Everyone should know by now that we absolutely love, I mean love us some Walking Dead. Robert Kirkman's comic has transformed from niche title that few knew about to full blown pop culture phenomenon in a matter of a couple of years. It's an impressive feat to say the least, and it looks as if things can only get better from here. Kirkman might be the hardest working writer in the comic book world, and that's paid off in spades. So we have the comic, we have the show, and now it's time for the game.
Telltale Games, the unofficial godfathers of the traditional point and click adventure game, have plenty of experience dealing with some of the most beloved film and television franchises. From Law and Order to Back to The Future, Telltale is the development house that knows its way around solid story telling that remains loyal to these franchises.
Prior to releasing The Walking Dead game, TTG worked on Jurassic Park. The game had a lukewarm reception from both players and critics due to its deviation from the formula that has made TTG so successful. With The Walking Dead, they return to form and it makes for a much better experience. Much like Telltale's previous titles, The Walking Dead is episodic, which is perfect for the type of story being told.
You can purchase the episodes individually at $5.99 or get the "season pass" for all five episodes for $20. The first episode in the series is "A New Day" where we meet our protagonist, Lee Everett, who we find in the back of a police car. How he got there is for you to find out.
It's not as boring as it sounds because the game is directed and paced much the same way a show would be. Telltale creates the reason to keep going forward, no matter how mundane or menial the tasks may seem. Everything you do hinges on something bigger, and every choice has a consequence, for better or for worse.
This isn't your typical zombie game. It has more to do with story and character. This isn't Left 4 Dead or Resident Evil, this is the game Kirkman envisioned. A game that was able to capture what the comic and television show have done so well--character and plot development.
The Devil is In The Details
For those of you who are fans of The Walking Dead, you have a full understanding of how Kirkman operates. The zombies in The Walking Dead are a very small part of the equation. The comic is all about the characters, how they react to each other, to their surroundings, how they handle the pressure, and ultimately how they survive. The game captures this very well, and it's one of the reasons it will keep you engaged from start to finish.
The game is a simple point and click adventure, there isn't anything new about this, but it works well for story telling purposes. In most instances you will just go through a series of quick time events where you simply press the right button at the right time. This is how most of the combat plays out, but you'll spend the rest of your time searching rooms, finding clues, and getting the necessary items needed to survive.
It's not as boring as it sounds because the game is directed and paced much the same way a show would be. Telltale creates the reason to keep going forward, no matter how mundane or menial the tasks may seem. Everything you do hinges on something bigger, and every choice has a consequence, for better or for worse. If that doesn't smell of Kirkman, I can't tell you what does.
For instance, the game puts you in very uncomfortable situations where you will have to be very conscious of the decisions you make and the things you say. There was one situation where two characters lives were at stake, but I could only save one of them. I had to really put some thought into this. Who would be the more beneficial one to save? If I save the child, I gain the trust of his father, who is good mechanically and has a vehicle. However, if I save the farm owners son, we have shelter and food.
When the game put me in a position of choosing to save a child's life or letting him/her die, it was very unsettling. The game doesn't hold any punches, which is a good thing. All of these moral grey areas present themselves. You'll wonder if you did the right thing or made the right decision. Each choice sticks with you throughout the game.
It's all about the "one bad for the greater good" approach. This is where the game really shines, by putting you in situations where your decisions truly effect people's lives. It's the same thing we see in Kirkman's work, and the way Telltale was able to capture that is something they should be proud of. It's also the same reason you'll keep going and you won't stop until the episode is over. The saddest part of the game is when the words "To be continued" pop up on the screen.
It's good to see a zombie game that isn't a zombie game. Yes, games like Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil are good in their own way, but we've seen it all before. With The Walking Dead game, the zombies aren't the focal point, they're the backdrop. The game isn't perfect mind you, and while the game mechanics can be a bit sluggish at times, it's easy to overlook things like that when the game is as enjoyable as it is. The Walking Dead game is an intelligent title that will appeal to fans and newcomers alike. It's every bit as compelling as the comic and show, and it will leave you begging for more.