The Walking Dead: Destinies

The Walking Dead: Destinies

Destined for the trash heap

Destined for the trash heap

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Review game The Walking Dead: Destinies, Destined for the trash heap

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Zombies are one of the least fascinating monster enemy types out there—a slow, lumbering, decaying husk that would be better off buried than attracting our attention—but they can also be entertaining to take down. Based on the otherwise excellent early seasons of the TV series, The Walking Dead: Destinies, if nothing else, succeeds in capturing every single one of their worst traits. Destinies is a boring mess that should have stayed buried in the past, where it appears to have exhumed its broken mechanics.

It looks like a rotting husk of a game from the Xbox 360 era, and despite its ugly attempts to stand tall, it is not worth your attention or money. It gets some credit for trying to experiment with storylines that are different from the TV show, but other than that, not much is done to lift it above the dreary graphics, terrible character models, and ridiculous feeling that this is just a rough prototype of a game.

Since the characters don’t do a good job of mimicking the visual likenesses of their real performers, longtime viewers of the TV show are obviously the intended audience here. Aside from attempting to connect with the audience through recognition, Destinies assumes you are familiar with the entire song as you are abruptly thrust into Rick Grimes’ shoes following his lonesome awakening in the hospital.

This is where it all breaks down, at the start of what would turn into eight or nine agonizing hours.

Naturally, the hospital is overrun with zombies, and Rick has to escape using some standard third-person post-apocalyptic horror game mechanics like pushing, sneaking, and healing—all of which are made worse. Of course, zombies are designed to be mindless, but these are some of the most stupid foes you will find in any video game. Not only are there only three or so zombie models, but they also bump into each other, get caught in walls, and glitch through the ceiling. They are as dangerous as a wet sock on a carpet—just unattractive and annoying but otherwise unremarkable.

You will come across some of the most inept opponents in any video game when playing these ones.

With its repulsive character models, dreadful lighting, and cozy settings that are repeatedly reused, Destinies is as ugly as sin. Recently, I’ve been using my Series X to play a lot of games from my Xbox 360 backlog, and I can say that this current-gen game looks worse than GTA IV, which is almost 20 years old.

I was reminded of the poor quality of the webcams during the initial COVID-19 Zoom calls by the texture resolution. On the PS5, the frame rate appeared steady at 60 frames per second when it wasn’t crashing or refusing to show its supposed cutscenes. A few game-breaking bugs also occurred to me, one of which necessitated a complete restart. In addition, my character declined to engage the enemy in order to start a cutscene during a boss battle. Not to mention that, until I restarted, the music and sound would suddenly stop.

Speaking of, the cutscenes themselves follow the pattern of cheap-looking placeholders that we’ve seen in titles like Rise of Kong and Redfall (both of which were produced by GameMill, the publisher of Destinies). You get to see the awful designs in all their glory as the voice actors perform lines while the characters are exhibited in still poses. They appear to be what I would draw if you asked me to draw them from memory, even though it’s obvious that they are meant to resemble their TV counterparts in some vague way.

It’s odd, but the voice acting isn’t horrible—the actors just didn’t have much material to work with. When eliminating adversaries or fighting them off, for instance, they all have a catchphrase like “My blood’s boiling!” “Leave me!” and similar phrases are repeated nonstop. Hearing odd one-liners from both a 70-year-old farmer and an ex-cop in the context of a dangerous world of unending terror was startling.

Nobody seems to know or care who shot Carl, and it is never explained.

Even the storyline of the show is poorly retold in Destinies. For instance, nobody seems to know or care when Rick’s son Carl is shot early on; it is never made clear who fired the shot. Not at all. As a matter of fact, Destinies never even features the show’s villain, Otis. Rather, the boy is simply taken by the survivors, who then proceed to the Greene Farm story arc, which is notorious for slowing down the show’s pacing.

The ability to manipulate the titular dynamic—the characters’ fates—is the only redeeming feature of Destinies. There are numerous times when you have to make a choice that could result in a survivor’s death or abandonment. Making a choice that deviates from the established plot is, of course, enjoyable if you are familiar with the show. Above all, you can essentially recast the main character by selecting Rick’s and Shane’s victorious fight after some time spent together on the farm, allowing Shane to assume the role of husband and father to Rick’s family. That is a significant and quite dramatic change!

Given the effort put into presenting Shane as we’ve never seen him, it’s obvious the developers had some affection for the program. He develops relationships with people he has never met, grows out his hair and beard, and so forth. Changing the person who becomes the ultimate boss’s right-hand man as a result of a decision you make in the first few hours is another excellent example of a significant decision. But regrettably, this is only intriguing in theory because it still performs horribly in practice, and most choices inevitably have minimal impact on the plot itself.

It’s obvious the developers were somewhat fond of the program.

During their epic road trip, the survivors stay in various camp locations, including the aforementioned farm and a prison. These turn into hub locations where you can initiate the following main and side missions, settle a pointless conflict between two characters, and engage in “talk” dialogue with other survivors. And when I say talk, I mean that every time you return to the hub area, everyone will say the same arbitrary, generic thing without really thinking about what’s going on around them. For instance, Lori, Rick’s wife, would tell the man who blew her husband’s mind how much she loves to make pancakes for the family every Sunday.

You typically take on the role of a different survivor for each major mission. This often doesn’t make sense because you’re either playing as the worst person possible for the job at hand or you’re usually alone. For instance, you play as Lori to retrieve items from a nearby department store after she gives birth in prison a few hours into Destinies. Let’s send the new mother, but there were plenty of other survivors who could have left after more than just enduring a zombie apocalypse. There’s no explanation provided. Another time, a 70-year-old farmer is left on his own to search the prison’s basement for an assault rifle and ammunition. It’s never explained why the elderly farmer could not have gone elsewhere or at least accompanied someone who actually handles weapons, such as a younger, more nimble police officer.

Combat in Destinies is among the worst you will encounter, even with all the upgrades, and it seems like it could have been lifted from shovelware from earlier console generations. Guns and other melee weapons have no kickback or feel to them. The shooting feels unresponsive and floaty, and the auto-lock feature is awful—it targets enemies far away from you. Whether they are a new mother or a fit hunter, every character has the same set of moves. When a character has enough “adrenaline” in them, they can use a kind of super move that instantly kills enemies and restores health, but it also seems useless when fighting slow zombies that only take two hits to kill.

Eventually, you will come across more formidable human adversaries; however, their agility and armor simply make them more irksome and require more time to dispatch. Strangely, they are also mentioned absolutely and are introduced out of the blue. Who are they when they first show up in Shane’s lone flashback, which is of him attempting to save Rick from the hospital? What are their desires? Why are they going after Shane? I apologize, but if you haven’t watched the TV show, you will never know. Shane never responds to it personally.


The Walking Dead: Destinies is a dull, ugly mess of a game that should be avoided at all costs. It does not do anything interesting with the plot or characters from the popular TV show on which it is based. While the idea of making decisions differently from what happened in the show’s early seasons and watching them play out lingers on the edge, Destinies’ terrible graphics, weightless combat, monotonous mission design, and an abundance of bugs equal to zombies make it the gaming equivalent of a biological hazard.


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