The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct - FPS? Less of the S, if you don't mind

Log investigates Terminal Reality's misjudged first-person adventure

For a while, Survival Instinct was described as "The Walking Dead FPS". That was a poisonous misnomer, and one that led to instant mistrust. A first-person shooter? Haven't they read the comics or watched the TV show? Shooting a gun is a last-ditch act of desperation. You want to spear those lurching sods in the eyehole with a nice quiet bit of pipe.


Fortunately, Terminal Reality has read the book, and is taking its direction from American TV channel AMC's zombie bible. Near the top is the fact that they're not zombies, they're Walkers. You'll also notice the same washed-out sepia tones from the TV show. Another, less obvious rule came up when some toothless Walker designs were rejected. In The Walking Dead, Walkers don't just have full sets of teeth - they're pushed forward to make them extra bitey.

Set before the first season of the show, while TV lead Rick is still in a coma, Survival Instinct is the story of Daryl and Merle. It's difficult to talk without spoilers - but let's just say that redneck Daryl has slowly become a fan favourite, and Merle is his elder brother, and a hateful paranoid racist.

The mission we're shown is a fairly dumb reason to walk around a map. "Collect five boxes of fireworks" sounds more like an MMO mission than that of a convincing first-person game, but it gives Terminal Reality a way of showing us how it's created that Walker paranoia. Any of the randomly placed corpses in the levels could spring into life, and if you're spotted, you should probably run.

If you make 'human' noises, such as gunfire or breaking glass, they'll home in on that noise. However, this can work in your favour - bottles that you find can be thrown to create a distraction. You'll need it - a brawl with up to three Walkers is just about survivable. Any more, and you're meat.

That said, there are times when guns are perfectly acceptable. When you set the fireworks off in a chapel, the noise and spectacle is enough to let you be a little more weapons-free - providing you've got enough ammo. As you play through the game, you'll need to deal with survivors and resources, and you'll have to make some permanent decisions about who to take with you, and how much you're willing to give them. The resource management won't be as consequential or harsh as XCOM, but recklessness will put you at a disadvantage.


At the moment, Terminal Reality is making all the right noises for Survival Instinct - even if we're holding judgement until we get our hands dirty. We're also still apprehensive about the premise stretching to fill a full-length game, and the ability of the shooter to deliver the same emotional tension of Telltale's episodic XBLA version. But the idea of living through the early days of a zombie apocalypse is massively appealing, and if you're more keen on sticking machetes into undead noggins than emotional ties, this might fill a bloodthirsty gap.