The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is by no means a blockbuster title that revolutionizes the survival horror or FPS genres. It's not a fantastic release that changes how gamers see the series, either. It features a plethora of badly rendered areas and graphics that are sub-par in many respects and makes use of a very basic set of mechanics that make it seem like an unfinished project that was rushed to release.
The lack of any sort of multiplayer or even split-screen co-operative play is another missing feature of the game. Survival Instinct seems to want to be a multiplayer game, and many players were looking forward to an actual adventure featuring Merle and Daryl as main characters.
Instead, Daryl is the sole protagonist and Merle is tacked on with a short series of debuts and dialogue that does match his character, but there should be more to his appearance in the game. Throughout the entire game, Daryl is the only character that does anything–the other NPC's, including your own survivor group, stand around and talk except for a few cinematic sequences such as the duo's run in with the Savage Sons motorcycle gang.
The game's brutality and graphically savage execution sequences actually seem to work against the overall gritty and raw nature of the series, and instead seem to be cheesy additives that try to cheaply instigate fear within players.
The signature psychological horror that AMC's television show possesses isn't anywhere to be found in this game; instead we are met with a blood-soaked gore-fest where players kill with reckless abandon. While there are characters that are in distress, the game makes no effort to communicate their strife with gamers consequently failing to inspire any sort of empathy.
There are a few brief moments where players may feel something other than relentless opposition and punishment, yet they are quite scarce and most of the characters don't really feature any real substance. If Terminal Reality added more of the show's signature dramatic flair, we may very well care about what happens to Mia Park or the other survivors.
Survival Instinct is a prequel to the events of the show, making it an optimum setting for a huge amount of drama that's infused with strife, horror and nightmarish circumstance. Instead of capitalizing on this, Terminal Reality's release seems to negate it altogether, and instead of seeing a state that's rife with destruction and devastation, all we see are zombies and the occasional dead body here and there.
The game doesn't engross players into the world of The Walking Dead; instead we feel as if we're in an unfinished game that somewhat comes close to the series but doesn't want to try very hard.
While there are many negative elements associated with Terminal Reality's newest release, the game does have a few interesting and enjoyable aspects as well. The game somewhat redeems itself with its combat, which is a mix of stealth and FPS action.
The combat is one of the main elements that somewhat mirror the show's themes and gritty feel…if only for a bit. Although the combat is enthralling and somewhat shocking at first, it does get repetitive, and many times it is quite punishing due to the lack of any sort of dynamic interfaces.
Additionally another positive aspect of Survival Instinct is scavenging and foraging for supplies. Throughout the game players will have to use their ammo carefully and appropriate their rations accordingly–however supplies aren't nearly as scarce as they are in the show.
Searching through abandoned buildings and gore-ridden houses is a step in the right direction for the game, as it adds a sense of authentic survival elements. The supplies are very basic, though, and need to be more dynamic features of the game itself.
If you're the type of gamer who enjoys relentless FPS action without much actual substance in the way of story or plot, then Survival Instinct may be a fit. For most of the gamers who enjoyed Telltale's adaptation, however, Survival Instinct will most likely be a disappointment. You're better off sticking with the zombies mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 or enjoying Telltale's highly praised drama-infused series based on the Walking Dead comic books.
With a variety of let downs and disappointing features, Survival Instinct is a far cry from what gamers expected from a game based on AMC's popular drama series. It feels unfinished and cheaply made, and will most likely only alienate much of its core fans with its lack of content.
While it does provide fifteen or so hours of zombie-slaughtering gameplay and does give fans more of Daryl Dixon's backstory, Survival Instinct fails to deliver on the high expectations of the series and is only recommended as a rental.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is now available on Nintendo Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. For more information please visit the game's official website.