With the success of the television show and the arcade title, the thought of a new Walking Dead game got many gamers excited. Interest grew when it was announced that one of the series’ favourite characters, Daryl, would be the lead in this prequel to the television show. After waiting patiently, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct has arrived but has it been able to live up to the expectations of fans? Let’s find out!
Survival Instinct begins with the player in the shoes of Daryl’s father. He’s hunting with his sons and brother until they get overrun by zombies. Unable to free himself from the grasp of the decaying horde, he gets bitten and Daryl is faced with the task of killing his father. This is where his survival begins. On this occasion his uncle finishes the job but now that you’re in control of Daryl, the decisions ahead will be up to you. After a brief stopover at your safehouse, you decide to hit the road and try and find somewhere a little safer.
Each time you want to travel further, you will need to find fuel for your truck. Fuel is used to make journeys and depending how far you go, and by which route, quiet, standard or fast, you will use more fuel. Each route has its perks such as finding more valuable loot or skipping some unnecessary fights. Once you arrive at a location you will have a main objective but you will always want to look out for additional fuel. Not only will you be on the lookout for fuel but there will be supplies such as food, flares, guns and ammo lying around that will help you survive your journey. The final thing you will want to be on the lookout for is survivors. While you have your own personal journey, you will find yourself wanting to help others who are in trouble. The choice is entirely up to you, and you can only fit a certain number of people in your vehicle, but with their help you’ll be able to collect more supplies and their assistance will allow you to survive in the toughest situations.
You have an array of weapons and tools to help you get through each location from your trusty hunting knife to a deadly and precise bolt action rifle. Using melee weapons such as the lead pipe will allow you to stealthily move around your environment without alerting zombies while any of the guns will likely attract attention. It’s up to you how you decide to proceed but certain situations will call for a different approach. By far the best weapon, and Daryl’s signature weapon, is the crossbow. Being able to shoot things from afar and not cause all the zombies in the area to want to gnaw your limbs off is a godsend. The only downside is it takes a while before you find this weapon so you spend a lot of the game getting used to fighting in a particular way only to have that stripped from you and almost forced to use the crossbow because it is such a good weapon.
For the most part the zombies are all similar and will react to you in the same way. The difficulty is ramped up when their numbers increase and will require you to think about how to use your weapons. With a limited amount of ammunition, spraying and praying will not do you any good which means the best approach to most scenarios is to stay in the shadows and pick off zombies one by one. Getting up, close and personal with the zombies has its dangers though and you’ll often find yourself in a QTE which is a life or death situation. Failing here will cause you to die and pick up from your last checkpoint. This is a good way to save bullets but it also makes the combat a little repetitive aside from the parts where you are forced to use your guns. While you're out and about dealing with what needs to be done, you can send the rest of the survivors out on mini missions to collect fuel, food or ammo. You will need to equip them with a weapon and depending how risky it is they may come back hurt or not at all. You can offer them first aid at the start of each location to keep them alive.
Fighting zombies and collecting supplies is fun although having a nice looking game to do it in would have been nice. Sadly, the graphics in The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct look so dated it ruins what good this game has to offer. The character models are horrible and the environments lack textures and the little extras that bring a world to life. You could be forgiven for thinking you were playing a game from the beginning of this generation. The other presentation details such as sound are also lacking and overall ruin what could have potentially been a great game.
With the success of Telltale Games’s arcade game, there were high hopes for this full-fledged retail title. As it happens you would be best off saving your pennies for the already announced sequel to the arcade title as Survival Instinct will leave you with bitter feelings towards The Walking Dead series. Unless you are an absolute nutter for anything to do with The Walking Dead, your money will be best spent elsewhere.