Review: The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
The Walking Dead has exploded in popularity in this current zombie mad climate. The comic was good, the TV show is good and Telltale’s The Walking Dead adventure game was great. So when Survial Instinct was announced eyebrows were raised in anticipation, a first-person shooter featuring Daryl and Merle, what could be better?
What could be worse should be the real question, and the answer will be not much, not in video game circles anyway. You play as Daryl as the zombie outbreak kicks off and your goal is to find Merle, that’s basically the story and it is as exciting as it sounds. The game revolves around finding petrol, you find some petrol and you can drive to another location where you’ll need to find more petrol; rinse and repeat until you find Merle.
When you decide to leave a location you have three options on the type of road to take, each one has a varying impact on fuel used, chance of a breakdown and how many stops you make. If you make a stop it gives you a chance to find supplies, such as ammo and energy drinks – because nothing helps more in a zombie apocalypse than doping up on caffeine. If you breakdown on route then you’ll be dumped in a location and tasked to find a car part to get back on the road; ignoring the fact there’s cars everywhere.
All sounds good so far, right? I’ll admit the game has some interesting ideas but they’re just executed so poorly. For example, the travelling from location to location, you don’t do anything here, you just sit and watch a red blob travel down a map. Also, the supply stops and breakdown sections are the same areas over and over, pretty much everything is exactly the same apart from the location of items.
Speaking of repetition, the zombies. I think I saw about five different zombie models repeated over and over; groaning and bumbling towards you. According to the packaging they can smell you, I probably shouldn’t have had that curry beforehand. There’s no consistency on how the zombies see you, some will be completely oblivious to your presence whilst others must have some sort of Spidey sense as they can see you from miles away. Not to mention the zombies will randomly spawn around you, turn your back for a moment and you may find yourself being attacked in the back.
As far as combat goes it’s clunky and frustrating – you can use either melee weapons or firearms, be warned though, using firearms causes an influx of zombies so you’re better off sticking to the knifes, pipes and axes. One or two zombies at once isn’t a problem, you can just swipe them a couple of times and they’ll fly to the floor like they’ve just been hit by a truck. However, if you get swarmed then you’ll be in a bit of a pickle as you can only survive three or four hits by a zombie before dying and your melee weapons can only really hit one zombie at a time. I found myself being constantly corned by a group of zombies as I’m apparently unable to jump over an obstacle that’s about two feet high. You do have one final trick up your sleeve, the grapples – if you’re grappled by a zombie then you’re stuck in an awful QTE which involves you stabbing the zombie in the head. These zombies must be English as they’ll kindly queue up and wait for their turn to be stabbed in the head as you’ll move from grapple to grapple – much like an old school marital arts film.
Graphically it looks bad, as I mentioned there’s only a few zombie models and they all look pretty naff. The levels are bland and uninteresting and whilst they look fairly open they aren’t thanks to a ton of invisible walls, meaning you’ll get stuck behind obstacles you should be able to jump over. In fact, I remember one section where you’re blocked by a truck so you have to find an alternative route. So you go, speak to some dude and end up going back to the same section, although now you have the ability to jump over the flatbed truck, why I couldn’t do that before I have no idea.
Speaking of talking to dudes, you’ll stumble across other survivors who will help you out should you help them. I say help you out, they don’t really do anything, all you can do is send them out for supplies and they’ll come back with an energy drink (in the same time you managed to find 10). As you only have a couple of seats in your truck, and apparently it’s impossible to use other vehicles, you have to sometimes leave survivors behind and they don’t mind, they’ll just leave without saying a thing.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct may share The Walking Dead name but that’s where the similarity ends. It’s completely void of any of the atmosphere, horror, turmoil or difficult decisions, it’s just a mess. Just by playing the game for 1/5th of it’s campaign or in other words, an hour, you’ll be frustrated and annoyed at having spent money on this. The game is unfinished in every way, it’s been rushed out to coincide with the TV series and that’s disappointing.