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The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct Review

Does Terminal Reality's new survival-based first-person shooter adequately portray AMC's high-profile zombie drama, or is it a catastrophe? Jump in to find out!

Developer: Terminal Reality
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: March 19, 2013
Genre: Action, Shooter, Horror
Platform: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PS3, Wii U & PC
Price: $49.99
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is an interesting first-person shooter from Terminal Reality that brings the gritty, horror-infused world of AMC's hit thriller to the world of gaming. Rather than being based on the comic series as Telltale's wildly popular multi-platform series, Terminal Reality's rendition instead makes use of the television show as source material.
Survival Instinct is a prequel to the events in the show and tells the story of Daryl and Merle Dixon right after the infection has spread. Players take the role of the lethal crossbow-wielding Daryl Dixon in a grisly and bloody battle for survival–but he's not alone.  Along the way Daryl finds many survivors of all types to aid him in his journey across the ruined state of Georgia.
While the number of undead rises with each passing minute, Daryl evens the odds with an impressive arsenal of firearms–everything from pistols, shotguns, assault rifles and of course his signature crossbow–and melee weapons–fire axes, lead pipes, hunting knives and sledgehammers.
Armed and ready to defend themselves, Daryl's group plots their route across many locations, searching for supplies, survivors, and a way out of the nightmare they've found themselves in.
Survival Instinct chronicles the emotional and physical struggle of Daryl as he pushes through a state full of roaming undead ghouls, trying to do what he can to save people along the way. Players can tackle each mission and level as they see fit, using strategic stealthiness or going in with guns blazing–the choice is yours.
Terminal Reality's adaptation does let player down in a few areas such as the game's overall unfinished feel with bad graphics and renders to the lack of any sort of multiplayer–not even split-screen co-op. The game does try to reflect the show's signature blend of drama and horror, but fails to bring any sort of substance to the characters themselves. Additionally, there are no elements of psychological terror featured in the game, and it just doesn't feel like it fits in the series very well.
It seems to capitalize on one of the most popular characters of the show–Darly Dixon–and doesn't offer very much substance for any actual game. In short, it's a relentless and brutal shooter/stealth game that was slapped with "The Walking Dead" and shoved into stores before it was finished. In any case, the game does have its share of interesting mechanics, but even these are so watered down with mediocrity that its hard to look past the overwhelming sense of cheapness.
Additionally, the game follows Daryl as he tries to overcome personal struggles such as his father being killed by walkers–which is then shrugged off and not met with any sort of reaction. Daryl is a touch character, of course, but the game lacks any sort of connection even with the main character and doesn't give us much reason to care about him (unless you've seen the show).
This lack of drama makes nearly every terrible event in the game seem paltry and badly executed, which is a shame because Survival Instinct could have been a good game if it made better use of the show's signature themes.

Derek Strickland
Derek is an avid fan of gaming and everything geeky, and is compelled to make his mark in the field of games journalism. When he's not gaming on a console (everything from SNES to X360) you can find him reading about ancient civilizations or enjoying a fantasy epic or two.

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