The Walking Dead is without a doubt one of the biggest and hottest properties around in terms of the number of fans and how much content it churns out based on the original comic book IP. We have the award winning and long running TV show, Telltale’s unfortunate series and of course a good handful of shovel ware money making schemes which I dare not call games (looking at you there Survival Instinct), and now we have a co-op shooter by none other than the acclaimed creators of the hit Payday franchise, Overkill Software.

When I first heard the news that Overkill would be taking on The Walking Dead, I was very intrigued and why wouldn’t I be? We could have the clever intensity and team-work oriented co-op play from something like Payday, mixed with the bleak and hard-hitting story telling of The Walking Dead. Unfortunately, it seems to be a lacking a good amount of both.

The game is built around a series of missions, much like Payday where you are given different objectives with the core gameplay loop. The core loop here mainly is hitting zombies with satisfying melee weapons, and using guns when it only gets really though. You do all this either to survive getting overrun by them as they come head on, or to locate certain items around a map, preferably by sneaking around, which lets you take out zombies silently. The whole loop is very simple.

“The combat is quite well developed, and it is satisfying to hit the zombies mainly due to a number of polish features, like the brilliant blood particle effects…”

For example in the first mission you play, you will be defending your base from zombies who have been lured to your base by a rival base, who manage to steal crucial supplies from your camp when you are occupied, which in turn then leads you to searching a neighbourhood for them in order to reclaim the water filter which you need. The game pretty much plays out similarly throughout as you scavenge or protect, mainly against the game’s antagonist base, “The Family“.

The combat is quite well developed, and it is satisfying to hit the zombies mainly due to a number of polish features, like the brilliant blood particle effects, satisfying impact sounds and zombie reactions to your hits which makes them stagger back. It is slower than something like Dying Light, where the weapon swings are quite quick due to the protagonist being a combatant and parkour being the game’s focus. Here the blunt weapon takes its time to swing in and back which gives it a weight. Only the blunt weapons have felt really satisfying to me so far or silenced guns which are limited in their use as the silencer breaks away after brief use. Most other guns just felt very weak than they should have been.

“because of a lack of character development, it has been prevented from being a unique co-op game…”

The Walking Dead in my opinion has mainly thrived due to how its characters develop with the situation at hand, keeping them on a thread between the good and bad, forcing them to take questionable actions to either protect themselves or their community. Something like this is seen in the original comic, TV show and even Telltale’s series. However, this game is devoid of that development and missions are connected loosely if at all.  I understand this is a multiplayer game, but because of a lack of character development, it has been prevented from being a unique co-op game. The only main character development here is the gameplay one, where you can unlock various skills for your characters.

There are four main characters you get to control in this game, Aidan, Heather, Grant and Maya, who you might have seen in the game’s debut CGI trailers, each with their own skills like Maya having healer attributes due to her having worked in the medical profession. As you can imagine the skills to improve for them complement their history. The only time you mainly really get to see them kick ass is in the game’s opening CGI cut-scene which a little is too well made for its own good as it does raise the expectations for the game’s storytelling, but you never really get much more of that.

“an unusual but fitting combination of Red and graphite colours that come together for some great image in image motion-graphic work”

And it is a shame too as otherwise the game is presented very solidly with an unusual, but fitting combination of Red and graphite colours that come together for some great image in image motion-graphic work which could have really helped tell a wonderful story. It’s not like the voice-over’s aren’t good, in fact they are done quite well but they have been used to set-up generic objectives and situations through intros or gameplay, much like Bain from Payday but with less interesting developments.

Base management stuff is available as well, but there isn’t really much that I really felt like I wanted to do, and would just randomly send out members out on scavenging trips. It is done through a menu system where you can decide who you want to send from a list of survivors, but it’s quite bare-bones that it is boring.

“the game is much easier when you strategise with your friends and are consistently talking to them to make them aware of the surroundings or calling for help, preventing you from getting overwhelmed.”

The game definitely is a lot of fun with friends though, especially if you have played Payday with them, as you will come across various missions where you can see a hint of Payday’s mission types, something I thought of as I was tasked with carrying heavy bags to a car or sneak around stealing items. Not to mention, the game is much easier when you strategise with your friends and are consistently talking to them to make them aware of the surroundings or calling for help, preventing you from getting overwhelmed.

The issues mainly come when you start playing alone either solo or with strangers, as the game gets difficult without a lot of co-ordination since the game is lacking a proper VoIP support, relying on Steams packaged integration which no one used as it doesn’t work fully. Of course people can always use Discord and the like which are amazingly advanced, but that doesn’t work when you are playing with strangers. Not to mention, I did not have that good of a time with the connection either as even on my fast fibre, I did disconnect a number of times, and you can’t play alone because the game isn’t balanced for solo play since unlike Payday you don’t get bots to help you out.

As you can imagine, there is tons of potential in having a co-op focused Walking Dead game, but one that hasn’t been realised quite so well yet with Overkill’s attempt. Whatever is fun like the brutal melee or stealth kills is drowned in a sea of generic quests and setups that do not use The Walking Dead property to its full extent. This could have been easily a sophisticated multiplayer game with a brilliant story to back it but connectivity issues, glitches, almost nonexistent VoIP, barebones base management and missions as well as characters that don’t develop really prevents it from being a game I’d fully recommend.

However, with Overkill’s track record and how they have managed to turn around games like Payday through regular content updates, it would be interesting to see if they’d be able to do the same here, as the end game Payday (both the first and second) and the early one are quite different.  Overkill’s The Walking Dead is also set to release for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One February, 2019, which hopefully by then, many of the issues that currently plague this PC release, will be fixed for console.



Author

Haris Iqbal
Haris Iqbal

I am a guy who loves anything with a powerful storyline, whether it be a game, book or movie, it doesn't matter. Just so long as it hooks me in and keeps my imagination captive till the last word/scene! Also, I am huge Silent Hill fan, so I love all things Silent Hill... and anything horror. Huge horror fanatic!