Last year's, Telltale Games gifted gamers with The Walking Dead, a deeply emotional episodic adventure game that offered a breath of fresh air for the video game industry, capturing "Game of the Year" honors from a host of publications - including us.
Unfortunately, a much different Walking Dead game shambled into stores this week, and the only air surrounding it is the rot of decay.
Critics are eviscerating Activision's The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, an action shooter based on the AMC television series, calling it a collection of the worst traits of licensed games and a title that could represent the first utter failing in the seemingly invincible Walking Dead franchise.
Kotaku's Kirk Hamilton is succinct in his headline, calling it "the worst game I've played this year."
"I can think of no compelling reason why anyone should play this game," he writes. "Ugly, flat, boring, aggravating and often broken, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is the purest form of video game garbage. It's utterly unworthy of your time and money." Read further if you dare.
Polygon is no more forgiving.
"Playing Survival Instinct is like listening to a roomful of barely competent musicians, each of whom is playing a completely different song," says writer Justin McElroy. "And every once in a while one kicks you in the groin. Also, you have a sunburn." He charitably gives it a 3/10.
The game, which focuses on the Merle and Daryl characters from the show, is a mess. Poor graphics. Bland music and level design. No drama. A lack of weapons (most critics say they used their knife for 90 percent of the game). Repetitive missions that often force players to play the same map again and again.
Like life in Robert Kirkman's post-apocalyptic world, it just keeps getting worse.
Survival Instinct, admittedly, never stood much of a chance with gamers. Telltale's 2012 take on the franchise was so iconic that simply reducing it to a shooter didn't sit well with players when it was announced. Terminal Reality, developer of the game, is best known as the company that made Han Solo dance in Star Wars: Kinect. And a leaked (and later revealed to be fake) trailer was abysmal.
Rather than rising to the challenge, the game failed to live up to low expectations.
"It's boring, tedious, and just doesn't make any sense," writes Sophie Prell from The Penny Arcade Report. "Stay away."