Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead has become one of the more popular comic book licenses over the past few years – and there’s no doubt that the AMC TV show adaptation has helped fuel that fire, with a key selection of actors and some pretty good storytelling (not to mention those morbid deaths that make fans shudder).
But what about video games? Well, over the past few years, we’ve seen our fair share of those as well, including ones licensed from the TV show, as well as the direct Walking Dead property, but taking a new direction all their own. Some have fared better than others, mainly due to more devoted teams working on them, and not leaning so heavily on the franchise.
There are plenty of Walking Dead mobile games on the market, but let’s take a closer look at the console and arcade based ones, as they seem to have more popularity going for them. There aren’t as many of those making the rounds, but those are worth pointing out, if only to discuss their perks and flaws alike.
Without further ado, let’s run down some of the more memorable – and forgettable – Walking Dead games making the rounds.
The Walking Dead: Battleground
Yep, for some reason, Jakks Pacific thought that a plug-and-play Walking Dead shoot-em-up game would do well on the market. Granted, it’s a novel idea, and done with the same level of quality as Sega’s House of the Dead games, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t succeed. Unfortunately, the final product is quite shoddy, with very poor visuals, bad music, and the kind of one-off gameplay that doesn’t even come close to justifying the cost of the game. If you really want a zombie shoot-em-up, go to the arcade and plunk a few bucks into The Walking Dead Arcade…which we’ll discuss shortly.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
Take the marketing and developmental knowhow of Activision (the team behind Call of Duty), and the AMC The Walking Dead franchise, and you should have lightning in a bottle, right? An intense zombie shooter that could very well live up to the likes of Left 4 Dead. Unfortunately, that’s just not what we get with Survival Instinct. This game ended up dead on arrival, thanks to poor gameplay, bad visuals (nowhere near Call of Duty’s level), and the kind of lackluster storytelling that might serve as an embarrassment for the show’s writers. Even Robert Kirkman refused to acknowledge this game’s existence…and for good reason.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead
Now this is how you produce a Walking Dead game. Based more on its own original storyline, Telltale’s The Walking Dead has been a triumph since the release of the first season a few years back, introducing us to compelling characters like Clementine, and their plight when it comes to dealing with the undead. The original season was a masterpiece, and the following two seasons – including the recent A New Frontier that’s still going strong – have done well too, forcing the player to make tough choices when it comes to survival. Let’s hope this series keeps going strong for years to come.
The Walking Dead: Michonne
Not content on just telling one story with the franchise, Telltale opted to give The Walking Dead star Michonne a tale of her own to tell with a sub-series, which came out last year for various platforms. Though some players preferred the original Walking Dead series from the publisher over this one, it got a lot of things right, including the terrific visual style and the overbearing sense of dread that hangs over the tough decisions you have to make. We’d definitely be down to seeing more of Michonne in action. And for that matter, maybe Daryl?
The Walking Dead Arcade
This is what The Walking Dead: Battleground should’ve been. The team at Raw Thrills, who previously worked on such arcade shooters as Terminator: Salvation and the Aliens games, work their magic on this tense, action-packed shoot-em-up, where you help a group of survivors by shooting zombies in the best way possible. Though a bit on the short side, this game delivers all the intensity you’ve come to expect from the show…and far less silly storytelling. Still, we do wish it had come with a Negan mode. Maybe Raw Thrills is saving that for the sequel.
The Walking Dead Pinball (Zen Studios, Arcade)
There were not one but two great Walking Dead pinball experiences that we’ve seen over the past few years. The first was designed by Zen Studios, based around the Telltale’s The Walking Dead series, and it’s very well done, featuring a design that’s definitely on the moody side of things, as well as plenty of bonus rounds to shoot for. It almost makes us want a Michonne table.
Meanwhile, if you prefer real pinball, Stern has you covered with an official AMC’s The Walking Dead machine – and it’s nothing short of awesome. Featuring some quality video and voicework from the show, along with a wonderfully designed table and plenty of bonus rounds to shoot for, it’s a must-own for fans of the series. Can’t afford the real thing? Don’t sweat it – it’ll likely be coming to Stern’s home release Stern Pinball Arcade soon enough.
Overkill’s The Walking Dead
We recently took an extended look at this forthcoming effort from Overkill, the same team behind the Payday games, and while we’ll be waiting a while to get it (it’s not slated to arrive until late 2018), it’ll certainly be worth the wait. Overkill’s The Walking Dead promises to take its inspiration from Robert Kirkman’s comic and build an original story around it, as you make your way through danger-filled situations alongside a friend in co-op fashion. We’ve only seen glimpses of this game in action, but it’s definitely looking very promising – and we’ll bet that it’s a complete blast to play online.