The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct has been taking a beating in reviews lately, and rightfully so. It’s been a while since I’ve played a game this bad. Horrible level design, clunky controls, last gen graphics, no substance to story, decisions have no impact or effect on the story, no real survival element, useless stealth mechanics. The list goes on and on. I was expecting much more out of this game. I was hoping that it would be as good as Tell Tales offering, which I absolutely loved. But it turned out to be the exact opposite.
The story is supposed to take place just before the zombie apocalypse kicked off. A prelude to the tv series. You start the game as Dixon, Daryl and Merle’s father. You’re out hunting in the woods following blood trails. I never quite figured out who those blood trails belonged to. They bring you to a doe, but the doe isn’t hurt. And just as you’re about to shoot it, you hear gun shots and screaming. You run back to help your friends and see they are being attacked by zombies. You then, unsuccessfully attempt to help only to be bitten. It then shows a scene with Daryl and his friend Jess above you in disbelief at what just happened. You are then shot in the face and the beginning credit s roll. You take over as Daryl, inside a log cabin surrounded by walkers. You and Jess decide it safer to escape than to fight off a horde of zombies. So you gather supplies and head south.
You are given the choice of which road to take. If I remember correctly the first road you travel doesn’t give you a choice in destination, but gives you the choices of Back Roads, Streets or Highway routes. Back Roads consume more fuel, but chances of braking down are slim and chances of finding loot are high. Streets is a more balanced approach, medium fuel use and medium chances for supplies. While the highway route uses the least amount of fuel and chances are low for supplies. Each choice also has a risk of breaking down, with the highway route being the one you have greater chances of breaking down on. And the back roads being the opposite, much safer choice. Each town you visit gives you the opportunity to help and recruit new survivors to your crew. And depending on what type of vehicle you have, you may have to choose between who to take with you. And inventory slots are also reflective of trunk space. Each survivor in your crew can be sent on a task when you enter a new town, and can help you with gathering food and supplies. The more stealthy survivors can decrease the risk meter and increase the chances of survivors coming back alive with the loot. I wish they would have focused a little more on that element of the game. They could have made your choices a little more strategic and difficult depending on the survivor’s abilities. But it seems it really doesn’t matter much. They don’t give you much reason to feel anything for the survivors. Stealthy or not, they all come back with goods. Giving them weapons doesn’t seem to make much difference either. I sent survivors in empty handed and they come back with just as much health and goods as sending them in with weapons. It also would have been cool to be able to send one of the survivors in for the supplies when you break down. Instead, when you break down, you get no help or choice to send anyone in with you for supplies. Every time you break down, or even make a random stop, it’s always one of two locations. A mechanics garage and a Gas station with a house that can be entered across the street. That’s it, just two locations and the items always seem to be in the same spots on the map. Hell, they didn’t even change the position of the vehicles, or the condition of the gas station or garage. Everything is the same in ALL random stops and break down stops. Every time you encounter a road block, it’s the same situation. Same place, same exact cars blocking you. Same stores you can enter and they even put the zombies in the same spot making the game more predictable and boring. Though sometimes you will encounter more zombies. But that’s the only change in layout.
The same can’t be said for each new town you visit, thankfully. Each one is different and gives you the chance to acquire new survivors and different vehicles. This pattern is repeated until you reach your brother Merle in prison, and he convinces you to head to a bar where his gang is at. The most interesting part of the game is when you get to Merle. The story behind why he was in jail, and why he really wanted to go back to the bar is pretty interesting. And other than the intro, it’s the only section of the game the writers actually did some writing. The pattern of fork in the road and breaking down continues until you reach your final destination. With the only real difference in what road you take on the fork, or what route you take to get there is different survivors. All surroundings are the same until you reach a new town. And you never seem to run short of supplies or gas, completely eliminating any survival element this game had. Even weapons and ammo are around in abundance. When I finally reached the last town, I was hoping that all the ammo and weapons I saved would make all the difference. Nope, instead it’s filled with more ammo and guns than any other town on the map. In fact, all the best guns you can acquire are in this town. You can play this game making the worst decisions possible, saving no health, ammo or weapons and still be able to very easily get through the last part of the game. Survival Instinct? Uh, yea right. Your choices mean nothing. In the end, your instincts don’t matter.
The graphics to this game are some of the worst I’ve seen this gen. I can’t remember another game where all the women are this ugly and butch looking. They all seem to have a similar looking long, ugly face. Even the main characters have low res textures. All the vehicles have a fake, plastic shiny look to them. And there’s only 4-5 different vehicle models across the entire map. The atmosphere is horrible for a survival horror game. There is absolutely nothing scary at all about this game except the amount of effort put into making it this bad. There wasn’t a single moment that made me jump or make this game feel like a horror game. I’m not so sure they were focused on horror so much as survival for the game. But even if we label it as just a survival game, it fails to meet the requirements.
And as if cheap graphics weren’t enough to plague you with, they made sure throw in plenty of invisible walls and zombies with bad A.I. The cheap combat and stealth mechanics don’t help either. You can basically crouch down if you want to “feel” like your being stealthy. But you can easily sneak on by just walking. There’s never a corridor or room full of zombies that requires you to be stealthy throughout the entire game. With the last town being the only exception. They come non-stop on the last board. Though, even when there is zombies in hordes, they are really easy to take down. And for the most part you don’t want to avoid zombies. Killing zombies is the ONLY fun you will have in this game. Every time I spotted a group of zombies I got excited. Butchering zombies with the machete is more fun than using any of the guns. I played the game without switching to any other weapon once I got my hands on it.
The Walking Dead Survival Instinct isn’t a very challenging game. It’s not by any means scary or pretty to look at. It’s very predictable and repetitive. All things that most gamers dislike in their games. But there’s one good thing that can be said about this game, it’s not boring. There’s just something about it, I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s just because it’s the Walking Dead. Maybe it’s my addiction to bad games. Whatever it is, once I got through the game, I wanted more. As bad as this game is, I didn’t want it to end. The story is kind of short, but I couldn’t get enough of chopping off arms and heads with the machete. And they let you restart the story with perks once you beat it. I found it fun to play through and even played through the game twice. There’s a good game hidden under all the flaws. It’s a shame there’s so many of them. Unless you are obsessed with zombies, or have a similar addiction to bad games, stay clear from the Walking Dead Survival Instinct.
Genre- survival action- 4
Average Score- 4.5