Tanner Reviews The Walking Dead: Survival Instincts

I'm falling asleep staring at the box cover.
I’m falling asleep staring at the box cover.

PIECE OF SHIT!!! This game is a piece of shit! Thank God I have the rule that I rent a game before I pay the full price for it because Dear Lord Walking Dead: Survival Instincts is a failure on just about every level that you can possibly fail at a video game. I guess it was expected. I mean The Walking Dead cannot continue to ride the high kite forever. Eventually something would have to come out that fails even with fans of series. But man I didn’t think this game would sink that far. Rushed, unfinished, clunky, poorly rendered, bad plot, bad direction, are just a few phrases we could use to describe this thing!

I just find it so fascinating that we can go from the genius that was TellTale’s Walking Dead to what we are looking at now. All Activision and Terminal Reality would have had to do was play TellTale’s game and get ideas from that or hell just play their own game and see how shitty it was. But apparently that was just too much for them to handle.

I’ll be honest there is no redeemable qualities for this game. There is nothing I took joy in or I could really pick out as at least decent and that is bad coming from me who can at least find some silver lining in the worst of things. So what we are going to do is take a look at all the reasons why this game failed as bad as it did.

It is Unifinished and Rushed

You would think this is a pic from the movie. But actually it is Walking Dead fans getting their money back from an Activision employee.
You would think this is a pic from the game. But actually it is Walking Dead fans getting their money back from an Activision employee.

Now I had heard about this game even before I knew of Telltale’s game. It had been in the works since the success of the first season and early adaptations stated that the game was going to be a character based adaptation of the television show. So pretty much Telltale’s game but with graphics that made characters look like actors in the show. The early box covers had Rick Grimes approaching the farm and appeared to be you taking control of Rick Grimes in some fashion. It didn’t look amazing but it didn’t look bad either.

But then something happened and I can actually see it unfold before me. Norman Reedus’ character Daryl Dixon gained popularity in the first season and REALLY became a fan favorite in the second season. With such high success, Activision wanted to cash in on this new craze and instead of having Daryl be a character in the game, he would become the focus… Now you see where this is going to be a problem. Aside from certain aspects of the game, you are going to have to scrap and rework the entire games story AND setting. However instead of pushing the release date back giving these developers more time to build a new story, they kept the same date wanting to cash in on the up and coming season 3 finale. Because of this, the game feels completely unfinished and is the primary reason and the causation for most of the other problems with the game.

Technical: Graphics

It has been a LONG time since I have played a game that makes me feel like I am playing on my old Playstation 1 that I have deep in the catacombs of my basement. The graphics are appalling and not even close to what the standard in video game graphics should be. It is VERY poorly rendered, constantly rehashes the same back drops and areas, The houses have insanely small windows and are scaled horribly, and some backgrounds look like they are straight out of the 90’s Doom engine graphics.


Gameplay is a complete bore and add in a completely bland soundtrack and you have a game that will easily cure insomnia. The first person perspective is nothing more than the homeless man’s version of Call of Duty (also published by Activision) and the controls are clunky and boring. But the real crime is the fact that it COMPLETELY MISSES WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A WALKING DEAD FRANCHISE! The Walking Dead is one of the few zombies stories where character drama and individuals are the center crux of the story not zombie combat. But this thing is nothing more than a zombie shooter, it misses the whole idea of what makes the show watchable and the comic books readable. I mean sure they do add in some decently creative ways to kill zombies but that is not what the show is about. If you want to walk around and kill zombies and cool and creative ways play Dead Rising which is a much better game!

You merely wonder around aimlessly in the same settings killing zombies and every now and again sharing in a derivative story and some banter between Daryl and his brother Merle. All of the settings are pretty much carbon copies of each other and their is very little variant between the zombies that you encounter. There are a few other survivors that you encounter but they are pretty useless to the plot since you know damn well that this is a prequel to the show so you obviously know that none of these original characters are going to make it to the show.

The Game Revolves Around the Dixon Siblings

Is that suppose to be Merle Dixon? It looks like the Hell's Angel's token soap dropper.
Is that suppose to be Merle Dixon? It looks like the Hell’s Angel’s token soap dropper.

I am a plot oriented guy when it comes to games. I can forgive substandard graphics and controls if it has a good story backing it up a good amount of the time. But this really isn’t the case here.

For a second I want to talk about why TellTale’s The Walking Dead was so successful. Not only did it understand what made the comic book and the show so enjoyable by focusing on character development more than zombie combat, BUT they told their own damn story.

TellTale told their own story within the universe. They had a few cameos from Hershel Greene and Glenn as well as an attempt to put Lilly Caul in the mix. Though that was later retconned to an original characters after Kirkman’s book was released. One of the few good retcons in the history of retcons. Sure some characters from the comic book popped up BUT it wasn’t their story. It was the story of Lee Everett, Clementine, and their group. It tied itself into the universe then got rid of the comic book characters because their story was already told or in the process of being told in the comic books.

In this game you are playing the prequel of Daryl Dixon and Merle Dixon. Guess what? We already know them! We know their story and are in the process of knowing more from the show. Except for the die hard Dixon fans out there, we don’t care about Daryl and Merle’s backstory. Sure it would be nice to see it in the game, it would be a cool easter egg or B-Plot but it shouldn’t be the center part of the story. Because we know that Merle and Daryl make it to Atlanta. Unless they meet another Atlanta survivor like T-Dog, Carol, Glenn, or so forth then we know the original characters are going to die or go away. Why get invested in them? We know they are goners. Why get invested in the Dixon brothers? We already know them unless you are just dying to know more there is really no reason to play the game!

I understand that graphics and gameplay are really what sucks about this game, but I will always be a plot first kind of person and for me this is what took this game behind the woodshed and beat it into submission.


This was bound to happen eventually. With a series like the Walking Dead being a popular as it is, at some point someone was going to come around and take a big steaming pile of shit on it.

Walking Dead: Survival Instincts is a boring uninspired first person shooter that completely misses the point of the series as a whole. It gladly abandons the core premise of its source material, abandoning character driven story in exchange for shitty Call of Duty first person shooters. It gives a story that nobody was asking for and characters that people have zero reason to connect to.

Final Score: 0/5. This is one of those games that comes around once in a while. There is nothing redeemable about it. I wouldn’t buy it for $5. I feel dirty for spending the $2 dollars renting it. If someone paid me $10 I would take it off their hands just so I could shit on it and burn the remains.

For the love of God. I am so tired of reviewing things that involve Norman Reedus and zombies. Next time I promise my review will include neither of the two.

7 thoughts on “Tanner Reviews The Walking Dead: Survival Instincts”

  1. You about nailed it on the head… Personally I didn’t hate the gameplay per say, I mean killing zombies, getting food and fuel, and trying not to die is basically what I expected and thought if done right it could still be great (but they didn’t do it right!!!!).

    The premise of learning the survivors’ on the show back stories appealed to me too. But they didn’t even really tell a story in the game; you’re hunting when you first see a zombie attack now you’re trying to get to Atlanta… No build up to make me want to like the characters, hardly any cut scenes with decent dialog (Merle on the roof top shooting cars was the ONLY interesting scene IMO and it blew). If they had an intro movie showing the Dixons at a young age and growing up and the reasons for why they are who they are on the show and I likely would’ve liked it more (a few bar fight levels, school yard brawls, something to get me attached to Daryl since this is HIS game/story and explain about the man before the out break).

    How every neighborhood you went to get supplies from looked the same even though you traveled a ways made it boring. You’d think with the game being so short and them reusing the “supply maps” over and over that could have atleast made the graphics borderline great, but they didn’t. The zombie AI was so-so but overall it was OK…. Who am I to say a zombie wouldn’t try to keep walking into a wall, but flashing my flashlight on and off seemed to get their attention which I did like.

    Over all I’m glad I never “won the chance to be a zombie in the game”, because I feel bad enough just from playing it let alone actually being involved with it any deeper.

    1. I love what you said about the gameplay. Because YES the collecting gas, food, and supplies is a damn good idea if it is done correctly. I think that is another thing that makes me mad at shitty games in general is because most of them have good ideas and if the developers would have just had a little bit more time before being pushed out the door it would be phenomenal.

      I do not mind adding in backstory to a character in a game. But I think the Dixon brothers being the focus was a mistake. If they would have made it that they were in the story just not the protagonists and created an original character we could have gotten good back story on the brothers and learned about this new interesting character that could show up in future games.

  2. I usually do not leave a response, but I glanced through
    some comments here Tanner Reviews The Walking Dead:
    Survival Instincts (3/20/2013) | Tanner Reviews.
    I actually do have 2 questions for you if you tend not to mind.
    Is it simply me or do some of the remarks look as if they are written by
    brain dead people? :-P And, if you are writing at additional social sites, I’d like to follow everything fresh you have to post. Would you post a list of every one of your social community pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

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