The Walking Dead Betrayal is a hit in the making | Hands-on preview

by on August 9, 2023

Although my time with Project Winter was fleeting, I remember clearly being literally stabbed in the back by two people I considered friends (you know who you are!). Yet despite being butchered behind some bush in the wild, I was impressed by how Other Ocean Interactive made use of the social deception mechanics while integrating survival and strategy between ‘friends’. The Walking Dead Betrayal features familiar ideas, except this time, they’re set within the world of TWD comics.

I got to spend an hour previewing it with fellow writers and members of the development team, and from the short time I had with The Walking Dead Betrayal, I was left wanting to play a lot more. It’s similar in how you can craft, complete objectives, and ultimately survive, but when the threat is an impending walker herd, the stakes feel so much higher. You need to complete certain objectives in order to escape the attack, such as building a bridge with crafting elements scattered around the map, but the undead aren’t the only thing you need to watch out for.

Within each group, there are two traitors who secretly plot to sabotage your efforts. It’s not always clear from the start, but like Project Winter and other titles like Among Us, you’re instantly suspicious of everyone. Being the naïve type, and playing in my first game, I willfully followed Kate Olguin, the lead designer on the game, around the map. I have to say, she did a fantastic job of keeping her intentions secret, and it was only when she decided to throw a Molotov at me that it became crystal clear what was going on.

These moments can occur at any time, and there are no boundaries to how you work on delaying others from completing tasks. The need to stay in groups is vital to survival, as walkers are everywhere. Sometimes they’re scattered in pairs, while other times there’s a good ten or twenty huddled together. It can be tricky to physically sabotage, so communicating where you think parts might be in an effort to lead survivors into a pocket of the undead is one of a hundred different methods. Success is achieved through creating a false sense of security in your teammate’s minds, and as a traitor, the options are endless.

Being a traitor is the most fun part about The Walking Dead Survival because there are also many gameplay elements you can utilise to blend in with the good and honest among you. Making noise attracts walkers, so setting off bombs will send a bunch of them in your direction. You can poison food or lure a horde towards you by wearing a skin suit akin to the Whisperers from the comics. You just need to make sure nobody nearby sees you, and if they do, you can always try and kill them before everyone finds out.

If you do become suspicious of someone, the ability to vote them out is available, however, you need to be absolutely sure they’re the traitor as more friends means a better chance of escaping. There’re different classes to all survivors that have specific benefits like additional inventory space and the ability to find gear that others can’t, like sniper rifles and explosives. Resources are limited, but you might stumble across a storage unit filled with chests that’ll replenish important supplies. There’s plenty to find, but you’re always looking over your shoulder, adding a healthy layer of anxiety to each game.

Although my time with The Walking Dead Betrayal was short, I got to see a good amount of it to know I’ll be revisiting when it comes out. When the walker herd finally comes, you’re panicking whilst trying to escape, adding a further layer of strategy and survival in the dying moments of a game. Watching friends turn into walkers and attacking you is devastating, and if you become one yourself, you can attack any players that have managed to avoid being bitten. Other Ocean has thought of everything, and it’s replayability is fantastic, given the sheer amount of options as both a survivor and a traitor.

The Walking Dead Betrayal is coming soon to PC early access (via Steam) and will also be having a beta.