a portfolio of videogame writings
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct never manages to evoke the instinctual need to survive, despite how hard it tries. Yes, there are moments when the undead horde will take you by surprise, but these are easily navigated with a sharp sprint and a swipe of your blade. Likewise, the only resources that you need to manage are health and fuel, neither of which are in particularly short supply.
What Survival Instinct does evoke are memories of cheap videogame adaptations of popular media franchises, games like Superman 64 and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Cosmetically, it looks and sounds like its Television counterpart, with the stirring strings of Bear McCreary’s show theme and the recognisable figures of the redneck Dixon brothers front and centre, but it fails to recreate the core appeal of its franchise in interactive form. And unfortunately for Survival Instinct the franchise in question has already spawned a critically acclaimed and commercially successful videogame adaptation, which inevitably draws unfavourable comparisons.
Telltale Games’ 2012 point and click adventure, The Walking Dead, challenged players with difficult moral quandaries that affected the lives of a well-drawn group of characters against the backdrop of an awful situation. It was affecting because it was relatable, difficult because it made you care; that’s why it won so many Game of the Year awards. By comparison, Terminal Reality’s The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is a mechanically flawed stealth-action title in which your protagonist shouts “BAAAYM” after stabbing zombies in the head. There’s nothing relatable or difficult about it.