be careful. Yes, firing a gun would attract hordes of zombies (it does in the game). But, unfortunately, this makes for really slow, dull gameplay. Maybe it could be developed into something more interesting but this game just didn’t hit it well.
Gameplay Score – 4/10
The show may at times go off on odd tangents and, sometimes, boring dialogue, but Survival Instinct takes the cake in that respect. The only real story is that the zombie apocalypse has begun and you (Daryl) and your brother (Merle) have to fight to survive. The dialogue is, at times, laughable. Daryl seems to be stuck on lame, one-line zingers that just don’t click as being a true adaptation of his T.V. persona. Other characters are voiced well but still provide little engagement or entertainment throughout the game.
In most cases you’ll be presented with a short cutscene to learn what your general goal is for each area of the game. Then, as you find other survivors in those areas, you’ll have short dialogue episodes with them to find out what they want in exchange for items or help you may need. Almost every mission is the same… you need item A, survivor has it but wants item B, you have to locate item B, bring it back to survivor, get item A, acquire new survivor and head out.
As you gain more survivors you’ll earn more chances to scavenge items like fuel, food, ammo, and other supplies for each area you travel to. You get to decide where to travel and how to send your survivors out. This involves assigning tasks to each survivor and equipping them with weapons. Each area you travel to has a certain level of risk. This is an interesting concept which, if done correctly, could be pretty cool but, unfortunately, Survival Instinct made it a bit dull and repetitive, leaving much to the imagination.
The story isn’t terrible but it isn’t great, either. It’s definitely not on par with the creativity and entertaining elements found in The Walking Dead T.V. show.
Story Score – 4/10
Being a big fan of the show I really wanted this game to succeed. Unfortunately, there are just so many things that need to be improved upon. Maybe Terminal Reality will make a huge patch to fix the broken elements and create a huge DLC with more interesting content in the future, but I’m not sure. I don’t believe the game sold as well as they had hoped which means they probably won’t have the budget to make such corrections to the game.
Terminal Reality had a great concept idea with this game but missed the quality mark by a long shot. Sorry, but it’s true. This game had a lot of interesting ideas thrown in the mix but they were very poorly executed.
Norman Reedus, you are an amazing actor and have captured my favor in the TWD show but this game puts shame to the great name of Daryl.