A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Walking Dead: Road to Survival is a strategy game based on the graphic novel series by writer Robert Kirkman. Like the comics, it's dark and violent and features humans and zombies being dismembered, shot, and stabbed. The art style mimics that of the comics, both in-game and during graphic, bloody cut scenes. (Images in the latter shouldn't be seen at all by younger children.) Characters use bad language ("s--t," "f--k"), and many are brutal and merciless. Players are presented with significant moral choices but are often rewarded for being ruthless. The app features unmoderated in-game chat.
What's it about?
THE WALKING DEAD: ROAD TO SURVIVAL features characters from Robert Kirkman's graphic novel series in a brand-new story by Walking Dead writer Jay Bonansinga. Characters have the same names as those on the AMC show, but they look different in this adventure. In it, Rick Grimes and company head to confront the governor of Woodbury in hopes of creating a safe haven for survivors. Players help in the effort by building a town, collecting resources, and crafting useful items. When not doing these things, they take on zombies and other human survivors in turn-based combat in familiar Walking Dead locations. Successful missions mean more food and other supplies, which players can then use to expand and upgrade their towns.
Is it any good?
This strategy-adventure game faithfully recreates the setting of the graphic novel and rewards violent, bloodthirsty gameplay. At its heart, the Walking Dead is about survival -- either by cooperation or selfishness. In a world where civilization has disintegrated and it's every man or woman for him- or herself, what kind of person would you be? The aptly named Road to Survival effectively asks this question by recreating the horror of the graphic novels and by making players face their gut-wrenching moral dilemmas. To create a secure sanctuary, players need three things: food, weapons, and experienced fighters. All of these things come from outside the town's barbed-wire walls, and getting them involves fighting off waves of zombies and/or hostile humans. Collectible characters specialize in different things: guns, melee combat, and healing. Those you like, you keep and organize into five-person teams. Those you don't can be turned into currency.
As with most free-to-play games, advancing is faster and easier if you spend some money, but The Walking Dead: Road to Survival gives you more free gameplay than some. Granted, the in-game chat window is a pointless (and obscenity-filled) distraction, and it would be nice if collecting resources wasn't such an outright pain in the rump. (Scopely must recognize the latter; hence their inclusion of the auto-play button.) On the upside, the various game modes give you plenty of ways to test your apocalyptic mettle: Story Mode, Factions (join forces with other players in World at War events), Raids, (raid other players' bases for reputation and reward), Road Map events, and Survival Road tournaments. All this makes the app well worth downloading if you're over 17, and its hair-raising, strategic combat and complex moral dilemmas make it more than just another zombie-killing gore-fest.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in art. Is it possible for a violent image to be beautiful? If so, what are the moral implications of such imagery?
Discuss games and moral choice. What's the advantage of playing as a good character? What about a bad one?
Think about how different media affects a story's message. How is playing The Walking Dead: Road to Survival different from reading the graphic novels or watching the TV show?
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