I have to type this up quickly, because by the end of this review my mind would become more blank than half of the expressions I seen in this game. And that game is Walking Dead: Survival Instincts, developed by Terminal Reality and published by Activision (which the latter half explains a lot). The game takes place before the events of season 1 of AMC’s the Walking Dead by following Daryl, a redneck who is trying to find his brother and survive at the same time. For those who are curious, Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker reprise their roles here as Daryl and Merle Dixon, as for other characters possibly showing up? Yeah no, don’t expect anything that interesting to happen in this game.
The game is an FPS that has a primary focus on, as the title says, using Survival Instincts to survive the zombie plague. It takes more liberties from the show than anything else by having the player use melee weapons to kill zombies and utilize stealth, rather than flat-out gunfire that causes walkers to swarm you within seconds. Speaking of which, you also receive several tools at your disposal, one of which are empty glass bottles you use to distract walkers, and flares that do the same thing, but to a much more successful degree.
And just like in the show, you’ll also need to keep an eye on supplies, ammo, and gas used to fill up your tanker or out-of-place Audi. You do this by either scouting and searching for these supplies in the levels, or by having one of your group members do it. Also speaking of group members, along the way you’ll encounter minor characters who will join you once you finish their objectives, such as collecting batteries or clearing out an area full of walkers. Your group members can be used to scavenge items or stay at the vehicle to provide minimum casualties, you can also improve their survival rate by supplying them with health packs and weapons.
Sounds pretty cool right? Having to use your wit to outsmart hoards of zombies, constantly being on the lookout for supplies, and maintaining a decent crew?! It’s just like the show, except not even as good, nor as a game.
First off the levels here are not only generic and linear, but 99% of them have very muddy textures and a generic brown color palette. Some of the levels look incomplete too judging by the constant scratches (glitches) I would encounter on some of the ceilings and on the floor as well . To put it bluntly, the game’s visuals are terrible, but that can obviously be seen just from the launch trailer alone. However Telltale’s the Walking Dead didn’t have exactly top-notch crisp visuals either, but they made up for it by having really damn good writing and characters.
From the first hour or so, I could tell I was not in for a similar experience I had with that game. The characters here range from blocks of wood to incredibly forgettable, with a few minor moments of genuine emotion that are about as prevalent as finding a cheetah in the Savannah eating large stalks of grass instead of gazelle. There was even a character that was so bland in terms of looks and personality that once she came back again in the story, I totally thought it was a different person! If you’re a major fan of Daryl, prepare for immense disappointment because not only does he barely have any dialogue, but he’s also pretty boring to hear. It was a shock though that Merle was the standout in terms of memorable performances in the game, but you know, when you have dialogue like having to refer to Daryl as “Little D” it’s not saying much.
Probably the most tolerable thing I could say about the game is that the gameplay in terms of just shooting or killing walkers isn’t exactly awful. It’s just typical FPS controls, nothing really too unique or advanced about them. Although as I mentioned before, the game does tell you that the best option is to remain tactical and eliminate enemies stealthily, and let me be the first to tell you that is ‘bullshit’. In fact here’s what I did, around the halfway point I managed to pick up an assault rifle, semi-automatic shotgun, and the ‘essential’ weapon for survival which was the lead pipe. The rifle and the shotgun are there just in case there was the possibility of encountering a large mob of walkers, which is highly likely, but with the lead pipe all you need is two hits and ‘BAM’, dead zombie.
So imagine a crazy person dashing down a street, Serious Sam style, bashing in walker skulls with a rusty pipe and occasionally stabbing their brains. Since I’m on the topic of ludicrous and laughable situations that happened in the game, there are jump scare moments where you’re being latched on by a walker, face first, and have to do a quick-time event in which you try to center the right trigger prompt on its face, then stab it. I shit you not, I took out a group of 15-20 zombies this way, with only a small chunk of health left. What made it even more ridiculous was how ecstatic the zombies were, as if they were saying, “Oooh! Me next, me next!”
There was even another moment where I was escaping a large hoard of zombies, and then saw that they were banging against the exterior of this projection house that contained this old lady who needed me to retrieve her cat (once again, I shit you not). Rain was pouring, it was night time, zombies were horrifically yelling, and it was chaos outside until I heard one line that cracked me up which was, “Oh, I do hope that Daryl boy is okay.” It was moments like these that prevented me from falling asleep throughout this entire game.
Oh and as for the crossbow, you don’t get it until near the end of the game. But what’s worse is that the crossbow was marketed as ‘the’ weapon of the game, that you would be using this as your primary weapon once you get it. Yeah, here’s the problem, once retrieved the crossbow only comes with about 1-3 arrows. It’s not like Crysis 3 or Tomb Raider where it’s easy to find ammo and still maintain interest in using those bows, here you have to retrieve every arrow you use to kill a walker, and it’s tedious. Not to mention the damn reticule takes forever align with headshots, and the impact is pretty weak.
One more thing I want to note is that the final level basically switches gears from a somewhat survival based shooter, to a generic Call of Duty stage that even includes a level where you take out a wave of zombies with a turret. Not to mention the supposed ending wasn’t even that noticeable, I had to do a double take to make sure there even was an ending! Overall the game is too short to even consider purchasing, the extra’s are bullshit (really? Collectible squirrel statues?!), and what’s there is either too dull or too boring to even consider renting it. I was gonna be kind and give this a pass since the controls for this weren’t terrible, but at the same time it’s an FPS, my dog can probably even program decent FPS controls at this point. So yeah, just ignore this and keep an eye out on Dead Island Riptide, because that’s probably going to be a better zombie game.
Hell not even Daryl looked like he wanted to be in this game!