Destinies proves video games can be lifeless corpses

Whether you discovered The Walking Dead via Telltale’s celebrated games, the comics, or just from friends, it comes to a point where everyone watches the fantastic TV show. It’s so popular, in fact, that even though the main plotline has come to a close, AMC has multiple spin-offs in the works featuring our favorite characters. You’d think, then, that when deciding to make a video game based on such a lucrative gem, you’d want it to blow the minds of its players in an attempt to convert anyone not familiar with the series into an avid watcher. Instead, any potential sway The Walking Dead: Destinies might have had, has been buried beneath a game as lifeless as the walking corpses it’s based on.

The Walking Dead: Destinies puts you in control of the TV show’s first four seasons, playing out the events as the characters but making decisions that can change the course of events, such as having Shane kill Rick to lead the group, or becoming friends with The Governor. On paper, it sounds great, but in reality, you end up changing little and just see static cutscenes played out with different characters. I’m a big fan of the series, so despite its unattractive appearance and the fact that it’s published by Skull Island: Rise of Kong’s GameMill Entertainment — yes, this year’s Kong game that helped us forget about the awful The Lord of the Rings: Gollum for a brief moment — I was still interested in checking it out.

Now, to be clear, I have had moments of enjoyment with The Walking Dead: Destinies, as when played on its Normal or Hard difficulties, it plays as a reasonably fun stealth game, but it is overshadowed by unimaginative design choices and sheer ugliness. Levels are linear and task you with working through various parts of the TV show, which practically translates to sneaking past zombies, destroying some crates, and reaching the mission’s end to fend off a wave of zombies. Rinse and repeat. Along the way, you’ll find health kits and numerous throwables like bottles and grenades which are used by pressing LB — you can only carry one thing at a time — and a number of different weapon types like machetes, shotguns, revolvers, and the like. Most items are either lying on the floor or can be found in smashable, copy-pasted crates found throughout the levels, which amusingly can be opened with any weapon but the sledgehammer.

While you can use any weapon you like, it’s not quite the same case for characters. In each level, you are locked to the characters that feature in the corresponding scene from the TV show. While each character has a skill tree and abilities you can unlock with Skill Points, the gameplay itself mostly sees you sneaking around and stabbing zombies in the head, so they’re worthless for 90% of the game. You may notice a difference when battling the ultra-thick human enemies, but for the most part, the skill system offers little gameplay variety.

The Walking Dead: Destinies proves video games can be lifeless corpses

However, one of the strangest design choices is found between each level when you’re placed back in the hub area. Depending on the Act you’re on, you’ll find yourself in the campsite, on Hershel’s farm, etc. It might have been cool to hang around these important areas in-game, except for the fact that there isn’t anything to do but walk over to the Mission Table to start your next mission. You’ll be offered expeditions here as well, but all they consist of is telling a member of the group to go and do something while you’re in a mission, which rewards Skill Points if it’s a success. You’ll find a single decision to make each time you visit, which is choosing to side with someone on an argument, and seems to have no real value aside from rewarding you with yet more Skill Points.

The hub areas, or the start of each mission to be more precise, is where you’ll bear witness to the lifeless, static cutscenes, which loosely link the story points to drag you through each level. I’ve felt dragged as well, as the storyline has been cut so that as much of the series can be squeezed into as little a game as possible. When not watching static cutscenes filled with budget versions of the TV show’s characters, you’re playing catch-up by reading snippets of text to help fill in some of the gaps. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll already have a good idea about the events surrounding each level, but for newcomers, it could be a bit of a whirlwind.

The Walking Dead: Destinies proves video games can be lifeless corpses

After writing all of this, I’m sitting here wracking my brain in an attempt to find something positive to say, but to be honest, I just can’t find it in me. The character models are almost insulting to the show’s cast, who played their roles phenomenally, and the limp gameplay only serves as a reason to put off any Walking Dead newcomers from ever watching AMC’s show. My recommendation? Save your $50 and spend it on an Amazon Prime Video subscription so you can check out the real thing.

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