As of this moment, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is handily the worst game of 2013, and I highly doubt it’s going to have much serious competition over the next 8 months. It’s bland, ugly, repetitive, disjointed, and almost wholly devoid of any redeeming qualities. There’s a looming air of defeat that permeates the entire experience, like the team abandoned all hope of success midway through the development cycle and shifted their focus onto making something that might, at the very least, be technically classified as “a game.”
Plasticky zombies swat at you with all the power and malice of a feeble old man attempting a handshake. Models overlap with astonishing regularity; you’ll see bushes growing through solid concrete walls into building interiors and cars sprouting from the middle of school buses. Most combat encounters can be solved by circle-strafing around your enemies to perform a stealth execution, even when the zombies are aware of your presence and attacking head-on. When you sprint for too long, your eyes sweat. Your eyes sweat. It’s all laughably bad, and the failings are so glaring that they should’ve been blatantly obvious to everyone involved in the project. Alas, no one working on the game seemed to care—and neither should you.
With that in mind, I’ve decided that a boilerplate review just won’t cut it here. Instead, I’ve tried to cope with the psychological trauma of my playthrough by attempting to find valid reasons why a game this utterly miserable could’ve ever come to exist in the first place. Let us embark together on a journey to a land of possibilites, of rationalizations, of suffering, and unflinching disappointment.
So, as you can see from the demo, we’re well on track for our scheduled March 2014 release.
You mean March 2013, right?
DEVELOPER looks closely at contract.
I know it’s sounds strange, but it’s true. Due to an obscure 1873 Texas law, you need to immediately fire your entire art department and replace them all with people who’ve been legally blind since birth.
LAWYER consults a dusty law book.
Looks like it.
Per our discussion yesterday, we’re going to need you to make this Walking Dead game on a tighter budget than we originally planned.
Well, if we needed to, I think we could get a decent product together for around $15 million.
We were thinking more along the lines of 10.
10 million? We could probably live with that.
No, no, no, sorry. 10 dollars.
I don’t know if what you guys are doing so far really captures the spirit of the show. Where’s the part where you spend hours looking for gasoline? Where’s the part where you leave people you barely know to die without any emotional impact?
With all due respect, sir, I don’t really think those things define The Walking Dead for most people.
You know what was a good game? The Oregon Trail. You should make this thing like The Oregon Trail.
Yeah. People love staring at maps, having to meticulously manage their supplies, and building incredibly shallow relationships with completely expendable characters.
I guess we could work a few of those features into the game. I mean, they don’t really mesh with the mechanics we have now or the vibe of the universe, but maybe we could find a way.
Also, put in a ton of invisible walls for no good reason.
I know it’s been hard for all of us since Bill’s untimely passing. He was our friend, our colleague, and our lead gameplay designer, but I think we owe it to him to finish the game the way he wanted it to be made.
JUNIOR DEVELOPER 1
But how will we know what to do without him? He was amazing!
JUNIOR DEVELOPER 2
Yeah, Bill was the best thing to ever happen to us!
It’s OK, guys. It’s OK. I visited him at the hospital shortly before he passed, and he gave me these.
SENIOR DEVELOPER reaches into his bag and pulls out two sheets of paper.
SENIOR DEVELOPER (CONT’D)
One of them lists the features that we should definitely put in the game. The other lists things that we should never, ever, ever include.
JUNIOR DEVELOPER 1
So, uh, which sheet is which?
Though a functional game at the most basic level, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is an absolute disaster from start to finish. It feels like Terminal Reality duct-taped several different half-finished projects together and assumed the brand tie-in would move units. It's an absolute disgrace—both to the TV show it's based on and videogames as a whole.
M – Mature
|The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and Wii U. Primary version played was for Xbox 360. Product was provided by Activision for the benefit of this coverage. EGM reviews on a scale of one to five stars.