In the past I’ve reviewed Telltale’s episodic games each time a new episode came out, but I don’t think that really makes sense considering most people buy the entire series as opposed to individual episodes. That said, I waited until all of the episodes were released so I could play them all in a row. Now, I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead TV Show so when I heard that Telltale was going to make a game based on it, I was pretty stoked. After playing through it, I can say hands down that this was one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had!
Like the TV Show and Comic Book, the story of The Walking Dead takes place in Georgia over the period of several months and is extremely emotional and not happy by any means. In fact, most of what takes place is incredibly sad with periodic intervals of intense action and survival instinct. You play as Lee Everett, a History Professor at a university who is on his way to jail for murdering the man he found sleeping with his wife. Due to Zombies running all over the place, Lee is able to escape from custody when he runs into a young girl named Clementine. Clementine’s parents were on a trip to Savannah and her babysitter turned into a Zombie, leaving her to fend for herself. While in the end, the story is about a struggle for the human race to survive, the real meat is in Lee’s interaction with Clementine and how he’s forced to become a father-like figure to her and they each utilize their strengths to stay alive.
The Walking Dead is largely a story-based game. Its five episodes took me about 12 hours to complete, or roughly 2 to 3 hours each. Your choices throughout each episode affect how the remainder of the game is going to play out for you in pretty significant ways. Sometimes you’ll be forced to decide to save one person and let another die; and whom you choose to save will be the one that continues on with you. This alone gives the game a bit of replayability, but to me, that’s not what was important. The significant choices that Lee makes along the way made me feel like I was a part of the game. What would I do in this situation? How would I deal with these people? Do I tell the truth or lie to the group? Do I put Clementine in danger to keep her close to me, or let her stay behind and potentially be eaten by the Zombies? Some choices I made I wasn’t happy with but had to live with it. People die and I’m not always sure they had to.
The game plays out more like an interactive TV show than a video game. The mechanics are largely story and cut-scene based in that you probably only interact about 50% of the time. When you’re in control of Lee, the game is a standard Telltale Point and Click Adventure game with basic problem and puzzle solving elements. Quicktime sequences are mixed in during intense action moments and every now and then you’ll get to use guns and melee weapons to beat the crap out of Zombies. Unlike some other Telltale games, you can actually die in The Walking Dead, though the game will reload itself right away from the last auto-save. Timed dialog sequences round out the game-play elements that also have a significant effect on how the others will continue to act around you.
Lee and Clementine will run into a large cast of characters in their adventure to stay alive including some from the TV Show including Glenn and Hershal, though they are only minor characters with a small impact on the story. Your humanity will be really tested each time Lee meets new characters and has to determine if they are trustworthy or not – and believe me, not everyone is what they seem. When the zombie apocalypse has begun and everything in the world we’ve taken for granted is gone, people’s true nature comes out and it’s ugly! That’s what this game is about. The final episode in particular is just loaded with really fucked up shit and has one of the most emotional endings I’ve played in any game.
At the beginning of each episode I noticed some performance drops, or stutters as the game changed scenes, but that resolved itself after a few minutes of play each time. The presentation overall I really enjoyed. The art style makes it feel like you’re watching a live-action comic book or something. The voice actors really give the characters life and overall, I really enjoyed most of them. There is also some funny dialog thrown in every now and then to keep things real. Some portions of the game don’t have any background music or ambient sounds, which kept things intense and scary. I’ve not noticed an effect like that since Dark Souls.
I very well could have played right through The Walking Dead’s five episodes in a single sitting – it was that good. I forced myself to walk away and play one episode per day to let what happened each time set in. Overall, I absolutely loved this title and I can’t wait for Telltale to release another season of it. While the game-play elements should be familiar to adventure gamers, that’s not what made the game special. The story was fantastic and drew me in from the very beginning and didn’t let me go. This powerful and emotional story could bring tears to the eyes of even the manliest of gamers. If you haven’t played The Walking Dead yet, you really need to.
The Walking Dead Review (Game) – ZGR
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Release Date: November 21, 2012
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Intel Core i7 920 @ 2.66ghz
6Gb DDR3 1600mhz
ATI 6970 2gb
2 7200rpm 500gb Hard Drives in Raid 0 – Gameplay
1 7200rpm 1Tb Hard Drive – Fraps
1920×1080 – Maxed Graphics – Vsync On – 60fps
**This title was provided to me free of charge from the publisher to review for you.