The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct Review
After the success that was The Walking Dead point and click game made by Telltale Games, of course people would like to see a more live action game. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct tells the tale of the infamous Dixon brother Daryl and Merle. This game serves as a prequel to the show, showing us the back story behind the brothers before they arrived at Atlanta. Sure, anything with Walking Dead is pretty much guaranteed to get some money out of it but with Survival Instinct, it was a nice attempt that fell short.
Survival Instinct starts out with a mini-tutorial where it’s assumed you’re playing as one of the Dixon brothers. Basically, you investigate a blood trail and then come across a deer that distracts you from what’s really happening: walkers are attacking. You get swarmed and just when you think you can escape, your face gets ate off. What a totally killer intro, no pun intended. For those that have already lost hope in this game, don’t fret. It’s here that it’s revealed you were playing as Daryl and Merle’s dad. Daryl is pretty upset and goes to execute his father but can’t do it. Daryl’s uncle Jess takes him out and a very familiar credit scene to those who watch the television show rolls. After the credits, Daryl and Uncle Jess are in a hunting cabin out in the woods and decide they need to leave and Daryl wants to find Merle. Another mini tutorial ensues where you learn about sneaking around walkers. They escape the cabin and head out in their pick up. Because the game doesn’t always follow a direct pattern of story, this is the best place to leave the plot synopsis.
The gameplay is very different from a lot of the zombie games out there. “Survival Instinct” isn’t just a catchy name: this game is a complete survival experience. A lot of zombie games out there allow a lot of zombies to attack you and walk away unscathed. This is definitely not the case for this game. Taking on one zombie is scary enough but if their buddies hear you fighting? You can either try to run and hide or basically get your face ate. One walker is nothing; two is risky but three or more walkers coming after you? You’re more than likely to meet your death.
The game implements a running system and if you run, you can see water dripping down from the top of the screen. Basically, Daryl is sweating and you think “Hmm. Why is my game showing the sweat?” Interestingly enough, it’s somewhat of a discouragement because the zombies can catch a whiff of you. Another thing is how the walkers spawn. Usually, you can take down the walkers in a small area and continue on but as you come back, more walkers have spawned in the area you’ve just cleared. Whether this is good or not, it adds to the true survivor mood of the game. Stealth is your friend in this game. If you can avoid walkers completely, it’s best to do so. I made the mistake of trying to kill every walker I saw and I learned quickly that this isn’t the way this game is suppose to be played. The inventory system of the game is what you can expect of a survival game because you can only take so much with you.
Besides the main plot of story, there are many side objectives that include helping survivors and scavenging for supplies. Not every survivor is going to be a great addition to your posse. Some will become wonderful additions while others will screw you over. While doing objectives, you can make the survivors in your party search for fuel, food, and ammo. On this screen, you can also arm them with weapons and give them health. Each survivor has certain traits that can make them an asset or a liability to your party. As you travel throughout the world, you can choose how you travel. Some options are less costing on fuel and provide more opportunities to find supplies and vice versa. While you travel, you can come across areas where you have a choice on how you want to proceed. For example, after choosing the option of taking main roads, I came across a gas station that potentially had supplies. I could choose to either keep going or search the gas station. As you play the game more, your survival tactics definitely grow.
Using the environment will save your life, whether that’s throwing a glass bottle to make a distraction or shutting the doors so that zombies can’t follow you. It’s nice that there is an auto-save feature but where it auto-saves appears selective. It usually kicks in after you’ve talked to someone and either started or finished an objective. You can usually do quite a few things in between saves and once you die, congratulations. You get to do it all over again!
We all loved the point and click comic style of the first Walking Dead but it’s nice to see more of a live action sequence. The environments that you travel through look nice with its flies buzzing around and blood splatters everywhere. There are only two real problems I have with the graphics: sometimes you can get caught on something that’s not even in front of you and the way the Dixon brothers look. The misleading graphics you can get caught on is really inconvenient when you are trying to hide or run away from walkers. The only two stars of the game don’t do their live action actors Michael Rooker and Norman Reedus any justice at all.
Despite the fact that Daryl doesn’t look as good as the television Daryl, I’m quite happy with the way he talks. Both of the brothers talk just like their television counterparts. Daryl is blunter and has his moments of comedic relief while Merle is angst-ridden and abrasive as ever. As far as the environmental sounds, it’s enjoyable to hear all the gun shots, walker groans, and car alarms all going off at different times. The one thing that I did enjoy was the opening credits and main menu music as it is the main theme from The Walking Dead.
Despite the harsh reviews out there, Survival Instinct isn’t THAT bad. What did you expect out of a game that was basically trying to use the cash cow that is The Walking Dead to forward a video game? Based on my personal opinion, I enjoyed it for what it was. It was nice to have a game that’s actually more survival than “Here is a bunch of guns. Run head first into that crowd of zombies and kill them all”. You actually have to devise plans and execute them otherwise you’ll get your face chomped off. Some of the mechanics like the survivor management and saving mechanism could use improvement but does it completely hinder the game? Not in the least bit. If you’re a fan of Walking Dead, survival games, or zombies in general, give Survival Instinct a try.
Written by Guest Reviewer: Missvalentine