Overkill Software has been developing their Walking Dead game for more than four years, and it has finally been released on PC.  I, for one, was excited to finally get a zombie game from the makers of Payday that was set in the Walking Dead universe.  That excitement turned into a strong feeling of “meh” during the beta as I quickly discovered that the game wasn’t as fun as I had hoped.  That feeling of “meh” quickly turned to a hard “nope” when it was finally released with many of the  bugs still intact from the beta and for a full AAA release price of $59.99.  What happened?  Let’s dive into our review of Overkill’s The Walking Dead.

Story

Overkill’s The Walking Dead is set in Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead universe, but you won’t be playing as Rick Grimes or Michonne.  Instead,  you will play as one of four new characters in Washington, D.C.; Heather, Grant, Maya or Aiden.  You live in the Anderson Camp and will need to gather supplies to help better your camp, or you will need to defend your camp from attacks from zombies or humans from another camp.  The story progresses like it does in Payday, you have a home base and can select different missions to complete.  Each mission has a loose plot to go with it, like gather supplies from the human camp, but other then that don’t expect anything The Walking Dead level of character progression or development.  Since none of the characters from the show or the comic are in the game, at least currently, there isn’t much of a connection between this game and the later two storylines.  This game could have been just a standard zombie game, and the money for the license could have been spent making the game more fun.

While I do knock Overkill’s The Walking Dead around pretty rough for it’s story, it isn’t any more or less then what we got in Left 4 Dead and I enjoyed that game immensely.  What I think disappoints me the most is that this is a The Walking Dead game, and they only use that story as backdrop for this game.  A game set in the Star Wars universe can still feel like a Star Wars game even without the main cast of characters because the universe is so unique.  In a The Walking Dead game, it just feels like another zombie game, and we have tons of those.  This game needed a better storyline that connected with The Walking Dead much, much more.

Game Play

The game begins by allowing you to select one of four characters to take on a mission: Heather, Grant, Maya and Aiden.  Each character is outfitted with different weapons and takes on a different role.  Aiden, for instance, is the tank of the group and starts the game off with a silenced shotgun and silence pistol.  Aiden is great for soaking up damage or getting into the thick of things, but not so great when you need someone taken down from long range and quietly.  That’s where Grant comes in with his silenced sniper rifle.  Party composition matters in Overkill’s The Walking Dead, so make the right decision.

Each character comes with their own specific skill sets and what they can interact with as well, depending on what tool kit you have with you.  Weapons start off silenced, but as you use the guns to shoot enemies, the silencers will start to degrade then finally fail, leaving you with no other option but to go loud.  The issue with that is, of course, noise brings more zombies.  In the level I started testing the game on, we were infiltrating a human encampment and we were doing fine, but eventually all of our silenced weapons weren’t silenced anymore due to degradation and we started to alert more and more zombies.  Finally, we were completely overrun trying to reach our goal.

As you progress through the levels, you find materials that you can use to upgrade the Anderson camp and to unlock other skills or weapons.  The camp serves as a hub for all the other missions to center around.  The game tells you which one to start with, but you could just jump right into any of the unlocked missions you choose.  Overkill’s The Walking Dead is set up very similar to Overkill’s other game series, Payday.  If you are familiar with the basic structure of a Payday game, then you will feel right at home with Overkill’s The Walking Dead.

Ok, but is it fun to play?  Short answer is yes, Overkill’s The Walking Dead is a fun game to play and you should check it out when it comes out.  However, let me explain why I would also say no.  There is no offline or solo play in Overkill’s The Walking Dead, at least officially.  You can start a mission solo, but you will be doing a job that was meant for 4 people.  This means you need 3 other people to play this game constantly, and if you don’t have 3 mates you trust, then you are putting your life in the hands of perfect strangers.  I am not a fan of online only games, I do love to have a solo option or at least the option to play with bots instead of real people.  If 3 of my friends bought this game and would play with me, then I would at least have someone I can rely on.  In some of the games I played during the preview, we would just have one person run ahead, aggro a ton of zombies and then disconnect.

The artificial intelligence in the game sucks, plain and simple.  We had humans just randomly shooting from across the map, and that was increasing the horde activity until we were finally overrun with no chance at all at winning.  Most missions also just had stupid things that you needed to complete before moving onto the next level, like collecting four gas cans to fill up the tank of a forklift to move it a foot and a half.  The horde mode missions are mind numbingly dull.  These are the worst, honestly, just shoot zombie, rebuild barrier, then repeat as needed.

Aesthetics

This is obviously where all the money for the game went, into making it look and sound good.  Overkill’s The Walking Dead is a good looking game.  The art direction and graphics look nice, and the game ran perfectly on my PC without any graphical issues or lag.  The characters are fully voiced in game, and the voice overs are also top notch.  The actors took the job seriously, and it shows.  It’s too bad that this just wasn’t enough to save the game from mediocrity.

Final Thoughts

Overkill’s The Walking Dead is a game that suffered from developmental hell and was plague by mismanagement and misdirection.  What we got in the final product is not worth the $59.99 price tag, not by a long shot.  Boring missions, bad a.i., no The Walking Dead characters, and a storyline that does not connect to either the comic nor the tv show just isn’t worth my time nor my money.  There is a lot that is good here though, and that’s what really hurts.  The voice acting and art are top notch, the different skills and loadouts for the characters are interesting, and the reliance on cooperative game play can be fun with the right group.  While I was looking forward to Overkill’s The Walking Deadthe final product is pretty much D.O.A.  Overkill’s The Walking Dead is available now for PC.

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Judgeman