Last week, Activision released their adaptation of AMC’s The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. This first person shooter puts players in the shoes of everybody’s favorite hillbilly, Daryl Dixon. The story follows Daryl before the events in the TV show, including meeting up with his reckless yet loyal brother, Merle and his inevitable trip to Atlanta.
First off, I am a, and I cant stress this enough, HUGE fan of the show so jumped on the chance to be in the world of the walkers. Though it pains to say, this game wasn’t all I hoped it to be. Right off the bat you’re treated to a recreation of the shows opening sequence, with the theme, written by Bear McCreary and credits of the cast and crew. First time you see Daryl he is running from a hoard of walkers with another hunter, Jesse, looking to find Merle at a local prison. The game follows a linear viewpoint with some area of exploration, but not much. There are collectibles, which will force you to explore every inch. You will travel by back road, street, or highway to each destination, sometimes having to pick between two. This allows you to experience different levels, side-missions, and characters the game has to offer. I really liked this idea, since you can go back and play through levels you didn’t even see the first time through, giving you a whole new game.
Now, it’s not like this game is going to take up your spring break. I finished it in one sitting. I played 10am – 3pm, clocking a full playthrough at about 5 hours. Weapon selection is slim but effective, choosing between firearms and melee weapons. Though shotguns, fire axes, baseball bats and revolvers are fun and all, as soon as I got Daryl’s trademark crossbow, that baby didn’t leave my hands. The voice acting of Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker was spot on, bringing the two brothers to life. I enjoyed every minute listening to the on-screen siblings banter back and forth. Another easter-egg was the many nods the game gave to the show, hinting on the past of some characters, including Andrea and Amy. The interesting achievements this game offers lets you get creative on how you take out the walkers, one being “Porcupine“, which has you shoot 10 arrows into a walker before finishing it off.
Subtle aspects of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct took away from the overall enjoyment though. From a restricting inventory system and an array of invisible walls that tend to show up just as your turn to run from a hoard. The inventory is based on holding ten items, with the rest left in your vehicle, which also has a limit on how much it can hold. As you find better vehicles, you will be able to hold more supplies. Ammo and supplies also take inventory spots along with your weapons, filling it rather quickly. One thing that could have been improved on would be when I was selecting my load-out for the next mission, I would have a pistol with one bullet, and a clip of 5 rounds taking up two spots. There was no way for me to fill the gun from the menu, basically leaving me with one less slot. It may not seem like much but if you carry 3 weapons, 3 packs of ammo, and 3 supplies, you’re only able to scavenge for one thing before you have to swap for something you might find. Very restricting but a tough lesson on how careful you have to be with supplies!
All in all this was a fun trip into the world of The Walking Dead, but it left me wanting so much more. It’s short story and clunky mechanics took away from some really creative elements that the game had to offer. If you’re a fan of the series, I do recommend a play through, but at the price for a brand new copy, I’m going to have to pass. Then again, nothing is more satisfying than crushing a walkers head in with a sledgehammer, then stabbing another in the back of the head. Enjoy!