Should We Be Worried About The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct?

When Telltale Games first released 2012’s The Walking Dead, I don’t think anyone was expecting the GOTY-worthy game that they produced given their earlier efforts. It easily set the bar for story writing in video games. Naturally, you could understand why we would keep a close eye on Terminal Reality’s take on The Walking Dead TV series. The game, called The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, is a first-person shooter starring TV series characters Daryl and Merle Dixon.

While previews of the game’s plot and gameplay seem promising, the first gameplay footage has me worried that this is another publisher (Activision) trying to cash in on a hot license and the result will be another terrible TV licensed game.

The gameplay video above isn’t from the developer or publisher but a fan made trailer from footage originally shown by IGN. It’s from an early stage of development this gameplay is from, though whether that’s pre-alpha or an alpha build, I haven’t been able to ascertain. However, as it stands, Activision and Terminal Reality are in for a massive amount of backlash. The textures are terrible and look like they’re a generation old. The zombies look unique from each other but are poorly/stiffly animated and they also have texture issues as they all seem a bit glossy. We don’t see much in terms of actual action but it seems fairly generic.

The problem with the gameplay video is that it’s the opposite of what we’ve been promised so far by Terminal Reality. The developers have touted resource and survivor group management as key features but this video shows a nameless Dixon brother slowly navigating a small Georgian town. They talk about player choice as a key part of the gameplay experience but we don’t see any of that. The importance of stealth and carefully assessing your surroundings are also noted by TR but approaching a zombie from behind is shown once and any other zombie interaction is caused charging head-first into hordes of the undead.

The problem Terminal Reality has is that the bar for a Walking Dead game was set nearly impossibly high by Telltale Games. While this game has the advantage of having fan-favourite Daryl in the game, they didn’t show anything uniquely Daryl. A well-executed Daryl story and a unique zombie apocalypse experience that recreates the TV show is what fans want. That’s what Terminal Reality has promised but it’s not what they’ve shown.

What’s really worrying is that The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is due out this year but looks nowhere near ready for release. I know I said it’s at best an alpha build of the game but check out some pre-alpha footage of Project CARS and you’ll quickly realize that a game can look great even at an early stage of development. With release likely happening in September or October in order to cash in on the premiere of Season 4 of the TV show, TR has less than nine months to get this to market and a long list of issues needing to be addressed in that short period of time.

Terminal Reality isn’t a triple-A developer but they usually produce games that receive mixed to positive reviews with their highlight being the recent Ghostbusters game. They were also the developer of the terrible Kinect Star Wars so just because their games are generally well received, it doesn’t mean their immune from making a bomb. I hope this isn’t a cash grab and Terminal Reality has something special in store for us that we haven’t seen. Right now, it’s hard to be optimistic about the end product.


About Steve Murray

Steve is the founder and editor of The Lowdown Blog and et geekera. On The Lowdown Blog, he often writes about motorsports, hockey, politics and pop culture. Over on et geekera, Steve writes about geek interests and lifestyle. Steve is on Twitter at @TheSteveMurray.

Posted on January 7, 2013, in Games and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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