Preview: The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
The Walking Dead for me is one of the best shows currently on television right now alongside Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. Its meticulously and brilliantly crafted narrative, strong focus on consequence and its characters, and high quality production values absolutely make it remarkable. Telltale’s adventure game, also titled The Walking Dead and based on the comics, continued this high level of quality in delivering the best narrative of last year, and we gave it that honour in our awards.
Now, later this month we’ll see yet another entry in The Walking Dead franchise from developers Terminal Reality and publishers Activision. It is based on AMC’s television series, and is titled The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. Reactions to it so far have been extremely mixed, and many fear that it will put a damper on the proud franchise name. But since it’s on its way and arriving soon, and we don’t judge games until we play them, let’s take an in-depth look at what it’s all about in this preview.
Name: The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
Genre: First Person Shooter
Multiplayer: Co-op (pre-order bonus)
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U
Developers: Terminal Reality
Release Date: 22 March 2013
Price: TBC (PC), R549 (PS3, 360), R451 (Wii U)
It’s extremely strange that this game is nine days away from release, yet there’s barely any information out on it, let alone actual game footage. Reasons for that aside, what we do know is that it’s based on AMC’s hit television show, and will be a prequel to its story. In the game you’ll take on the role of popular character Daryl Dixon accompanied by his brother Merle, both voiced by their original actors Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker respectively. The story will see the two brothers journey across the Georgia countryside as they make their way to Atlanta during the early days of the zombie apocalypse. That’s pretty much all we know about the story at this point in time, sadly enough.
Many fans reacted negatively to the fact that the game is a first person shooter, as The Walking Dead isn’t about shoot-em-up action. But Terminal Reality’s Glenn Gamble, in an interview, spoke against this by saying that the game isn’t a first person shooter in the typical sense, but rather a first person survival game that focuses on stealth and distraction. While we can’t know how true this is until we play the game, gameplay trailers have shown various stealth-focused techniques being used, such as throwing bottles to get the Walkers’ attention, and using quiet melee weapons. Gamble spoke of how they wanted to do something different with the game and make it survival-focused, saying:
“We wanted something different,” he said.
“Drop a Call of Duty player in our game and they’re not going to last long. We wanted a game that felt more real, but at the same time being a little more faster-paced and not getting bogged down with the micro-management of some of the more complex games out there.
“Shooting is ringing the dinner bell. First-person survival is about the best way to describe it. That’s what we wanted from the beginning. Everything they do in the show we want to translate into the game. If you look at the show, they’re trying their best not to use guns. In fact, in Season 3 they’ve got hand-built silencers on everything. That’s how we tried to translate it.
“You want to be quiet. If you look at the show, three walkers is a threat. It almost takes out Rick [Grimes] in one episode in Season Two. Okay, there’s our benchmark. Three should be that breakpoint. Everything we watched in the show we tried to translate into the game. They tried to be quiet. That’s the big thing about our game.”
It’s been said that players will have a choice in how they want to approach the game. For instance, as Daryl you can either choose to fight the Walkers, or stealthily sneak past them if you wish to avoid battle and preserve your ammunition. This may be smarter as you’ll need to scavenge for weapons and supplies in the game, although its unclear whether they’re very limited or if the various difficulty settings will tweak this. It’s also been said that you’ll encounter other uninfected characters in the game, who can either help or damage you, so it can be assumed that there will be various scenarios in the game where you’ll be able to make a choice on whether to aid someone or not, possibly making enemies. It has been said that you should help survivors, but not trust everyone, so there maybe betrayal as well.
The game is at least trying to stay a little bit true to the television show, so it’s advised that you’ll need to avoid attracting large Walker herds, and will need to use “wit” to stay alive during encounters with the undead. Not much has been shown of the actual game, but early gameplay footage showed off a bit of the sneaking, stealth techinques and action, and you can check it out down below. As an additional point, it was revealed that there will be a co-op multiplayer mode titled Herd Mode, where you’ll have to survive against waves of zombies. However, right now this only seems to be a pre-order incentive, lamely enough, and we can’t comment further on it or even confirm that it’s in the game for sure.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the suspected selling points and potential pitfalls of this game, as in what may make it appealing, or what could lead to issues coming up with it.
Suspected Selling Points
- It’s filling quite a niche market, in that you don’t get many first person survival games. If done correctly, this could work in its favour as the gameplay will pull it through.
- It does have a pretty strong background to draw inspiration from, namely the fantastic television show, which can absolutely be a positive if it retains the same spirit and quality.
- From a narrative standpoint, exploring the events before, or in the early days, of the zombie apocalypse could be a really cool experience for fans, provided the story has quality writing.
- The game is nine days away from release, yet we barely have any information on it, and of the trailers out there (of which you can’t even count on one hand), one of them is a DLC trailer for a pre-order bonus. This lack of information makes us cautious about this game.
- The visuals of the game looks extremely dated, and sometimes just about acceptable. Even though graphics absolutely don’t make a game, it does beg the question of the game’s overall quality.
- Unfortunately, we’ve got to look at the fact that Activision is publishing it, and given their outings with popular franchises like this (such as with 007 Legends), it’s worrying whether this will match the quality and spirit of the source material, and whether it will just be a cash-in.
In closing, I’d recommend caution about The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. It may be best to wait for our review before you make your decision on this one, because there’s just not a whole lot to say about it and there are many things that could end up going wrong with it. We don’t judge games until we play them, sure, but that doesn’t mean we have to get all excited about them either. Caution is advised.