The Walking Dead is no stranger to the world of video games. From Telltale’s groundbreaking The Walking Dead: Season One to Activision’s less-than-stellar Survival Instinct, the series’ appeal has spread through genres like a zombie plague through Atlanta. It was only a matter of time until the series took a bite out of the free-to-play mobile genre, but luckily developer Scopely has managed to keep the series’ dark appeal intact for what might be the deepest Walking Dead game yet – The Walking Dead: Road to Survival.
For those who don’t know, The Walking Dead began as a humble comic book series, before bursting onto the scene with a smash hit television show and a series of video game spinoffs. The TV show and the comics diverge in points, but feature many of the same core characters and key plot areas. Those characters make occasional appearances in Road to Survival – including a noteworthy appearance by Lee and Clementine from Telltale’s adventure games – but the core storyline is original, and focuses on placing you in the violent throes of a world slowly disintegrating from infection.
The focus on a mature, violent story separates Road to Survival from the crowd of free-to-play games on mobile. There’s a deep storyline, which players can exert direct control over through multiple choice prompts. You might be asked whether to spare a survivor or let them die, for example, and your choice will color the rest of the story.
At its core, Road to Survival is a role-playing adventure game, so as you progress you’ll find yourself collecting more survivors for your party. Each survivor has unique skills, strengths and weaknesses to take into account when you battle. Fights play out against both human and zombie (called walkers, in the parlance of The Walking Dead) enemies. You make your choices in a turn-based fashion, but the intensely strategic nature of the fights means that there’s never a lack of tension during battle. Each character’s unique power adds a dash of aggression to the combat, keeping you on your toes.
Of course, all of the survivors you’re collecting need space. As you expand your party, you’ll also need to expand your base of operations. You’ll build homes to store your survivors, expand your Town Hall to grow your town, and more. The strategic, low-tempo base building is the perfect counterpoint to the intense combat and heavy decision making in the story.
It’s a great mix, and all things considered I had a fantastic time with Road to Survival. The blend of storytelling and intense combat makes it a surefire hit for fans of The Walking Dead and role-playing games alike.