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Review

The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct Review

  • Game release: March 19, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • X360

It's not zombies you need worry about in the painfully dull The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct.

by

If you're worried about the zombie apocalypse, don't be. It's really nothing to get worked up over. Sure, humankind will find itself beset by legions of ravenous undead, but they'll be incredibly polite undead. Zombies will wait patiently for you to cave their heads in with a hammer, will file into a neat line before attacking, and will give up on chasing you after so much as three meters of exhausted shambling. At least that's how the zombie apocalypse looks according to The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, a dull and toothless action game that presents a few interesting ideas but leaves them wallowing in a sea of shoddy execution.

Not to be confused with Telltale's stellar adventure series starring an ensemble of original characters, Survival Instinct is a prequel to the Walking Dead television series that focuses on leather-vest aficionados Daryl and Merle Dixon. Both characters are voiced by the actors who portray them on the show, which is the only instance in which this game flirts with anything resembling a high production value. The bulk of Survival Instinct--a campaign lasting maybe five hours--is a drab and hurriedly told story of Daryl and Merle navigating the Georgia countryside on a road trip gone to hell.

This is a stealth-oriented take on first-person action in which you (playing as Daryl) creep through one zombie-infested town after another in search of whatever medicine or car part you need in order to make it to Atlanta. Each mission tends to involve you running into one of the few survivors left in a particular town. These survivors then ask you to go retrieve something in exchange for giving you precisely what it is that you need. If there was ever a game composed entirely of fetch quests, this is it.

There's an initial focus on moving both swiftly and silently: too much noise draws the attention of walkers, but lingering around for any length of time allows them to sniff you out. Or at least that's how it goes early on. You eventually realize that these zombies are so utterly feckless and predictable that each mission becomes less of a stealthy crawl and more of a routine trudge. Sneak up on zombies, and they can be instantly executed with a knife to the back of the head. Make too much noise, and you simply shove them back and go for the brain uncontested. If they happen to get their hands on you, the game triggers a quick-time event that allows you to kill them almost instantly. Each choice can be exploited to your heart's content, resulting in an unsatisfying lack of fear or tension. It's not so much a zombie apocalypse as it is a zombie inconvenience.

In this game, zombies have a habit of walking up to you and waiting for you to attack. They're very kind that way.

Early on, you at least have to make do with improvised weapons like hammers and machetes that force you to hack away at walkers before they fall cold and limp to the ground. There are also basic firearms, which you can use only sparingly thanks to limited ammo and the fact that each shot produces enough sound to wake the neighborhood--one of the more clever touches in the game. Halfway through the campaign, however, you hit a point at which the weapon selection renders an already dead-simple combat system almost entirely devoid of challenge.

The main offenders are the crossbow and the fire axe: the former allows you to take silent headshots from afar and retrieve your ammo, while the latter lets you instantly lop off a walker's head (which, in fairness, is actually a lot of fun--this game does viscera rather well). Combine this arsenal with easily exploitable zombie behavior, and you can absolutely steamroll your way through the entire second half of the game. What should be a terrifying exercise in survival is instead a protracted game of Whac-A-Mole, only with more blood and exposed brain tissue.

One of the truly maddening things about the game is that there are some genuinely interesting ideas floating on the periphery that could have made for a novel experience if there were any real undercurrent of tension to make you care about them. One example is the way you look at a map and choose which route to navigate between missions. Take the highway, and you conserve fuel, but you don't have much chance to find an untouched residential area to search for supplies. Take the winding back roads, and it's just the opposite: you burn through fuel, but you can often find a treasure trove of health items, ammo, and other resources.

Features like managing survivors would be interesting if you had any reason to care about resources.

The problem is that every zombie in the game is so innocuous that you quickly reach a point where you cease caring about any resources. It's the same issue with the survivor system, a mechanic that lets you recruit followers that you can send out on missions to scavenge supplies while you're busy with your own work. These are concepts that could have added a novel layer of strategy to the first-person action, but they wind up feeling like a chore considering you're more or less the Rambo of the zombie apocalypse.

For a game that bears the word "survival" in its title, there's nothing life-threatening about this journey through the Georgia countryside. It's too bad, because this isn't a game without strengths. Some of the melee weapons can be really satisfying to use, and there are some clever ideas about how people would manage the logistics of a road trip during a zombie apocalypse. But the whole thing is just so dull and tedious that it captures all the worst qualities of a road trip, but none of the exciting ones.

The Good
Some melee weapons can be satisfying to use
Interesting resource management
The Bad
Absolutely no sense of tension or challenge
Lackluster zombie AI leads to tedious encounters
Short, drab campaign
4
Poor
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Discussion

339 comments
crash_cutta
crash_cutta

it should be illegal for stores to sell this crap for 50 plus dollars without it having a review posted. I've wasted my money on this b.s. I  should of bought it used from gamestop.

SoNin360
SoNin360

Omg a 4, dats 2 hi, gs was paid 4 teh reveiw

Kuhlio13
Kuhlio13

I cant believe I paid $50 for this crap.

PotHeel
PotHeel

<Insert random rant about RE6 here>

wolfmgs
wolfmgs

dudes if you ask why RE6 is 4.5 and this is 4 the answer is simply its cuz kevin vanord reviewed RE6 if he ever reviewed this game he will give it like 2 or 3

Diogladius
Diogladius

Gamespot fails at scoring games. They gave RE6 a 4.5 and this a 4. RE6 was way better than this steaming pile. RE6 had a few issues but I really enjoyed playing it CO-op with a friend.

How is it these 2 games are even in the same Ball Park.

happypanda53
happypanda53

yeah i pretty much knew what i was getting into when i picked this up. i should have trusted my gamer instinct. guess i was hoping against hope that this would actually be good. oh well, atleast its easy trophies.

GasparNolasco
GasparNolasco

I like that, by Gamespot logic, this unfinished mess is just 0.5 points worse than RE6.

Defenseman13
Defenseman13

So... it's worse than the season 3 "finale"?

Outatomomega
Outatomomega

It's not surprising, judging by the trailers this game was doomed to fail. However look on the bright side, you can purchasing The Walking Dead by Telltale Games for less and that is an outstanding game. 

punksterdaddy
punksterdaddy

Hmmm... I am not that surprised really. It just doesn't seem like much effort went into making it good?

A 4.0 is probably generous, RE6 got a 4.5 and although it is a bad game, it looks way better than this?

I was considering buying it but no longer.

jark888
jark888

The first lame Walking Dead. Good job Activistion!

AlexFili
AlexFili

While I would disagree with the scoring of 4.0, it is indeed a rushed game and does have problems. That said I found it quite fun and while short, does have a few original ideas. I'd give it 6.0 and recommend buyers wait for a price drop

starbar111
starbar111

You know what is funny, ebay is awash with copies of this game with the description: "played once" - says it all really.

Codester_41
Codester_41

"Just get the game done and get it out so we can still cash in on the poor suckers brain-washed by this show before they realize it sucks now!"

Rioichi21Cooper
Rioichi21Cooper

A fair review, I can't believe people are paying over £30 for this crap on PSN though!

depman1972
depman1972

The game actually looks good, 4.0 rating doesn't seem fair tho'

coolmath4life
coolmath4life

Looks like crap, won't waste my money, nor will I support this company, I don't mind COD but that's what they should try to innovate on, not go for quick cash grabs. Proud 360 owner, I'm voting with my wallet... and it's a no - go.


wyan_
wyan_

I liked this game. At worst it's a 6.5 out of 10. For me it's an 8 because I am a zombie fanatic. Sure, there are many things that could have been done better, but it's a superior survival horror effort compared to Capcom's latest efforts. I think part of the reason it worked for me is because in the second level, (3rd if counting the intro) I fucked up extremely bad and had droves of zombies chasing me. I died horribly and that scared the crap out of me. For most of the game after that, (yes I fucked up again) I played very carefully and stealthily, almost like I was going for a Grand Master rating in the game Tenchu. I ended the game with enough guns, ammo and health items to open my very own surplus e-store, but that's what happens in any survival horror I play.

erix43
erix43

They just wanted a quick paycheck. Notice no one ever hyped it up or the lack of advertisements for it? This one came out of nowhere it seemed.... 

Daian
Daian

This game is so bad it's not even funny.

xolivierx
xolivierx

why is there such a decay in the quality of games these past years. The more and more empty shells are being released. I understand graphics are important but I would rather play a game with ok graphics than another picture perfect game with boring gameplay, broken AI and dumb story. Enough of this already

PsychicKiller82
PsychicKiller82

I think the big companies need to stop being money whores, and actually take the time to make a quality game. Activision could have easily done a better job by not focusing on Call of Duty all the time, this game is a disgrace to the Walking Dead franchise.

Dumper1
Dumper1

Sadly the sheep have still bought the game.

xsnrgman
xsnrgman

@jameswebster101 Tell me about it. I miss David Crane and games like Pitfall and River Raid and...whatever else I can't remember. :-(

xsnrgman
xsnrgman

@al-hasan-faroq2 Not as stale as Activision's newest games. Why bother with a Battlefield 4? They see money in their eyes $_$ with sheep that play COD and Battlefield type games.

RobDev
RobDev

@depman1972 This reviewer has actually PLAYED the game instead of just looking at it!

AlexFili
AlexFili

@wyan_ It is fun but it is just too damn short and is too needlessly difficult

Saketume
Saketume

@xolivierx THIS COMMENT CONTAINS SEASON 3 THE WALKING DEAD SPOILERS

This game had neither graphics or gameplay. But after having tried it I can see it had the potential to become a decent zombie game.

The problem is of course the license. It's obvious that, in fear of losing buyers, they rushed the game so it would be out before Merle kicked the bucket in the TV series.

TheNubMaster
TheNubMaster

@xolivierx Sadly i can say i know people who would choose the better graphics over the better gameplay. I personally though would always rather have better gameplay over graphics.

highlanderjimd
highlanderjimd

@xolivierx ps3 and 360 gamers. most of them are screaming dribbling idiots these days, thats who the money men aim at. Lots of indie games are far FAR superior to so called big releases these days. Expect another gaming bust soon, about time too imo. We can have another golden age like the 80s and 90s

pupp3t_mast3r
pupp3t_mast3r

@xolivierx Too many publishers and IP''s that have a lot of resources but lack any experience in implementation or innovation. However there has been a steady increase from Indie developers so expect to see some brand new publishers replacing the current leaders of the gaming market in the next few years.

The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct More Info

First Release on Mar 19, 2013
  • PC
  • PlayStation 3
  • + 2 more
  • Wii U
  • Xbox 360
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is a do-whatever-you-need-to-survive first-person action game based on AMC's Emmy Award-winning TV series. The game follows the survivor Daryl Dixon and his overbearing brother Merle on a haunting, unforgiving journey across the Georgia countryside.
5
Average User RatingOut of 398 User Ratings
Please Sign In to rate The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
Developed by:
Terminal Reality
Published by:
Activision
Genres:
3D, Team-Based, First-Person, Shooter, Action
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Mature
All Platforms
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language