I’m not a big The Walking Dead fan; too much focus on characters and their relationships instead of zombies and gore. Nevertheless, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct should be exactly my kind of game – a zombie survival horror. Awww yeeaah!
First things first: before I got my hands on this game, I knew it was garbage. Repetitive, ugly, broken… I expected this to be the worst game I’ve ever played on my trusted PlayStation 3. Turns out I was right; it’s horrible like you would not believe. But it wasn’t a complete disappointment.
Everybody loves Daryl Dixon, the redneck zombie slayer with his signature crossbow. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct shows us what happened to him and his brother Merle before the events in the first season. Which is basically just fixing their cars and finding fuel in different places that all look alike.
Apparently, everybody in The Walking Dead’s universe buys their stuff at the same shops. They hired the same contractor build their houses, the same furniture company to decorate them, they all eat the same food and drink the same drinks; it’s like a capitalist aftermath, but with zombies. Who, by the way, are also almost undistinguishable from each other, like one giant southern inbred family simultaneously raised from the dead.
As you’ll probably know, zombies must be killed by destroying the brains or decapitation. At first you’ll wander around with your knife, giving every zombie five stabs to the face before they fling to the ground. If you approach them from behind, a surprise attack can floor them with a single stab. Soon enough you’ll find your first gun, but don’t get trigger happy yet.
First, there aren’t enough bullets to kill all zombies. Second, every undead in the vicinity will hear your shots, triggering them to stumble towards you. Believe me: you don’t want hordes of Walkers chewing away at your face. Even if you survive, the repetitive accompanying mini game will eventually get the best of you.
Every stop you make is a scavenge hunt. You need food, weapons, and fuel to continue your ride. These are barely hidden in different corners of the map. Some civilians, who look remarkably nothing like any Walkers you encounter, managed to barricade their houses with a table, or a cabinet on its side. Apparently zombies can’t lift their legs that high. Luckily for the survivors, you can. Anyone you save joins your road trip, and helps around by looking for supplies.
Not that you’ll ever see any of those people wandering around the levels you play. You’ll give them instructions and weapons before you enter the area, and they’ll come back with equipment or die trying. Either way, it’s completely irrelevant to the story. But then again, that is completely in spirit of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct.
Choosing which way to drive, even if there’s only one option. Choosing which car to drive, when there isn’t really any difference. It’s all smoke and mirrors – a lot of wasted potential. There’s nothing more to The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct than surviving. And that’s why this game was my guilty pleasure; I haven’t seen a survival game on current gen consoles other than the first Dead Space. For a horror fan like me it’s like finding road kill after you haven’t eaten for two weeks; repulsive, but satisfactory.
I loved having to run from hordes of undead. I loved to be forced to use melee weapons instead of guns. I love survival horror, and I love zombies. It’s a shame a game with this kind of potential was denied decent funding and had such a tight deadline. It could’ve been killer. Instead, it became the worst game I’ve ever played. Yes, it’s repetitive, ugly, and broken. But I liked it anyway.
Game Mechanics 4.0
Survival Horror 7.5
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