Review: The Walking Dead: Episodes 1-2
Telltale Games has been known as a quality developer of a genre that is otherwise under appreciated and not often explored. With a few of the Telltale Games -- namely Back To the Future and Jurassic Park -- lacking majorly in some areas, which includes limited puzzle elements, exploration, and a very choppy in-game graphics engine, I'll admit, I was pretty sceptical when I heard they were making a five episode series of The Walking Dead.
- Worth The Time?Most definitely yes!
- Things LovedExcellent dialogue and voice acting, and a great feel for the source material. Interesting conversation and morality system combined with good story telling.
- Things HatedThe control scheme and camera angles sometimes gets in your way, the game suffers from graphical stutters now and then. Conversation bugs between certain characters (but not always). Only two hours worth of gameplay.
- RecommendationAnyone who loves The Walking Dead comic book and TV series, or if you are currently riding the zombie craze wave.
- Name: The Walking Dead
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Role-Playing, Survival Horror
- Players: Single Player
- Multiplayer: No
- Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Mac OS X, iOS.
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Publisher: N/A
- Price: 400 Microsoft Points
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
However, I can tell you that the Telltale style and game mechanics offered matches The Walking Dead perfectly. With this, I am happy to report that Telltale has successfully created a horror filled adventure experience using the extremely zombie rich post apocalyptic world of Robert Kirkman’s comics.
Just like in Kirkman’s comics, Telltales’ The Walking Dead uses the characters to progress the plot, so don’t expect too much zombie killing action but rather a plot driven story broken up with a few short action scenes, showing how people react in the face of adversity and death. Right from the start of the game, it is pretty evident that the character dialogue and actions carry a certain amount of urgency, which in turn influences future encounters with the characters you meet during the game.
Unlike games which promise you that the choices you make matters in the end, the choices you make in The Walking Dead changes the way the characters interact with you, as they remember the answers you gave them and the choices you made while with them. It makes for one of the most engaging stories I have experienced in a while, and all of this makes you care about the characters in the game. Never in my gaming life, up and till The Walking Dead have I appreciated children in games. Because generally speaking they are obnoxious and tend to have big target signs painted on their backs, especially when it comes to their interactions in the survival horror genre.
But Clementine is the exception to that rule, she is the little eight year old girl you come across during the second chapter of the game. She not only makes a dramatic appearance but she acts sensibly, not to mention bravely, and goes on to save your life. She is also pretty witty, and most important of all, she makes a great companion during the first half of the game. Suffice to say, the way the narrative is handled in The Walking Dead is spot on. During the course of the game you will make tough decisions as to whom you will be giving food, ally yourself with, trust, or even which particular character you will let live or die during the course of the game.
The subsequent choices will, according to Telltale Games, carry over to the next episode in the Walking Dead series, so you need to think really long and hard about the choices you make. But even then you aren’t afforded that luxury as you are limited by a certain amount of time to make a response. I got the distinct feeling while playing the game, that Telltale did their background research on the universe perfectly and put a lot of effort into the story. Because just like the TV series, the game just keeps on throwing you in the middle of these interesting moral choices and tense situations. For example, at one point during the game before you start hooking up with people and forming a group to survive the zombie attacks you come across two people, who are both getting attacked by zombies.
You can make a choice during that scene on who to save and who to leave behind to be eaten by the zombies. The problem is that the people who you choose to leave behind or save have family/friends in the group you are about to meet. These people will then respond differently depending on your choice made during that scene, which is very reminiscent of Heavy Rain for PS3 but with less pretentiousness. One thing that makes The Walking Dead stand out for me, apart from the fact that it is an adventure game in a ocean surrounded by FPS and RPG games, is its constantly updating tip and hints system.
During the course of the game the system informs you via pop-up messages whenever or not you do something actively important in the story. It even goes as far as telling you how people are reacting to your decisions and choices you made, which reminds you of the importance of your choice you made during that scene and setting you up for the next. Because of this awesome little system created by Telltale Games, you don’t feel like you are in a blind free fall during social interactions with other characters in the game. And this does not only let you play the game more intelligently but also makes your second and third play-throughs much more fun as you know exactly where the story branches off, so you can make different choices which will affect the outcome of that scenario differently.
Also don’t expect a point and click adventure in the traditional sense, the focus of The Walking Dead is not on building an inventory and solving puzzles as you progress through the game, unlike previous Telltale titles. Rather it is replaced by an intense focus on story and the human drama instead. It is more of a cinematic gameplay experience than your traditional point and click puzzle game, a sort of interactive movie, if you will.
Graphically The Walking Dead is not really as impressive when compared to other games being released in the market today, and the art style and direction will most definitely keep people away from the game. But then again the colours, palates and style being used in the game almost exactly mirrors that of the comic book franchise which ends up giving it that authentic Walking Dead feeling, which I think Telltale Games was aiming for, from the start. This isn’t really a complaint from my side but other people who play it might feel differently because in this day and age, games are measured in how photo-realistic it can be. I on the other hand prefer my games to be rich in story and gameplay first, before I start worrying about anything else. In short, not everyone will like or enjoy the art style of The Walking Dead.
Another important aspect not to be over looked in the game is the brilliant voice acting, which Telltale Games have gotten down brilliantly in each and every one of their games, and The Walking Dead is no exception. As a fan of the comics and the TV series, the game absolutely nails the tone and setting, just showing you how much effort Telltale Games have put into this, and showing us it is not a shameless cash in on the zombie craziness that everyone find themselves in.
One thing to take note of is the fact that this series is definitely not for the squeamish, where if you have a low tolerance for chopping of limbs with axes and smashing zombie heads in with blunt objects then I suggest you stay far away from this game. And just to clear it up, the level of violence is something you don’t see in everyday games, and falls into the same level that you see in the series and in the comic books. It is visceral gory and sometimes downright disgusting, so you have been warned.
If Telltale Games can keep the direction with every episode, till the final conclusion, then I am definitely hooked. But judging from the first two episodes, The Walking Dead is a great buy, and at only 400 Microsoft Points per episode — it is an absolute steal!