With the recent showing of The Walking Dead season 3 finale I really wanted to pick up and play the two other Walking Dead videogames. Now The Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct are both two very different games in their own right and each one bring something different. However, between these two titles only one of them shows that simplicity truly works and the other shows a lazy attempt to make something that’s been easily perfected over the years. Story: The Walking Dead pretty much follows characters in the comics and it happens simultaneously to said events. The story follows Lee on his way to prison and while en route the cop car smashes into a zombie causing them to spin out and topple over the side of the highway. At this point, Lee is on his own and he must find ways to survive. You will meet plenty of memorable characters from the adorable Clementine to the cowardly Ben.
Survival is the name of the game here and no matter what you always have to keep that in mind. Lee and company are constantly put into perilous situations and you will gain new group members and lose close friends. The question sometimes boils down to not will you survive but how long will you survive or who will you have to sacrifice in order for someone else to live. The ending will leave you with a lot of tough decisions and sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any real right answer but no matter what you will feel the impacts of the choices you make.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is a prequel to the TV show and it follows the perspective of the Dixon brothers specifically everybody’s favorite Daryl. Now instead of just surviving you actually have a destination which is Firesign Stadium in Atlanta. Now just like the above you also meet many other side characters who can join you however unlike the previous game these characters aren’t nearly as memorable and just seem to serve as party filler. It’s a basic point A to point B type of story and although you can take several different paths to get to your overall goal. However, the story in the end is very bland and unmemorable. Even though we are given the two best characters in the show they just don’t make the story really stick out. The ending only leaves a bitter taste in your mouth because you work so hard for a solid ending but it stops very abruptly at a turret.
Gameplay: Now this is where things get tricky here because both games are very different. The Walking Dead has been praised for its storytelling but a lot of gamers will throw out the argument that it’s not really a game. Yes, it’s very tough to fail this game and it’s just a point and click adventure with quick time events. I, however, think that well this is a solid game. There have been many point and click adventure and many other games with quick time events. Games like King’s Quest V, Tales of Monkey Island and Indigo Prophecy are in the market so the argument that this isn’t a game to me is a load. The gameplay is simple keep your finger on the button and prepare to mash. However, you do get some shooting segments and other timed escape segments. However, this games main selling point is the choice system. Unlike Mass Effect where choices boil down to Mother Theresa vs. the next door neighbor that kicks puppies in this game a lot of times there doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong choice. Sometimes you’ll have multiple options that pit you up against your moral center vs. your common sense. This is definitely meant for multiple playthroughs because choosing to side with other characters or choosing what to do will alter the game sometimes for a brief different cutscene and other times for the whole game.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct has other issues. The gameplay is very problematic with its bad AI and easily broken combat system. The zombie AI is absolutely crippled and they will downright avoid you just to rub their faces against the gate you just closed. You can easily break the combat in this game as well. Who needs to use ammunition if you can just let them swarm you and go into the quick kill mode? The zombies will start grabbing at you one by one and if your quick enough on the button (you will be) you will stab the in the brain and lose no health. That’s not this games only problem however. Like The Walking Dead you also have a choice system. You can choose different paths ranging from back roads, surface streets, and highways to get to where you need to go. Each choice offers an amount of scavenging opportunities and gas use with back roads being longer with more scavenging areas and the highways using less fuel but hardly any areas to stop. However, the scavenging levels often look the same and it’s just lazy not only that but when you send you send your teammates out to scavenge, armed or not they’ll come back injured with hardly anything. The final nail in the coffin for this game is the fact that there is no cooperative play. You have Daryl and Merle, why can’t I play as Merle with a friend. You would think that this game would scream for co-op and the fact that it doesn’t have it is completely baffling.
Graphics: The Walking Dead has a very stylized look that is very reflective of the comics. It’s definitely not the prettiest looking but it’s not really meant to be. The gore and violence looks appealing and the character models are pretty much cartoony in many aspects. However, I’m glad that this game didn’t try to make itself look pretty because it made you feel like you were living the comics. It may not look all that great but you can tell in this case the art style is intentional.
Survival Instinct looks well ok. I know, not a great explanation but honestly there’s not too much to say about it. Is it next gen quality? No but it’s a great PS2 looking title. The gore is also effective but just not really noteworthy which is worse than being bad.
Overall The Walking Dead by TellTale Games is refreshing and was definitely deserving of its game of the year award. It does more than what Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain brings as far as the cinematic experiences and memorable characters. It’s entertaining and will move you unlike Survival Instinct which will just cause you to rip out your hair. The gameplay is punishing as hell in Survival Instinct because you can’t really do much. It’s very rinse, lather, repeat and can be easily broken. Although it’s meant for multiple playthroughs you’ll never want to replay it which can’t be said for The Walking Dead. Overall, Survival Instinct is a bad cash in title which was very disappointing. With the authentic actors and beloved characters you’d think that they would give more. Terminal Reality and Activision dropped the ball here and this type of game isn’t that hard to make. It’s been made multiple times just copy Dead Island or something don’t damage all the praise the other game has earned. This series already has enough problems but you know what just go out and buy all the episodes of The Walking Dead and ignore Survival Instinct. Even with the lowered price it’s not worth the frustration.