I have been watching the build up to release for The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct with great interest. The signs and omens Activision has given us have all pointed to the same frightening conclusion we wanted to hope was untrue: the game is a shitty franchise exploitation. Still, we waited and hoped. The game showed promise. There were some very good ideas being expressed as gameplay elements, for all that things looked bad, it could still be absolutely incredible.
Survival Instinct is out now, and it is exactly what we feared. It is a horribly rushed franchise tie-in trying to milk some money from the unaware. The glitches shown in the video above are the start, but not the full extent of the problems with the game. Most damning of all is simply that it does not accurately portray the feel of The Walking Dead, something that Telltale Games proved is not only possible but extremely powerful when done correctly.
Hopefully this can serve as a reminder to the modern age of when such terrible blatant tie-ins were common. Being able to trust a given license is a good thing, but trust should not be blind. Activision did not trust anyone with more than a cursory glance at their product because they knew it was bad.
Still, there are always people who try to pin the blame elsewhere. Metacritic is currently split, with most reviews either scoring around a three or being at the top of the scale. Many of them comically give the game a perfect score, even while admitting it has flaws or “isn’t as good as Telltale”. Some of these are undoubtedly people paid specifically to deluge the site with positive reviews to keep the score from tanking too hard, but it stretches credibility to believe they all are.
In the age of modern digital business, it is important to remember that this is another marketing tool, and that it doesn’t change facts. No matter how many of these people genuinely enjoy the game, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct remains the rushed, shitty tie-in that it looked to be before we ever got a look at it. And that is a damn shame.