It really was only a matter of time before someone thought it would be a great idea to create a video game version of a movie-like doomsday designed as a prequel to the mega-popular AMC zombie show The Walking Dead. But let me just leap right at you with teeth bared and eyes glazed like a tired gamer turned undead walker and say they were … wrong.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is sort of a zombie road trip game, for lack of a better description. The central character Daryl Dixon—pulled directly from the AMC series and voiced by the same actor—is shocked by the sudden (ain't that always the case?) unexplained onset of zombieosis sweeping the land. He, his father and some other hunting buddies are ambushed by a gaggle of the so-called walkers. And after battling their way past those bloodthirsty monsters, and losing loved ones along the way, the survivors figure there's only one thing to do: beat a path through the Georgia countryside to a possible rescue in Atlanta.
Shall We Stop Off For a Bite?
The game is intended to be a sequence of threatening, death-at-every-corner first-person stealth missions. Daryl travels from town to town seeking gas, supplies, car parts—you know, all the standard things true zombie aficionados already have in their apocalypse emergency kits. But Daryl, alas, made so such preparations, and is therefore forced, as he meets other outbreak survivors, to fulfill quests for them in exchange for whatever needed loot they may have stashed.
And that's pretty much all there is. Oh, except for the gushing mutilation and brutal squashing of zillions of zombies.
Over and over gamers must replay the tediously trudging task of sneaking up on the drooling nasties and pureeing their brains. There are some rifles and shotguns that suit the task with their own form of boom-splat. But those noisy weapons will bring the undead running from everywhere. So for most of the game—until he gets a long-range crossbow—Daryl kills with up-close melee weapons such as hunting knives, sledgehammers, pipes and fire axes.
The game's graphics are rather ugly and second rate, but you don't need much in the way of crispness to make out heads being bashed, slashed off and blown to chunks; knives slamming through faces, eyes, necks and chins; limbs hacked off or blown apart; mouthfuls of flesh torn out; and every gaping wound gushing and smearing nearby walls and floors.
Do You Have to Even Ax?
Clearly this is a mess of a game. There's some low-cut blouse sensuality and a smattering of foul language (the s-word, "h‑‑‑," "d‑‑n" and "a‑‑"). Somebody's drug stash is referenced. And underneath all the gore there's very little character development. The story is flat and uninspiring. The motivations are vague. And it becomes quickly evident that this is simply a way for AMC and Co. to pry a few dollars from the still-living fingers of The Walking Dead fanboys.
Plainly put, if your own survival instinct is functioning at all, you'll be running away from The Walking Dead long before you've played all the way through. Or before you even start.