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Video Game / The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct

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The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is a 2013 First-Person Shooter developed by Terminal Reality Games and published by Activision for PS3, Xbox 360, PC and Wii U. It is set in the continuity of the AMC TV series, and follows Merle and Daryl Dixon as they fight to survive during the initial outbreak of walkers during the Zombie Apocalypse.

After the death of a loved one, Daryl Dixon and his friend Jess Collins decide to leave their mountainous retreat and find supplies and assistance from a nearby town. As the game progresses, Daryl eventually comes into contact with several survivors - and eventually Merle, who he discovers in the town of Fontana attempting to hold off a group of soldiers. Together, the duo make their way across Georgia, scavenging for supplies and meeting more survivors.

Missions typically consist of Daryl receiving quests from other survivors and/or having to find supplies to keep the survivors' convoy running. In between missions, the player can choose which routes to travel, and have opportunities to scavenge items from small villages.

The game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Commands: When a zombie gets too close you have to do a QTE minigame where you move the view to the center of the zombie's head and then press the trigger to stab them, killing them instantly. It then switches to the nearby zombie and repeats until all the nearby zombies are dead.
  • Anyone Can Die: Just like the TV show, nobody is immune to the zombie infection and anyone who gets bitten is as good as dead. If you aren't careful with your survivor management, they can disappear for good too.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Due to how the zombies are coded, some funny quirks occur. They pound on the outside of chain-link fences, but if you open one, then close it after a few slip through, they get confused and start beating on it to be let out, ignoring you and pushing the gate against their friends on the other side.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Firearms can kill zombies with a single headshot, but ammo is incredibly scarce, and firing off a single bullet will draw every zombie in the area to your direction. They do occasionally however prove incredibly useful when circumstances outside your control like the alarm at Clara-Chem arise, which basically allows (and forces) you to go loud and start handing out lead lobotomies to any Walkers who plan on adding you to the menu. Plus, it’s entirely possible to annihilate the scores of Walkers infesting an area you’re planning to loot if you’ve got enough ammunition to take them on.
  • Boom, Headshot!: There isn't much point to shooting walkers anywhere else, as they’ll shrug off everything that isn’t head trauma or being turned into Ludicrous Gibs.
  • Call-Back / Call-Forward: Merle's first appearance has him firing off rounds from a rifle on top of a building, much the same as his first show appearance in the first-season episode "Guts".
  • Checkpoint Starvation: Prevalent. You can be 15-30 minutes into a level, die and have to start the whole level from scratch. Luckily, sidequests and parts of the main quest act as checkpoints, from where you can start from when you die.
  • Clown-Car Grave: The game will spawn more zombies even after you have cleared out an entire area.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The game will often spawn zombies behind you, into areas they couldn't possibly have gotten into otherwise, such as closed rooms (since it's established that they can't open doors) or rooftops (since they can't climb ladders or roof-hop). A few times the game may spawn a stationary zombie less than a dozen feet behind you when you pass through a door.
  • Death of a Child: It can happen if you let Jane die, with her last words being her screaming about the zombies eating her unborn child.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The tutorial level has you briefly playing as Daryl's father, who acts as a Silent Protagonist before being overwhelmed by Walkers.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The sledgehammer can be this. Its swing is incredibly slow, so it takes practice to get the timing right, but once you do you can reliably kill zombies with a single hit to the head each. It's probably the best melee weapon in the game, not counting those added by the DLC pack.
  • Drive-In Theater: One of the places Daryl and Merle stop at is a drive in theater where an old lady is using the giant screen to distract the hordes of zombies. One of the missions here involves Daryl rescuing her cat from a nearby house.
  • Driven to Suicide: You can find several corpses that did this throughout the game.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: After spending the entire game armed only with a knife and some civilian-grade firearms with extremely limited ammo, you find an assault rifle and a reasonable amount of ammo for it in the final level. This makes the finale much more of an action-packed shooter.
  • Fake Difficulty: The game is difficult, but only because there are so few checkpoints and the level designers keep spawning zombies as soon as you feel remotely safe.
  • Fake Longevity: Things like your car breaking down or running out of fuel are symptomatic of this, since you cannot send your survivors to scavenge and each of the maps are the same.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Being a prequel to the show, going in, it's obvious Daryl and Merle will make it out alive. Everyone else though is fair game.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Each survivor has their own statistics and preferred weapons, but some of them are only temporary and you can only have about three or four at most. You'll have to replay the game in order to get the other ones.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: Whenever you have to grapple with the zombies, you're given a detailed close up of their rotted faces before you knife them.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Daryl restores his health by consuming energy drinks and MREs that he finds scattered throughout the levels. The MREs seem to restore about half of his total health while the energy drink gives him back about a third of it.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Even near the beginning of the game Daryl has no trouble carrying enough food, weapons and ammo to stock up a small militia.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The infinite ammo relic. In order to get it, you have to unlock all the other relics, which entails replaying the game at least 2 or 3 times. However, it completely changes the tone of the game (since it gives you infinite ammo) and is actually quite cathartic.
  • Level in Reverse: Randomly-generated scavenge missions use the same geometry, and move around where the zombies and items are located. Often, you start where the item was last time and vice versa.
  • Loading Screen: The first one is the longest, the rest are pretty quick and are hidden by the dotted line moving across the map which represents your car's journey.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The bikers who make off with Daryl’s gear don’t get far before they’re torn apart by Walkers, with their ill-gotten gains retrieved by their original owner shortly afterwards.
  • Monsters Everywhere: There are walkers everywhere, and more spawn when you kill the current ones. Although, they often spawn slowly enough that you can explore an area with significantly less risk of being attacked if you manage to wipe out the Walkers infesting the place.
  • Mooks, but no Bosses: As the game is aiming for realism, there are no 'super zombies'. You do get the occasional zombie herd though but you usually have to run. If you're in Herd Mode, however, there's no running away.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: The Herd Mode DLC is a single-player riff on Horde Mode from Gears of War, as well as Call of Duty's famous Nazi Zombies.
  • More Dakka: The assault rifle gained in the final level (and unlockable once you beat the game) is fully automatic, packs 30 rounds per mag, and is a beast in the hands of a player with good trigger discipline, enabling them to gun down hordes of attacking walkers with near-impunity.
  • Mythology Gag: Like in the TV series, Mere is first introduced sniping at Walkers at the top of a building.
  • New Game Plus: You unlock 'relics' with the survivors you saved from the previous game, which can give you bonuses such as starting with a crossbow or moving silently.
  • No-Gear Level: Happens when you get Daryl's signature weapon, the crossbow.
  • No Ending: Merle stops Daryl from getting on the helicopter, and explains that the pilot is infected. They get back into their vehicle and plan to continue searching for survivors, and then the game cuts to the end credits.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: The human characters generally have a realistic appearance, since they're supposed to fit with the tv show, albeit with relatively low-polygon budget-level 7th gen character models. However, the zombies are very stylized and semi-cartoonish, looking like they were taken straight out of the Telltale Games series which was based more on the comics.
  • One-Hit Polykill: Happens with shotgun kills.
  • 100% Completion: Each survivor you bring with you to the final level earns you a different perk for New Game Plus. Since you can only bring a maximum of 3 or 4 survivors per game, getting all possible survivors requires multiple playthroughs. The game's relatively short, though, and saving all the survivors earns you unlimited ammo.
  • One-Man Army: Zig-Zagged. While is is nearly impossible for Daryl to take on more than three zombies in head-on combat, he can still kill all the walkers with the most ease out of anyone. At the final level however, Daryl is forced to play this entirely straight when he’s forced to make a dead sprint to the evacuation zone, all the while fighting off dozens of Walkers gunning for him from all directions.
  • On-Site Procurement: You find most of the useful equipment in the game this way, besides some of the more special weapons.
  • Prequel: Set before the brothers met up with the Atlanta survivors.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Daryl punches a mirror in anger after his father dies. After this point, every mirror you come across is broken.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: It is impossible to kill zombies in this game with torso shots. Even if you use the infinite ammo perk, you can shoot a zombie in the torso all day and it still won't die. You either have to aim for the head, dismember the limbs or blow them to pieces.
  • Scripted Event: Some survivors cannot die and cannot be dismissed. When you step into certain areas, they trigger a cutscene from where the players has no control over what happens.
  • Sidetrack Bonus: There are hidden items and collectables just off the beaten path.
  • Shout-Out: Several to the TV show, including Andrea and Amy being namedropped, the usage of "sorry brother" when putting down a zombie infectee, squirrels (Daryl's unofficial symbol) and Merle sniping from a rooftop. One of the achievements is also a shout out to the "arrow in the knee" meme from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
  • Stealth-Based Game: Due to the overwhelming number of zombies, the choices are either to sneak past them or take them out one by one. Walkers can be taken out in one hit with a stealth attack but you can't one-shot them outside of stealth early on in the game, so stealth wins until you get enough ammo/skills.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: Daryl and the survivors he’s picked up decide to go to Firesign Stadium upon hearing its been turned into a fortified refugee camp, but by the time they get there they find it in the process of being overrun by a Walker swarm with most of the military forces present having been wiped out. As a result, the group has to flee and fight their way through crowds of infected to reach one of the rescue helicopters.
  • Starter Equipment: Daryl's first weapon is a large knife which he uses in all of his zombie executions. Completing the game and unlocking certain relics can allow Daryl to start his journey with a significantly beefier arsenal.
  • The Unfought: At several points during the game, Daryl and Merle earn the wrath of U.S. soldiers and a gang of bikers. At no point do you actually fight them, or any other human enemies.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The plot. Daryl first realises what’s happening when his father is ambushed and torn apart by undead during a hunting trip, then besieged along with Jess inside their hunting cabin by a mob of them. By the time they come down from the wilderness to find out what’s going on, all of the locations that they pass through have been either overwhelmed by the infected or are about to be, with the only living people Daryl finds being the ones who barricaded themselves inside and kept quiet.
  • Zerg Rush: In the game, Daryl will find himself heavily outnumbered by the infected nine times out of ten. As a result, if he isn’t careful and makes too much noise, Daryl can find himself mobbed by every single Walker in the area, which usually ends in his gruesome death if he lacks an escape route, or the resources and firepower needed to take care of them.
  • Zombie Infectee: Daryl's friend Jess is bitten at the end of the tutorial level. Since neither one knows of the effect that the bites have, Jess sticks around for a couple missions before finally turning.
    • Sheriff Turner is shown to be this when he picks up his daughter.
    • Harrison’s wife is also shown to be a case of this, with a bandage on her ankle displaying where she was attacked. Her husband asks Daryl to pick up some painkillers from the pharmacy up the road, but she succumbs and turns by the time he gets back and Harrison is forced to euthanise her.
    • Although it is never shown, the helicopter pilot at the end is said by Merle to be one, though it's ambiguous whether it's the truth or he is simply lying to keep his brother with him.