The story of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is a prequel to the events of AMC's popular television show, and delves into the backstory of Daryl and Merle Dixon. Gamers get to plot and take an active part with Daryl's journey, and get to make many decisions along the way like which survivors to take along or leave, who to help in optional side missions, and more. Essentially players get to decide how Daryl's story pans out, and get to plot Daryl's routes through Georgia.
Survival Instinct starts out with the show's signature dramatic moments, and sets off the first of Daryl's many emotional struggles throughout the game. It begins with players taking the role of Daryl's father, who is out hunting with his brother Jess.
In a scramble of fear and surprise, Jess is bitten and Daryl's father is soon overrun by a horde of zombies. Daryl soon kills the nearby undead, however his father is mortally wounded and is too emotional to end his suffering. Jess delivers the merciful shot, setting off the first blow to Daryl's psyche.
After that, Daryl and his uncle Jess gather supplies and make their way across Georgia. Daryl convinces Jess that they need to find Merle, who is locked up in prison, and the two set their course to spring Merle from his cell. Along the way, Jess turns and Daryl is forced to take out his own uncle, delivering another blow to his mind. Regardless, Daryl stays strong and moves on, with Merle as his goal.
On his quest to find his brother, Daryl comes across many survivors in need. Players get to choose whether to recruit them or to turn them away, and for the most part they provide valuable backup and support. Soon Daryl has a formidable band of survivors, and makes use of many of the abandoned vehicles to continue his trek across the death-filled streets.
Throughout their journey, Daryl and the other survivors must stop frequently to scavenge for valuable supplies like food, ammo, weapons and fuel.
Daryl eventually finds Merle, who is reckless as ever–but he still loves his brother and cares for him, regardless of his selfish and sadistic nature. Eventually they make their way to a bar which serves as the home base for Savage Sons motorcycle gang and Daryl gets his trademark crossbow. The gang isn't happy to see Merle, and the two brothers must fight both the dead and living to escape.
After his confrontation with the motorcycle gang, Daryl comes across a survivor who tells him of an evac center staged in Atlanta. The news inspires hope and Daryl makes Atlanta the destination for his group. As they fight their way through untold horrors and terror, Daryl and the others realize that their situation is much more dire than they thought, and salvation won't be as easy as flying away on a helicopter…