I am a big fan of The Walking Dead. I mean I like zombies in general, but there's something about TWD as a series that is engaging and heart wrenching, beautiful and sad, all at the same time.
It focuses on the stories of the people not the zombies, which to some extent exist merely as a backdrop for survival in this world. At this point in time there are 18 trade paperbacks of an ongoing story, where the group grows and expands, some elements moving on, some dying. It's dynamic and "real" (in the loosest sense of the word given that there are zombies in the mix).
When the TV series was released and it deviated from the books, I was strangely not bothered. I thought the show was a good interpretation, and given the fact that creator Robert Kirkman is involved with the show as well, the characters are still interesting and their personalities evolve and develop continuously. Yes, there are characters such as Merle and Daryl Nixon that aren't in the books, yes they take a bit of license when it comes to elements of the story, but overall the feel of the universe is the same, and so it remains compelling.
Then came The Walking Dead the video game by Telltale Games. A story that follows a parallel course to the comics, most of the characters in the game are original and not a part of the main storyline. It's an episodic game, released in 5 parts, and revitalised the point and click adventure genre significantly. The entire game is based on choice, and the story is so emotionally compelling that I was perpetually on the edge of my seat.
So with all these wonderful examples setting a precedent, how did it all go so wrong with The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct? This was a game I somehow picked up on quite late and so only became aware of it a couple of weeks ago. When it was dropped off on my desk this morning, my heart sank. Not because of the concept, but because somehow I knew, just by looking at the screenshots on the back of the box, that it was going to be bad.
As the old adage goes, "Don't judge a book by its cover", and of course I will play and review it accordingly. I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised, but judging by the scores that have started to roll in internationally, I can't say I hold out much hope.
The game follows Daryl and Merle Dixon, the new characters introduced in the TV series, but it feels more like an obvious attempt to cash in on a successful franchise than an honest attempt at a game that successfully supplements the storyline.
Here's some cover art. Much as I like Norman Reedus, I fear even his awesome character (Daryl) can't save this game.
More thoughts to follow soon.